Interviewee smiling into the camera

Case Study with Deutsche Telekom: how choosing a customer-centred strategy can help drive innovation

August 31, 2021

Deutsche Telekom has been one of the earliest customers of Smaply. Now they share their experience with embracing journey mapping as a company.

Like many organizations within the telecommunications industry, Deutsche Telekom is operating in a world steeped in competition. In order to thrive within this environment organizations must cultivate a strong focus for customer needs, be open to embracing emerging technologies, and have fluid organizational cultures which are innovative and able to adapt to uncertain challenges.

So how are you able to influence cultural change within a large telecommunications organization to create these conditions? You take a bunch of willing employees, empower them with new tools and mindsets, support them from the top down and then let them loose in your company.

This is exactly what Deutsche Telekom did in an effort to infuse their organizational culture with service design and a more human centred approach. And it worked.

Episode guide

02:05 – First encounter with Service Design.

04:08 – Why did we setup the CX navigator community?

12:49 – When will we achieve the mindset change?

21:11 – How can we overcome the hurdle of uncertainty?

28:40 – Big question: how can we help projects deal with uncertainty?

As you will have seen in the video, Deutsche Telekom wanted to create a cultural shift that moved the organization away from isolated ways of working with service design to a more integrated day-to-day practice. In this case study we explore some of the challenges changing their culture and implementing service design, as well as the major levers that helped support the shift towards becoming more customer focussed in their ways of working.

What worked?

  • Having internal CX navigators who became service design ambassadors within the organization who helped shift the culture by promoting human-centred projects and ways of working
  • Empowering navigators with a 30% time allowance to work and coach on service design projects within the organization
  • Seeing the results. Feedback from the project was overwhelmingly positive and team members were able to see results that were a direct result of talking about the customer perspective
  • Using a "bi-polar” approach which supported service design from the bottom up through the use of navigators, as well as from the top down with board members and upper level managers.

What were the challenges?

  • Developing services based on a deep understanding for the customer journey in the telecommunications industry requires changes at all levels of the organization.
  • Overcoming uncertainty was a barrier for the team. It took some time to adjust to the new ways of working and gain confidence.
  • Sometimes it took time to see tangible results - this was often the result of a drawn out research and discovery phase. The consequences were that over a three month period people lost some momentum.
  • Ambassadors of service design methods had competing demands as they had their normal work projects to participate in. Only being able to dedicate a percentage of their time potential drew out projects longer than expected.

What were the results?

It was obvious to Deutsche Telekom that the experimental approach for integrating service design was successful. Teams that have adopted and used service design approaches were able to see results from taking a more human centred approach to their services.

“Service design is not just a methodology for projects but also kind of a mindset that can really change your daily work.” - Maik Medzich (Service Designer, Telekom)

This resulted in their organization receiving the award for “Systemic and Cultural Change in the Private Sector” from the Service Design Network in 2016.  

“The fact that we have won the first place in the world's most important Design Thinking Award makes me proud. This is a great success for the company and the HR department, “ - Christian P. Illek

Want to know more ?

You can find more about the service design award here:

Deutsche Telekom received Service Design Award

SDN case studies that showcase how Deutsche Telekom applied customer experience management in the telecommunications industry

SDN | Design-driven Transformation: Deutsche Telekom

SDN | Reinventing from Within: Don't talk about cultural change, do it

Telekom’s commitment to innovation

Telekom Design Gallery – Experience innovation and the future

Editor's note: This article has first been published in March 2017 and has since been updated to offer extended value for readers.

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