Product Design. User Research. Shuttl.
March 2019- July2021.
Redesigned Shuttl's operational tool to help users monitor daily bus operations more efficiently, track reak time on-trip issues and scale with the company's hyper-growth.
Shuttl is a mobile app-based bus pooling service based out of India. Shuttl commits to providing guaranteed seating for every passenger, delivered as part of a seamless travel experience. It's key offering to customers is a scheduled service for work trips with a fixed seat in an air-conditioned bus at a reasonable price.
The app was launched in 2015 and the service panel was designed. As the business grew and requests came in from various channels, the tool became an ineffective technical debt making users unable to work to its full potential. Fundamental usability was a challenge. The initial problem identified can largely be themed under "Out of line Communication", "Information Scatter" and "Unidirectional Information"
March 2019-July 2019
I lead the product design and research from end to end. The UI was designed by the UI designer after I left Shuttl
Team- 1 PM
Stakeholders: Head of Products Head of Design, Manager of Team Leads
Shuttl integrated live bus tracking in almost all of their buses using a GPS device. All the tracking tracking data was received by the Service Panel and communicated to consumers via this tool. The tool for the internal users was meant to ensure that its daily bus operations for consumers and B2C run successfully as scheduled and planned with the convenience that is promised to consumers. This tool amplifies the operator's ability to improve serviceability and on-time arrivals. Internal users of this panel Dashboard Managers (DMs), who make sure that every bus that is assigned a trip is serviceable and on time and has a replacement if needed. They manage delays, arrivals, resolve trip disputes directly with the drivers and vendors. The tool they handle is the bridge between real-time on-ground activities and in-app end-consumer communication.
Our objective was to design a new panel that helps internal users to track daily operations efficiently and keep up with the growing business. Which affected in-app communication with the passengers and kept them informed about the live position of the bus, thus helping end users in planning their commute to the bus stand. It also prevented the unwanted stress of missing or waiting for the bus in case of delays.
The initial problem identified can largely be themed under Information and Usability issues:
Unidirectional Information resulted in unreliable bus tracking information and communication in the end-user app. The operations team relied on manual calling to get real-time updates on the ground.
Data retrieval was hard due to information scatter. Four different apps were used by the operations team and customer care to track the same information
Fundamental usability was a challenge.
Without a dedicated researcher available, I took on the role of the researcher and conducted a 2-week in-depth research and insight gathering session using the “Day in the life” method to understand what it is to be a DM and how does the tool helps them to succeed. I also conducted a moderated interview session with each users. There were 8 participants from two shifts. For analysis, I used a spectrum map to understand painpoints related to the interface and working behaviour The research study unveils Insights, problems, needs, expectations and learning in-depth.
Behaviours & Patterns
Behavior and processes that the users were accustomed to that showed significant drawbacks and ineffectiveness of the operation tool. These behaviors were exhibited by the users because the tool didn't have the support
The Service Panel is not the (only) source of truth.
DMs are more reactive than proactive in their processces
Users were unable to retrieve real-time information via the service panel, driver details were in some other tool, external documentations have past data that are recorded in the service panel at the end of the day making the process slower and inefficient. The information classification was neither analytical nor historical in nature.
Communication between the system and customer service is an added responsibility. This takes up so much time and effort from the DMs that they are forced to be the communication bridge within the field and the customer care. This leaves them with less time to look for future trips and handle trips are currently affected.
DMs didn't feel a part of the eco-system and were sensitive about a bus/driver than the end customers
Since the Service panel only talked about the operation and what it impacts on the drivers and buses DMs were more inclined towards solving a problem operationally, without understanding that their actions impact a group of customers at the same time.
During the research, I understood that the role of the internal users was far more important than they realized. Their overall goals could be classified in the four phases and the operational tool should help internal user to achieve these goals
Prioritize and categorize problems on the ground and help users to achieve an end status of the problem
Help users and get contextual information regarding the problem
Direct users to the take most relevant action to make a quicker decision
Keep a track of information and analyze patterns to predict future cases.
To enable users to resolve real-time on-ground issues before a scheduled bus trip
Increase the no of trips handled per day by an internal user
Reduce customer calls considerably
Challenge: With the ongoing expansion to different cities the timeline was short and hard. There was no researcher and UI designer thus the design support relied on me. The tool was designed keeping UX and usability in mind. UI was to be taken later on.
REFRAMING THE PROBLEM
Poorly formed Information chunks cause problems in how it stored, consumed, viewed, communicated, and actioned. Users tend to work on issues as when they arrive rather than being proactive. Further, these problems indirectly quench the efficiency of Customer Service
// How might we make the Service Panel an effective, proactive ONE FOR ALL information system? //
// How might we evoke customer-centricity in DMs and make them feel they are a part of the larger eco-system? //
The strategy to solve problems was to identify the most atomic level of information that affected the users in decision making. In this case, we determined that Alert type was the information that affected every stage of actions that the user would take from Investigate to Predict.
Clearly show what is going on and where to focus
Direct on what actions to take and when to take
Access to information whenever required in one tool
One for all, All for one
One panel to analyze, communicate, collaborate and document daily operations
The tool integrates information from the driver's app, alerts the DM in case of alerts, and effectively communicates bus statuses to the consumer app. Specified user roles determines different views for bus statuses for a particular trip
Alerts formed the most atomic important information archy-type that the users cared about. On-trip alert notification in the system was a set of chronological updates to a driver, bus, and trip status.
In collaboration with the PM and the team lead, we created a list of alert types and their priority during the driver journey.
We tied this most atomic informational element to the interface journey to create a simplified three-page tool-
Alert Information, Inventory, and Dashboard.
It is easier for internal operational users to loose track of end users
It is important that the internal tools always keep the vision of the company in an actional manner so that their user are always motivated to do their best
Data tells us what, behaviours tell us why
A lot of times operational processes develop ad-hoc manual processes and they continue to stick to them if the tools do not provide valuable solutions. It is always better to observe users in their work environment to get a full picture of the user behavior