Harder, better, faster, stronger: Design Sprints at Justlease

Helping Justlease add more value to its consumers

In 2011 Justlease was one of the first start-ups to offer the service of car leasing to private consumers. It realized consumers were getting used to the idea of the sharing economy, and car ownership was becoming more and more expensive.

Now, six years later, Justlease is a mature company and the private lease market has grown rapidly. However, the market growth has also attracted aggressive new competitors. This has driven down prices, impacting the company’s margins. Through explorative research and four design sprints we helped Justlease to revamp its revenue streams by creating value both for the company and its customers.

The project kicked off with explorative customer research to better understand their motivations and barriers. Even for a highly customer-oriented company such as Justlease these in-depth interview sessions always offer surprising new insights. The results were used as direct input for various creative idea generation sessions around the company’s challenge. Together with internal stakeholders the most promising ideas were selected.

The Sprint:

How do you know if an idea is as promising as everyone in the room thinks? This is where design sprints showed their real potential. Design Sprints are an innovative and quick way to develop ideas and validate them with your customers. Current customer validation is often done quantitatively (A/B-testing, customer satisfaction surveys), and happens when an idea is already in the phase of (software) development or even already on the market. Managers and developers generally don’t like to change or kill a project when a they’ve invested in it. They are less sensitive to evidence along the run that the expected benefit can never make up for the total cost. In behavioral science this is described with the term “sunk cost fallacy”.

Validation through design sprints allowed us to quickly test our propositions with real customers and use our first learnings to iterate on them. The relatively low investment of money and effort in each idea keeps the team open to change. It also lets you test risky assumptions without actually taking the risk.

Our Sprint:

So what did our design sprint weeks look like? First, we agreed with the client on which topics to investigate in the following four sprint weeks. We could choose from the various opportunities that were defined earlier in the project. We also specified the phases, the team roles and a rough estimate on the deliverables.

  • On Monday we started benchmarking with competitors, but also other industries that face similar challenges, collecting best practices and possible pitfalls.
  • On Tuesday we combined all benchmarking insights into a comprehensible wireframe. It is amazing to see how much you can learn from other services. Why reinvent the wheel when other companies might have already solved your problem?
  • On Wednesday we used all day to design a look-and-feel-as-real clickable mockup. This requires some good design skills as well as proper prioritizing, in order to get the required results within the given time.
  • On Thursday we invited 5 customers over into the test area. For one hour we gave them each specific tasks while using our mockup. Together with stakeholders and decision makers from the company we observed the customers’ actions and collected their raw feedback. Observing customers using our mockups was painful at some times, but delightful at other times. The main learning was that we felt much more open for suggestions of improvement because we weren’t so attached to our idea yet.
  • On Friday we iterated on our ideas using the collected insights. Referring back to what we had discovered the day before, gave us more confidence to make important design decisions.

The next Monday we would organize a meeting with all stakeholders that needed to implement the recommendations. People attending included the product owner for the website, head developer, product marketeer and so on. Together with them we created a ease-and-effect matrix with the various design recommendations based on the previous sprint week. The fact that different people were involved in various stages of the sprint week made it easier to define priorities as they themselves had a good feeling of what worked well and what didn’t.

The discovery

It’s hard to get private lease car drivers interested into increasing their monthly spendings. That said, the sprint proved that it is possible to get customers interested in spending more, when nudged in the right way. Based on the testing, it was clear that the new proposition could work. Going into the Sprint, Justlease was working in a space of entrepreneurial spirit, A/B-testing and customer service. Coming out of the Sprint, they were working with proof and confidence that their idea of increased value through a redesigned service proposition was successful.

There were some very clear learnings that occurred. Customers make a clear calculation for every option or package they choose. But when convinced of the quality of an offer, they are often willing and able to up their budget. The team also learned how important the timing is of your offering, e.g. offer a cure after customers have felt a certain pain. In a broader sense though, the Sprint had an immediate impact on how the Justlease team thought about their own work process. They witnessed how much you can accomplish in a short time.

Four prototypes from four subsequent Sprint weeks. Images are obscured for confidentiality reasons.

The outcome

The chain of Design Sprints worked as booster for the whole company, incorporating both the process and the learnings from each Sprint session into the next. The team had an Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by the end of each sprint.

Justlease is currently developing various propositions, campaigns and website designs. The first MVP was even incorporated into the company’s new marketing campaign before the project had even ended. Perhaps more importantly, the Sprint methodology has become pervasive throughout the company, showing the power and benefit of prototyping and user testing in an early stage.