Team on tour at Explore Export 2015

Reading Time: 5 minutes

On Friday 6 November the Digital First Service Design team packed up post-its, whiteboards, sharpie pens and blue tac from our Paisley offices and set up shop at the UKTI Explore Export event in Edinburgh.


We’ve been busy over the last few months, developing and launching the new Export Health Check.

In September we launched our first version of the tool on the SE website. Based on results of customer testing on Version 1, we made changes to the design and how the content is displayed on both desktop and mobile versions.

So, it was time to give Version 2 a thorough road test and get real-time feedback from exactly the customers that we built the tool for. The Explore Export event gave us the opportunity to get in front of more than 200 of those customers in one hit.

Getting to know and understand our customers is fundamental to my role as Export Product Owner. It’s my job to represent their voice in all the digital export services we develop.

Customers need to be at the centre of everything we do. By bringing the customer to the very centre of our service design, we’ll start building a strong foundation and bond with them.

Improvement through iterations
Improvement through iterations

In the commercial world this would help give our business an edge against our competitors. In Scottish Enterprise, it helps us help our businesses be the best they can be, which is critical if we want to pave the way for Scottish businesses to trade overseas and increase their international sales turnover.

And based on the customer feedback at Explore Export, we’re now thinking about the next development iteration to the Export Health Check, including new features, content and functionality.

What did we learn?

Apart from not wearing heels when you’re standing for 8 hours (note to self!), between us, we spoke to almost 60 customers on the day.  Not surprisingly, given the nature of the event, the majority of the customers we spoke to were already exporting.

We demonstrated the Export Health Check on iPads and our large 55” LCD touch screen TV, which tickled the team no end as we’ve all become super gadget fans lately.  We got lots of great feedback on the Export Health Check, particularly amongst those that were new exporters and really useful constructive and innovative ideas from some of the businesses that we are now considering for future development.

From the feedback, we gathered common themes on the priority needs of businesses, their target markets and what their biggest challenges were. These lists aren’t exhaustive but they highlight the common and most popular responses that came up on the day.

Five things our customers wish we knew about them:

  1. They value “good” service and “fast” service equally.
  2. They see the value of our services and brand better when we provide time over money.
  3. They’re a great resource to help us innovate.
  4. They’re very literal, so want straight talking only, not figurative language, acronyms or over/understating phrases.
  5. They have very little time that they don’t want wasted, so the quicker they can get to the right person, advice or information, the better

What are their main business challenges/priorities?

  • Strategy, focus and time (managing volume of business and rate of growth)
  • Get to the right person (told previously that SE can’t help)
  • Get timeous support (come back sooner with decisions re applications etc)
  • Technical issues (As I start my export journey, how do I insure my debt, understand the pitfalls, legal, technical issues that I may come up against, and how do I manage margins – enablement and cash flow?)
  • Contacts (local logistics, business partners, finding customers, sales contacts etc)
  • Markets, marketing and research (help with product marketing overseas, getting ‘in market’ info, and help with branding and international proposition development)
  • Grants/funding (support to attend trade shows, join trade missions, research markets – consumer and geography)
  • Innovation (how to continue to innovate to remain competitive)

What are the most important/popular geographical markets they’re looking at?


  • North America
  • Europe – Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany
  • Asia
  • Japan
  • Middle East
  • Brazil
  • Malaysia
  • India

Most common business sectors:

  • Oil and gas
  • Construction
  • Engineering and engineering consultancy
  • Luxury goods
  • Creative industries
  • Manufacturing

What’s next for the team?

Persona development

We’re developing new personas to help keep the customer in mind when we’re developing new services.

We’ll scenario test these new personas against the Export Health Check and other services, which will highlight if we’re missing any content to support a particular customer group. This will help us plan the next iteration of the diagnostic, including any changes, new features and refreshed design.

Read about one of our personas

Export Health Check updates

Diagnostic feedback

We’re considering a number of updates to the Export Health Check.

On the diagnostic itself, we plan to improve the wording on some of the questions and include sliding scales to replace ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘unsure’ answers. And we may refine it further to cater separately for service and product exports.

With the action plan that the customer receives, we may further prioritise the actions for customers to meet their priority needs or challenges, including ‘Things To Do Now’ versus ‘Things To Do Next’.

We can also look at different learning styles and let the customer choose how they receive their report, including an option for a comprehensive downloadable PDF with full content to review offline, and link outputs and activities with an online export plan so that the customer can update their plan as they go through the various activities prioritised for them within diagnostic.

Customer panel

We also recruited 36 businesses for our customer panel at the event. Our customer panel is a group of customers who chat to us about a variety of research activities to help us;

  • Understand current industry issues
  • Develop appropriate advertising campaigns
  • Obtain direct feedback on our products and services

Research and testing activities are usually undertaken via online surveys, telephone questionnaires or focus groups. Continuous recruitment for the panel is important to us to ensure that we don’t exhaust the goodwill or patience of our existing panel members.

Want to find out more?

The team had a great day at the event.  Speaking to customers is at the heart of everything we do and we’ll continue to roadtest our developments at similar events over and above our usual channels.

We’ve even replicated the stand and our customer comments in our Paisley office which serves a great prompt and reminder of our customer feedback. So if you want to learn more about what myself and the team learned on the day, feel free to pop into Paisley and speak to us.

Siobhan is Export Product Owner for our Trade Services.

Getting to know and understand our customers is fundamental to her role as Export Product Owner. It’s her job to represent their voice in all the digital export services we develop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.