Building a UX Team at Virgin Atlantic

Paul Boag

The Boagworld Show is back for a season about how you can build a more user centric culture at your organisation. We begin our journey by talking to Martyn Reding about the culture at Virgin Atlantic.

This week’s show is sponsored by Balsamiq and Tickera.

Transcript

Paul Boag: The Boagworld Show is back, for a season about how you can build a more user-centric culture at your organization. We begin our journey by talking to Martyn Reding about a culture at Virgin Atlantic.

Paul Boag: This episode of the Boagworld Show is brought to you by Tickera and Balsamiq

Paul Boag: Hello, welcome to the Boagworld Show, the podcast about all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. My name is Paul Boag, and we’re back. And Marcus is back with me.

Marcus Lillington: Woo, yeah, woo, yeah. I’m feeling a little bit relaxed after my lovely holiday.

Paul Boag: Did you have a lovely one? Where did you go?

Marcus Lillington: I went to the Caribbean, to the Dominican Republic.

Paul Boag: Ahahhh. [crosstalk 00:01:06]

Marcus Lillington: Very, very, nice.

Paul Boag: How long, that’s quite a long flight, isn’t it, to Dominican Republic?

Marcus Lillington: It was about 9 hours on the way out and a bit longer than 8 on the way back. But yeah, it was fine.

Paul Boag: I disapprove. I’m not used, you see, what you need to understand Marcus, is now, I am single handily saving the planet.

Marcus Lillington: I’ve been gathering that from your comments.

Paul Boag: Yes. I haven–

Marcus Lillington: No one cares. No one cares. [crosstalk 00:01:26]

Paul Boag: I have an electric car- [crosstalk 00:01:30] – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So this is the new latest purchase I’ve made. We’ve purchased an electric car, so therefore, I am suddenly incredibly opinionated about ecological issues and like to bring it up at every opportunity to talk about how terrible other people are to the planet in a smug and self satisfying way.

Marcus Lillington: Tell me it’s a Tesla.

Paul Boag: No, I can’t afford a bloody Tesla! Whatcha’ think, I’m made of money, I’m, we are redoing our house? They cost a fortune! No, it’s a Nissan Leaf.

Marcus Lillington: The new one?

Paul Boag: Yeah. Yeah. It’s nice.

Marcus Lillington: Well, they look love-ly.

Paul Boag: I’ve got to say it is absolutely brilliant. It’s like driving a bumper car, because, you only have one pedal, you see. You put your foot to accelerate, and you take it off, it stops. It’s like idiot proof. So, perfect for me.

Marcus Lillington: That does worry me a bit though. That one pedal thing.

Paul Boag: Oh, you could turn it off.

Marcus Lillington: Right, but you kinda have to, you can’t do an emergency stop if you needed to–

Paul Boag: Oh, yeah. Well, you could turn it off entirely, if you wanted to.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: But, also, you could, you regularly still have to put your foot on the break, because, ya know, you get maybe a bit enthusiastic.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: And so, it’s not like you never use the break. It’s just—

Marcus Lillington: I see, I just imagine there was one pedal.

Paul Boag: No.

Marcus Lillington: That would scare me a bit.

Paul Boag: No, No, No. So yeah, anyway, that’s what’s been happening in my world. And we’re almost back.

Marcus Lillington: But, far more importantly I have to comment you on how gorgeous you’re looking in all of your shots now Paul.

Paul Boag: Well, Yes.

Marcus Lillington: Was there any Photoshop in there?

Paul Boag: About. I’m told no.

Marcus Lillington: Right.

Paul Boag: I had to get some photographs done.

Marcus Lillington: You look like a film star.

Paul Boag: I think the lighting was very well done. Let’s put it like that.

Paul Boag: It was horrible getting it done but it, desperately needed to. I’m always getting asked for photos of me for speaking, and that kind of stuff. I finely bit the bullet and thought, I’ll do it, but, an experience I never want to repeat.

Marcus Lillington: [crosstalk 00:03:40] Yeah, weird. I did loads of it obviously when I was younger, I’d hate to have to do it again.

Paul Boag: Ah, just, yeah, anyway. So there’s that. So Let’s tell people about this season of podcast-

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: We have to stay a bit on schedule this season, because most of the episodes are made up of interviews. We’ve got a whole load of interviews coming up over the season, so, essentially what the season is about, is about building a user centric culture in your organization and all the challenges and stuff that goes around doing that. And we’ve got an amazing line-up of guests that are gonna be on the season, and so, what I’ve essentially tried to do is create the biggest cross section of companies I could think of and look at their culture within their organization and how user-centric it is, or how un-user-centric it is. So, it’s a real mix.

Paul Boag: So, today we’ve got Matt Redding –

Marcus Lillington: Martin.

Paul Boag: From Virgin Atlantic, which is, Virgin Atlantic is obviously, known as a very, kind of, customer friendly, and customer centric company. Next week we’ve got somebody from the University of Dundee. Talk about totally different. The week after, somebody from Cisco, and then somebody from IBM, who at are very different places out in their journey, even though they are in a very similar sector. We’ve got people from, somebody from Uber coming on. Then we’ve got somebody from a sex toy manufacturing company.

Marcus Lillington: Whose been on the show before too.

Paul Boag: Who has been on the show- but an amazing, amazingly interesting story to tell about the challenges around customer experience. So, it’s one of my favorite interviews. It’s comin’ up actually. And then, we’ve got people from agencies and insurance companies, and all kinds of stuff. So, it’s a really interesting season, where you get insights into what’s going on in all of these companies. So, I’m really looking forward to it, I think it’s going to be a good one.

Marcus Lillington: Well, I’ve listened to a couple so far, and yes they are both top,

Paul Boag: I know right?

Marcus Lillington: Very interesting.

Paul Boag: Good. So, but we’re gonna do something else this season. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: Alright. How many, I mean we’ve done what, 500 plus episodes? I would have thought by now we must be pushing that kinda number.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah. There abouts, yeah.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and over all that time you’ve basically done nothing. That is not actually true but.

Marcus Lillington: Yes. Go with that.

Paul Boag: Okay, I’ll give you the fact that you come up with the joke at the end of each episode. But, you don’t really provide any value.

Marcus Lillington: Paul, Paul, Paul.

Paul Boag: You’ve been dead weight for these 10 plus years.

Marcus Lillington: Well, I love you too.

Paul Boag: So, dear listener, I’m encouraging Marcus to actually do some work this season.

Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Paul Boag: We’re gonna introduce a new segment at the start of the show called “ A Thought for the day from Marcus Lillington.” And Marcus is gonna share some profundity with us and, I think this is, I’m really excited about this because, Marcus has this huge well of decades worth of experience, and knowledge of working in the digital sector. He’s, you know, so I am utterly convinced that every syllable that comes out of his mouth is going to be life changing for people.

Marcus Lillington: It will be very similar. I expected the thought that [crosstalk 00:07:21] on radio at 4 in the morning, when, the leaders of the various churches and religions, and religions around the world come on and say very wise words about how to live your life, well, and it will be pretty much, maybe even a bit better than that.

Paul Boag: I actually think. I think it’s gonna be better. I think it’s gonna be a lot more relevant to our audience.

Marcus Lillington: That’s my biggest problem, keeping things relevant. But hey.

Paul Boag: So I think–

Marcus Lillington: This weeks is.

Paul Boag: You’ve got one. You’re ready.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: Oh, you’re actually prepared. You know it didn’t even occur to me that you might actually have one ready for the first show.

Marcus Lillington: Okay. I was thinking the other day.

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Marcus Lillington: And quite a few other days actually, that quite a lot of the time we struggle to get any kind of user input into the start of the projects we do. Now, obviously you want as much input from users as you can get, on beginning, throughout, a project. But, basically we do a lot of work for kind of, quite, high powered law firms, and they’re, they all have various different audiences, some of which we can get to, but the most important one, the people that sort of decide to hire these people, they are not interested in the slightest in feeding back to some questions or an interview from me about how a website is. They are not interested. So, what do you do basically. This is the thrust of this post.

Marcus Lillington: What do you do if you can’t get to any users? So I was starting to think about it, and I thought well, one of the most common things to do, even if we can get to some of the users is, well, let’s do a survey. And it seemed, I think, particularly, buy people within organizations as, surveys have seen that this kind of way of validating everything that comes afterwards.

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Marcus Lillington: Survey said, we should be doing this so, we’re gonna do that. But, we’ve, I mean we’ve done loads of surveys over the years, I mean, I don’t even remember Paul when we worked for NSF, we did about 20 surveys.

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative) I do.

Marcus Lillington: In all different languages as well, but, not singling them out, but my general feeling over the years is the surveys aren’t that useful. I think you can get them wrong, you can ask far too many questions, you can ask too many open ended questions, questions that you can’t really do anything with once you get the responses; but even if you do it right, you ask just maybe two questions and you really can do something with it, I still don’t think that they’re that useful.

Paul Boag: Really?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:10:01] What about if there is something like top task analysis?

Marcus Lillington: I think, I’ve done it, and I think that you can certainly input that data. I don’t think you’re getting, necessarily bad data, from something from out of top task analysis. But what you’re getting is — The people that respond to surveys, generally, are people that love you, or hate you.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: And I’ve just, I can really go on my own feelings here, but, I occasionally do respond to surveys and it’s either in that I absolutely love what you’re doing and I want to tell you about it, tell you you’re doing it brilliantly, or, I’m gonna have a write-all moan, otherwise, I just carry on.

Marcus Lillington: So, I guess the point I’m making there, is that I think that though, and I’ve just said that I think the data you get is valid, I think it’s skewed. So, therefore, you may end up being, you may create a skew designed from your skewed data.

Paul Boag: I agree with that. [inaudible 00:11:01] I think to some degree it depends on the questions you ask. So something like, in a top task analysis test, you’re not asking what people think of anything, you’re literally asking them why they were here.

Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Paul Boag: What were they coming to do? What do they want to achieve? And, so that’s less likely to be skewed, but generally speaking I absolutely agree, yeah. [inaudible 00:11:24]

Marcus Lillington: Still likely to get someone, skip it if they’re in the middle of your user, or the majority of your users want to skip that answer to the question.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Anyway. Moving.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Other things you can do. Obviously we can look at analytics, and you can look at analytics without speaking to any user ever.

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Marcus Lillington: So that’s kinda good. You can look at popular and unpopular pages, one’s with high bounce rates, etc. etc. and you can extrapolate kind of, user behavior, patterns from that data. That’s a hard to do and it’s something that now colleague Chris Scott is very good at doing. Basically creating ways of looking at analytic data to enable extrapolations of that data. But again, the problem with analytics is you’re always looking at past stuff-

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Marcus Lillington: So you can’t ask the user what their ideal experience might be. How they feel about something, you can just look at the figures. It’s useful, but it’s a kind of supporting mechanism.

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Marcus Lillington: The other one is sales people. So if you can’t get to speak to actual end users, speak to people, who speak to end users.

Paul Boag: Like this one.

Marcus Lillington: And that can, it’s not necessary, got full blown sales man in a suit. It might be someone at a help desk, live chat, that kind of thing. And their responses I think are really useful and I think it’s really important that you speak to people in those roles. What I find, my problem with that, is they tend not to want to be spoken to. Senior managers are always, senior people. The organizations are always delighted to sit down for an hour and talk to you about this, that, and the other, but sales people tend to think it’s a bit of a waste of their time. But, try, I guess, is my message there.

Marcus Lillington: And finally, is this idea of sort of trusting your gut, or trust your own skill and experience. Start to kind of build a prototype first, that you can test. Obviously if you can’t get anyone to test than that’s just a different thing, but you can test something real, even with the people you’re working with. With you stake holders.

Marcus Lillington: Get in and build something quickly, so that there’s something real that people can get in and around.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: That’s pretty much my thought for the day.

Paul Boag: I like that and I certainly agree very much with that last one about sometimes just building something quick and dirty and then putting it out there and seeing how people responded by far the best way of getting an idea whether it’s working or not, because then that almost solves what you were saying about the analytics, of what it doesn’t show you the future. Well you shove analytics on your prototype, and you get to see whether people are responding to your future possible approach.

Marcus Lillington: [inaudible 00:14:13]

Paul Boag: Okay, well, that’s brilliant. Thank you very much for your– You did very well.

Marcus Lillington: [crosstalk 00:14:19]

Marcus Lillington: One out of ten, how many-

Paul Boag: Ten.

Marcus Lillington: We’re doing–

Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:14:24]

Paul Boag: I’m presuming your going to do this forever now. That’s it. You’ve committed yourself.

Marcus Lillington: I quite like it, but, it’s not easy coming up with things.

Paul Boag: Welcome to my world.

Marcus Lillington: I had that for the past 5 years. I had that all written since–

Paul Boag: Yay. If you want to see what Marcus is written, I’ve just created a short link for you, which is, Boag.world/userinput

Marcus Lillington: [inaudible 00:14:52]

Paul Boag: Okay, let’s do our first interview which is with Martin Redding, as I said at the top of the show.

Marcus Lillington: You actually said Matt, but he won’t mind.

Paul Boag: Oh, did I?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: Oh.

Marcus Lillington: But you can apologize now, cause I noticed.

Paul Boag: You can go in and add that in like, a badly dubbed movie.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah. Martin.

Paul Boag: Yeah. Do it in your voice as well, that would be really funny. Okay. So Martin. That’s terrible. The first guest and I’ve already screwed it up.

Paul Boag: So he works with Virgin Atlantic and I really enjoyed this interview with him, but, I’m gonna make you wait just a little bit longer for that. But before we get that I want a quickly tell you about our first sponsor of the day, which is, Tickera, and–

Marcus Lillington: What. Never heard of em.

Paul Boag: Just because you’ve never heard of em’ doesn’t mean they’re not good Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: No, no, it was an invitation to tell me more.

Paul Boag: Oh, okay, right, so they sell tickets, right, well, they don’t sell tickets, they enable you to sell tickets. If you’ve got a word press site. So maybe you’re doing an event or, conference, anything like that. You’ve got a word press site and you want to be able to sell tickets to the event, whatever the event is, then you should definitely check out Tickera.

Paul Boag: They’ve got 80,000 downloads. So they are well established, well used, plug in for word press. Credibly highly recommended if you read the reviews and stuff that people have written. And it’s got really great work flow, that integrates into your existing content, and it’s really straight forward to use, setup and all the rest of it, as you would expect. Customers can even do things like select specifically what seat their gonna have if you want to offer that functionality.

Paul Boag: When it comes to actually people turning up at the event and you wanting to check them in, this type of system also comes with check in apps, for Iware for Android, and Chrome, so that you can actually check people in when they arrive. So you don’t have to pay the overheads with some of these other services that do all of that for you, you can just run it all on your own site.

Paul Boag: And, you can even check people in without internet coverage, which is very useful as it’s inevitably bad at events. So, they support 100s of payment gateways, 20 plus built in payment gateways, including things like WooCommerce, which is really common word press. But they’ve got loads of other stuff.

Paul Boag: Also, with WooCommerce, as well, they have like this bridge that kind of communicates with the WooCommerce add-ons. But you can use any payment gate you want, basically, they’ve got loads of them.

Paul Boag: So, if you want to find out more about them, give em’ a try. Go along to Boag.world/ticket, Oh sorry, ticketer, which is tickera, there we go. Okay so, into the interview.

Paul Boag: Martyn, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the show. It’s really good to have you with us today.

Martyn Reding: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.

Paul Boag: Yeah, it’s really good, so, this is a part of a new season for us. We’re looking at user experience, and the building user experience culture within organizations. And so, I kind of sat down and I was thinking about different companies that are at different stages in that journey. And, one company that let to mind was Virgin Atlantic because your known for providing a great user experience as an organization, or a customer experience should I say. So, I thought, let’s get somebody from Virgin Atlantic on the show to have a chat about it. But before we jump into that, tell us, tell me a little about your role at Virgin Atlantic. What is it that you do? How long have you been in post, that kind of stuff? Just to give people a bit of background.

Martyn Reding: Sure, okay, so normally I am the head of user experience and optimization. My role is a new role, so I’ve only been in this role, this role has only really existed since November 2017. So it’s new for the organization.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: And, what that means for me at the moment is I’m in the process of building, formally building a user experience team. As you know, user experience happens whether you’re designing it or not. Whether not you’re consciously doing it, it is happening and so, my role was created to kind of bring a focal point to all of that, and to try and find a means by which we could string together all of the different elements to the digital experience.

Martyn Reding: At the moment my role is very much about putting foundations in place. My role is very much about the setting up and the introduction of how the team will work. There’s an awful lot of kind of, what people would describe as design ops at this point in time. So establishing the tool set, establishing the tool kit, establishing what the roles will be and how they will form and grow over time. How we’ll connect into teams. All of those kinds of things.

Martyn Reding: So, at the moment it’s me putting sticks in the ground and measuring things up and standing back and looking at it.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: So, deciding the shape of it. Yeah, there’s a lot to do. There’s a lot of foundational building work to do. And then aside from that, because Virgin Atlantic is not a company that stand still. It’s a company that moves very, very quickly, so, as much as maybe as I would like to sometimes, the company isn’t gonna sit here and stop doing anything until I’ve got all of the pieces in place. There’s a great analogy for my role here is building a plane that’s charging down the runway, so, I’m trying to then work out a way of bringing value into current projects. Projects that are about to launch, while at the same time, building a team.

Paul Boag: Wow, that sounds easy then. No trouble.

Martyn Reding: Right, yeah. I’ve got a lot of Grey hairs as a result.

Paul Boag: I’ll bet you have. On the other hand, as hard as that does sound, like I said at the beginning Virgin Atlantic is kind of known for its great customer service. Typically, airlines are crap, let’s be honest. We all love a good moan about airlines and there’s been very high profile examples of that.

Martyn Reding: Don’t draw me into that.

Paul Boag: I won’t.

Martyn Reding: I’m aware of where peoples section of it sits in the world. And you know what-

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: It’s very, very easy for companies to say, they put customers at the heart, it’s very, very, easy, and you hear that a lot. Right. Customers–

Paul Boag: Yeah you will.

Martyn Reding: Are the center of what we do and it’s very important to us. And, sure that’s fine and that’s really easy to say, but I genuinely for all the companies I’ve worked with and for, I’ve never experienced anything like Virgin Atlantic, in terms of how high up the priority order and how much power and emphasis is given to customers. It’s really huge. And, what I’ve found and what I’ve seen lots of times, in lots of different organizations is that you go in there and you find somewhere in some corner this really diligent, hard working, and often frustrated team of designers and researchers-

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Martyn Reding: And concept strategists, and developers, and product managers possibly, and they’re all trying to, we’ve heard it before right, getting a seat at the able, they’re trying to be heard.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: And they’re trying to be, sort of kick doors down and get into conversations. And, it’s sort of upside down here, and it took me a while to really get my head around it, and all the doors are open, and Virgin Atlantic is sort of begging for more customer insight, and more user centered practices. But, we just don’t have enough people. We don’t have the team in place. So, it’s kind of the other way around here. There’s no. I don’t think there’s any conversation that I could imagine anywhere around this organization where if someone said, this created bad experience, the answer would ever be, we just need to do it anyway.

Paul Boag: Wow.

Martyn Reding: I don’t think that exists here, and I think it’s really rare. Which is what is really ultimately drawn me to this role.

Paul Boag: I’m not surprised. [crosstalk 00:23:59] That’s a dream job you’ve landed.

Martyn Reding: Well, it’s treated me very well so far.

Paul Boag: So, where does that come from, do you think? I mean admittedly I haven’t been in post that long, but, that kind of culture, well, it- where, how did it originate at Virgin Atlantic and is it nurtured, do you seeing ways that it’s reinforced if that makes sense?

Martyn Reding: Well, Yes, Yes. So, where does it come from? It comes right from the start to be honest with you. It’s right through our genes, it’s in our history, it was how we were formed.

Paul Boag: Right.

Martyn Reding: And it’s, you know, you can trace back through kind of Branson’s biographies and documentaries and all that kind of information about where the airline came from. And, at the very, very start, the very first flight that this airline ever took, they poured so much into the experience of their-

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: And just, they’ve just continued to do so.

Martyn Reding: And I think I’ll get in trouble for misquoting this, but there is a quote out there somewhere about how he kind of referred to the fact that he’s not in the airline business, he’s in the entertainment business.

Paul Boag: Ah.

Martyn Reding: And there’s history in there’s all these wonderful stories from the past that are kind of floating around inside the organization about how the cabin crew used to, before they were films and music and inflight entertainment and stuff, they used to come round and hand out packs of cards and they used to play eye spy with the kids, and all those things and that’s just been there right from the very, very start. From the free champagne and the celebrities, all the way through to all of that kind of, all the finite work that happens here every single day.

Paul Boag: Yeah. I mean do you, is it built into like the metrics that the organization is measuring, or, any policies or procedures, or is it kind of more organic than that?

Martyn Reding: No, it’s very considered. It’s very well structured. We have customer experience represented at an executive level. We have a customer experience exec- who sits alongside the IT exec- and the finance exec- You know it’s right up there in our leadership team.

Paul Boag: Yeah. It’s a big part of what we do, and it’s organized. We have metrics, we have customer satisfaction, and we have all the ways that we can possibly try and measure it, we’ll find a way to measure it.

Martyn Reding: So your new team, do you report into the customer experience part of the organization?

Paul Boag: No, I’m very connected to it though.

Martyn Reding: Oh, okay.

Paul Boag: So the digital teams sit inside the commercial team, because it’s primarily focused on eCommerce and that’s where that, the digital side of things came from.

Martyn Reding: Yeah.

Paul Boag: One of the, straight through the door I was able to identify where the key partnerships were going to be, to the brand team, and the customer experience team are very, very important to me, and I do my best, but they might disagree, but I do my best to try and walk among them, and spend as much time as I possibly can with them and see where I can help them and where they can help me, and keep them as close as we possibly can.

Paul Boag: I think it’s an integral part. I think that regardless of structure and regardless of what an [inaudible 00:27:37] chart looks like I think customer experience brand, user experience, they’re all intertwined and they should never be come thought as of separate things, cause I don’t think they are.

Martyn Reding: Yeah, and that’s so good to hear how you’re breaking down those kind of departmental silos and working alongside other people in other parts of the organization cause, in my experience when you try and establish, a very user centric culture, that’s absolute critical, because the user experience isn’t just kind of siloed in one part of the organization is it, it really spans the whole thing.

Paul Boag: No, and we differ from an organization like, let’s say, like NETFLIX, or Twitter, or something in the [inaudible 00:28:25] no matter what we do, no matter what happens, our experience is always going to be involving some degree of a physical experience.

Martyn Reding: Yeah.

Paul Boag: There’s no version of this where you don’t get on a plane and go to an airport.

Martyn Reding: Yeah.

Paul Boag: So, yeah, they have to be, they have to be, and we recognize that kind of weaving of physical and digital and particularly now is the democratization of computing marches on and screens are so much more accessible and people were walking onto planes with these wonderful devices of all different shapes and sizes. All of those things just sort of nicely blend in with one another.

Martyn Reding: Yeah. Does that, sorry, going off on a slight tangent from maybe the questions I originally had, does that create conflict ever, because you’ve got a customer experience team, that are saying “we care about the customer experience from end to end,” and you as a user experience person, pretty much say the same thing these days, so is there a kind of, every any conflict in terms of whose responsible for what?

Paul Boag: Well I think that theoretically yes, there could be in every instance like that but I know I’ve been in enough organizations that are going through kind of digital revolutions or digital transformations or whatever you want to call it and some people go into those kinds of situations with their fists up and they look for that conflict and then some instances people hide themselves in a corner and act like a scrappy start-up and maybe those things are right in those instances, but from my perspective I actually sort of prefer the kind of hand holding, calming approach, and we’re all ultimately moving towards the same thing and frankly at the moment I’ve got so much to do that I can’t afford to be trying to copy over what other people are doing. So, it’s really more about recognizing accountability and why that’s different from responsibility.

Paul Boag: It’s really also about saying despite what my ambitions and desires may be I don’t have a team of 1,000 people so I’m not going to be able to get to every single meeting, every single decision, review, every single design, sit in every single research session, look at every single piece of copy, I’m not, and nor is my team. It’s about kind of really trying to think as a single unit, as an entire organization and just say, this is our area, here’s where we can help. I’m not being a lot of use here, so I’ll back off, you do this. And so take that kind of approach to it, really. I’m not really good at just sort of kind of coming in and just starting fights with people and disrupting. I don’t think I make a very good start-up-see. I tend to just like to make friends with people.

Martyn Reding: Yeah, and to be honest I think in a well established organization, like Virgin Atlantic, that’s the way to go, that kind of confrontation, of banging heads approach, unless you’ve got really high level support behind you to be disruptive, and unless you’ve got a big team in all of the rest of it, it’s never gonna work. And even in those scenarios, even if you do have those things, you can bring about big culture change in the short term, but it kind of comes back to bite you in the longer term because you just alienated a lot of people.

Paul Boag: Yeah it does. To be honest with you there’s so many smart people here and their moving so quickly that I think that even if I did try to take that approach they’d kick me out pretty quickly.

Martyn Reding: Yeah. Exactly.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: Yeah.

Paul Boag: So, because there’s already a well established culture of customer experience within the organization I was quite surprised when I first reached out to you to hear that your role is a relatively new one, so, why do you think that is, or what do you think the need is for your role, in preference to, if so much of the organization is already focused on customer service, and, was there a weakness in that area when it came to online, where does your role fit into it? Why is only kind of now appearing if that makes sense?

Martyn Reding: Yeah, that makes sense. It’s a good question. I don’t know that I’ve fully got the answer to it. What I do know is that the team has been relatively small, and has been focused almost entirely on the E-commerce transactional side of the experience. And doing an incredible job. The people who are in the team have been here for a while have been doing an amazing job. And, I think that from what I can sort of gleam from what happened before I arrived, it was a kind of recognition from within the exact level– Digital was an area that we needed to think more expansively about and invest in more heavily. And so, the reason it’s kind of, the reason why this role was created war part of a scaling up program in this area. So, over the course of this year I’m hiring a number of roles. My intention is to build up an internal design team. To bolster the internal content team that’s here already and start to build in a research team and connect in to the product manages in a new way.

Martyn Reding: My role is about booting those teams and then running the teams, and overseeing the quality of what’s out there and seeing where our gems and our stories lie with in digital. Because there’s loads of really great stories of customer experience wins, and design achievements and little flourishes that really make it up from the physical experience that we don’t have enough of those in digital, and we haven’t sort of kept the alignment between digital and physical. So it’s, my role is about recognizing that the gap has opened up a little, and to try and close that gap.

Paul Boag: No, that makes a lot of sense. I absolutely get where you’re coming from. I just, I sat here slightly– gobsmacked, to hear you say things like “well, the executive recognized that they were maybe being a bit too transactional and needed to focus more on the customer, user experience.” I mean there will be a load of people listening to this that are just swearing now and going, I wish our executive got that. So, let’s make them feel just a little bit better, alright-

Martyn Reding: Okay.

Paul Boag: Could you share, can you share with them, any challenges that you feel you’ve faced. Where is it been a bit frustrating so far, and please don’t say “oh no, it’s all been wonderful.” Come up with something. Lie if you need to

Martyn Reding: Oh, God.

Paul Boag: Buy make people feel a little bit better.

Martyn Reding: Yeah, there’s lots of challenges.

Paul Boag: You’re really struggling aren’t you?

Martyn Reding: I’m trying to work out how to be kind, cause I, you know, people I work with are listening to this.

Paul Boag: Well, you could always say to them you lied, can’t you afterwords, so it’s fine.

Martyn Reding: Okay. So there are lots of challenges, there are a lot of people in the organization who’ve been here a long time, and like I said, there’s lots of very bright people who come up with lots of great ideas. And so, from my perspective it’s relatively easy, as newcomer, to come in and look at the airline, the E-commerce experience, the app experience, and whatever, and sort of say, oh, here’s an idea, and here’s an idea, and these are great ideas, and I’ve provided a lot of value. And you’ll very quickly find 20 people who’ve had that same idea many years ago, and have tried it, lodged it and have since wound it down.

Martyn Reding: That’s a really big challenge, because there’s so many people with so many ideas, and new ideas that are so welcomed and championed around here. It’s part of the entrepreneur-y, or foundations of the company. That you have to work really hard, and you have to move really fast to be able to come up with anything that hasn’t already been tried, tested, thought of, rejected at some point in the recent time.

Martyn Reding: I’d also, the other thing that is a challenge is, at the moment, and I can say this, because there’s nothing anyone can do about it, is, the location, cause we’re an airline, we need to be near the airports. So, sort of charming people out of [inaudible 00:37:45] or out of [inaudible 00:37:47] or out of the city is hard, because you can’t walk to a nice deli, or a pub, or anything. The offices here are beautiful, the [inaudible 00:38:01] for Virgin Atlantic is very beautiful and they take very good care of us, and we have cafes or anything, but, gettin’ people here is the tough. That is challenging.

Paul Boag: And you feel that that’s important for you to be collocated as a UX team.

Martyn Reding: As much as possible in these early stages. Yes. I mean, were happy to support people who work at home and obviously being an airline and having lots of different partners that we work with, travel is a big part of this, and people inevitability are on the move. But in these early stages is when we’re kind of trying to get in front of people and trying to be as present as possible and trying to integrate ourselves into their various projects.

Martyn Reding: Just showing up is a big part of– just a really big part of it, and there are teams that are kind of sitting over in another partner building and they’re working away really hard. My aim is just for my team to just pick up their laptops and just go be a part of that team. Just go and settle down with them and say, I’m here to help you-

Paul Boag: Yes.

Martyn Reding: I’m here to do this with you. And not really worry about, I sit with my team, you sit with your team. And so-

Paul Boag: I’m grinning from ear to ear, that’s just spot on. I love it. Go on, sorry. Keep going. I interrupted you with my enthusiasm.

Martyn Reding: So yeah, getting people who are comfortable spending 9 [inaudible 00:39:25] week days, out in the middle of nowhere in West Sussex is, that’s tough, that’s tough, but hopefully we are putting together a package and a team, and a set up that I’ll be able to draw people towards.

Paul Boag: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like such a fertile environment for a user experience person to work in, that I’m sure you might have too many problems when it comes to recruiting. But, going back to that other challenge, the one about, because of the entrepreneur and the real nature of the organization, it’s all these ideas that are coming up, and anything you suggested is probably been thought of before, and that’s something that I’ve often encountered when I’ve gone into organizations, but probably in a slightly more negative way, of ‘oh, yeah, we tried that 5 years ago and it didn’t work.’ That kind of mentality.

Paul Boag: Is there a recognition within the organization that, okay, it might not have worked 5 years ago, but the world is changing at such a rate that maybe those ideas will work now. Or do you see a resistance there?

Martyn Reding: Oh yeah. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a lot of people moaning, that’s not the case, it’s more of whether or not someone has taken that idea and gone all the way through the end of the practicalities and dropped it into a market test and actually customers weren’t that interested and it actually cost us a lot of money.

Paul Boag: Right.

Martyn Reding: And those kind of things, so as an example, we talked recently about book clubs on planes, and being able to take books on planes and having live reads for children and this whole idea of adding physical back into the experience of these kind of things. We’re all really wonderful, we’re all very excited, and then we found somebody who had been here a while and implemented something similar and they kept acting, do you know what, people came on board with their own stuff, they had no expectation, and just weren’t really interested.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: And we added weight to the plane, which meant, more fuel, which meant, as a company, we were less sustainable.

Paul Boag: Okay-

Martyn Reding: You know what I mean? Those kinds of things that you think, well okay, that’s solid thinking and that’s, you know, that’s very reasonable but what we do have here, is we have this kind of, we use this kind of mechanic of yes but, and yes and, and this is something which was sort of brought in recently, or brought back recently by Daniel Kerzner who works in our customer experience team. And he likes to do it with his team as an exercise continually of, when someone suggests something, you can’t, that kind of default response of yes, but blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah-blah, which kind of drains you is actually training yourself to say yes and-

Martyn Reding: So yeah, we can do that and, we can do it like this, and we can do it like that, and we could do this, and it becomes this kind of escalation point. So the idea, the kind of little seed of creativity that was really great at the start suddenly turns into something, maybe completely different, but it starts from a great place, and it sounds like a small language change, but the difference can be huge. You go from, here’s a tiny idea that I’m nurturing, this kind of that I’m a bit embarrassed about, to suddenly it’s blown up into something terribly exciting that no one had thought of before.

Paul Boag: That is probably the best single little take of what I’ve heard on this podcast for a long time. I love the idea of turning it round and saying yes but- yes-and. It almost reminds of run of those rules of improv comedy, isn’t it, where if somebody asks you a question you say yes to it because that takes the conversation on, rather than saying no to it which kind of closes down that avenue and you need to then start something new up.

Martyn Reding: Yeah. Yeah, and it’s culture as well, it’s ingrained, and it comes from Branson, it comes from his, he has this sort of reputation, and this name of referring to himself, or people referring to him as Dr. Yes, cause he just loves to say yes to everything.

Martyn Reding: And in the induction process when you join Virgin Atlantic, which is very involved. It takes days of kind of getting you into the company culture. At the end of it you kind of have these little sound bites and videos of Richard, and sometimes maybe he even shows up at the- and he likes to just sort of end the induction with, he just comes in and says “Yes. Now what was the question?”

Martyn Reding: He just loves to say yes to everything, and I think it’s just sort of here and dripping off the walls. This idea of taking one thing and turning it into something else and then the next, and then the next, and the next.

Paul Boag: See that brilliantly comes on to the kind of next thing I was gonna talk to you about which is, culture, and establishing the right culture within organization. It sounds like that induction process is a pretty good starting point, and that right from the very outset of joining the company that they’re establishing this entrepreneurial user centric culture. But, is there other things that you’ve seen from a cultural point of view that kind of stands out to you from a user experience point of view?

Martyn Reding: No, I think-

Paul Boag: The trouble is, you almost don’t notice it do you, it becomes business as usual as far as your concerned, I’m imagining.

Martyn Reding: I think it will do. I think it will do. I’m very attuned to that and so as I arrived here, my first few days and weeks I was looking for those keywords, and those triggers. The induction process is all, and the way you are ingratiated into the company is all, it’s all part of the brand, and it’s all part of customer experience, and it’s all part of the amount of care and time and effort that we put into people.

Martyn Reding: In terms of user experience, specifically, that’s kind of really my job, and my job is going to be very focused on, as I said, recruiting. I’m building the team, so, all CVs come to me please. But also, is then, is onboarding all of those people that come into the team and then bringing them up to speed with my ambitions and my direction I want to take the user experience in. So those kinds of things are gonna be wrapped around the set of user experience principals, which are all drawn down from the brand values.

Martyn Reding: It will be around a set of metrics, which we have as a digital team. It will be a case of everyone who comes into my team, I will put them into as many scrub teams as possible before they settle, so they can sample all the different areas. It will be all of those things, and it will be taking people in the design function and having them spend time with product managers and analysts and content team. It will be as much mixing as possible, and as much sharing as possible.

Martyn Reding: Because I don’t think any of the [inaudible 00:46:55] work has been done out in the open. And from a cultural perspective, that’s my biggest thing here, and in my last role as well, it’s one of the biggest things that I kind of kept as my– sort of means and drivers, because it’s very, it can be a very insular craft. It can be people at home headphones on, creating beautiful things, and it’s not always in our industries nature to be overt about what we’re doing.

Martyn Reding: So, as an example we’ve launched projections shortly after I stated, which was, based around redesigning the digital help, and how we help people in a digital part of experience. Sort of breaking this notion of FAQs, which I hate, and turning it into something that’s actually valuable to customers.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: And, so I formed the team, and we, product managers, and designers, and researchers, and I sat them in the middle of the office. They didn’t come and sit at the desks, they sat in the middle, right in the center, where everyone works, and everything they produced at the end of each week, we put it on boards everywhere. Just everywhere. So, this sort of practice of churning designs out, post-it notes and research just became normal for people because they just saw it everyday, and it was, it’s tough for them. That team is sitting right where the kitchens were or the phone calls were. There’s a lot of foot falls there. It’s like kind of being in Piccadilly Circus for them. But, very important because it just became so much more visible and just getting it out there and putting things up in reception and throwing things on work places, the internet, and just telling everybody continually that’s, it sounds like its self promotion but it’s actually it’s deeper than that. It’s about culturally exposing what we’re doing and making-

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: The more you do that the more people feel comfortable about it and then the less those kinds of things run, people being threatened and worrying about the responsibility goes away cause they just see it happening and they become accustomed to it I think.

Paul Boag: Yeah, couldn’t agree more. You talked in, you talked about setting metrics as part of the cultural change. Now, as somebody that’s within the commercial department, your traditional metrics would all be around sales, and conversion and those kinds of-

Martyn Reding: Yes.

Paul Boag: Things. How do you intend to start encouraging more user centric metrics? What kind of things do you think your’re gonna be measuring?

Martyn Reding: We have customer satisfaction metrics. I mean, fire- native apps. There’s no shortage of people who are gonna go on there and give you a review of what they think about you or what happened. We have a lot of open channels like, live chat, which connects into our core sense switcher are in this building.

Paul Boag: Right.

Martyn Reding: Yes. We have these sort of various roots by which customers can get to us and give us that feedback and then roots by which we proactively will go to customers after a booking or after a flight and even during flights and just post check.

Martyn Reding: But, I think the thing that’s very important for me and the thing that was a big draw to this role is that I’m the head of user experience and optimization. And, in other organizations they see, and in other organizations I’ve been in there’s a divider putting up and I find it really troubling between the people who are creating, designing, researching, and writing the experience, and this subset of people who are not connected to that who believe their role is to optimize that experience. Which in actual fact, mostly just seems to be kind of fairly black half dark, aggressive, kind of sales chasing, short term designs.

Martyn Reding: I find that really troubling cause I think they’re the same thing.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Martyn Reding: I don’t think that they’re separate. I think having metrics that you feel are. I think a sales metric is a customer experience metric. I don’t think, I think people are intelligent enough to look at an experience and say, ‘this is horrible, I don’t feel good about it, I’m not going to buy this.’

Martyn Reding: In the airline world, there is a lot of choice. They don’t have to fly with us, they- we don’t have monopolies over things, that they can go to someone else. They have chosen to come to us, and I think that is a user experience metric, and I think that the, not just the conversion rates, but the value to sale, as well, so how much they enhance or add on, or customize their flight, I think that an indication of how comfortable they are within interactions.

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Martyn Reding: I don’t think that’s the metrics of just being a pushy sales person. And then, of course, retention, I don’t think retention would happen if the experience wasn’t good. So I don’t necessarily like separating them up to be honest with you. And the user experience creation, design and management and optimization are intertwined and it’s very important to me that they’re intertwined and I think I would be, I’d think very differently about my role here, if I was just producing something into the world, and then another team took it and did stuff to it. That would be- I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that at all.

Paul Boag: I guess that’s okay when you’re, that makes a lot of sense when you’re in an organization like Virgin Atlantic, but, there is the danger in some organizations I’ve encountered where because they’re so focused on conversions, or average order value, or some metric like that, the, you know, you end up resorting to dot [inaudible 00:53:03] and that kind of stuff in order to produce though. So you must, there must already be a culture within the organization that isn’t pre- hasn’t got a predisposition towards that kind of thing. Is that a fair comment?

Martyn Reding: …..Yeah, I think it is a bit of, I don’t want to sound high and mighty about it but I think there is a moral line that runs through this, and if you’re willing to do anything whatsoever to get a sale, I don’t think any degree of great user experience is gonna help you out with that situation. And if you got execs- who are willing to not be open and forthright with their customer base, in order to make money- yeah- I agree with you in that respect. That’s just a bad place– to be.

Paul Boag: Cause you can imagine, ya know, without mentioning any specific airline names-

Martyn Reding: [crosstalk 00:54:05]

Paul Boag: There are. No I won’t do that. There are airlines that for example will add insurance onto your flights without really asking permission for it, they just add it to the basket. Now, from my point of view that’s a terrible user experience because it’s highly manipulative. And, but, they do it because that’s their culture, ya know, specially at the kind of [inaudible 00:54:31] of the market. So, in that kind of situation they’re gonna need metrics, to shift that culture you’re gonna need metrics that are maybe, less around conversion rate, and average value, and more around, I don’t know, time to complete tasks, or costumer satisfaction.

Paul Boag: There is a need to kind of balance the metrics if that makes sense.

Martyn Reding: Yeah. And I think in time all of those organizations that fall into those patterns will ultimately kind of- you know- I’m optimistic-

Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:55:14]

Martyn Reding: They will pay the price.

Martyn Reding: I think they’ll ultimately see that what they’re doing is short term, and they’ll continue to be chasing short term and at some point somebody will look at it and go, ‘do you know what the trend for us is just pointing downwards, what can we do to actually take some long tern effects.’

Martyn Reding: Cause I don’t believe that users are stupid. I believe that even that, in that scenario that you described, that if you have tricked them into insurance, they’ll know that, they’ll work that out sometimes, and they won’t feel good about that. And next time they come back, if they come back at all, they’ll be wise to you, and they’ll be much more cynical in anything that you say or do with them. So-

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Martyn Reding: But don’t be mistaken in that Virgin Atlantic is not a commercially focused organization. Our commercial team is- considerably big and it’s very successful, so, there is a continual eye on turning the team into a much more optimization lead training focused team.

Martyn Reding: So some of the roles that I’m bringing in are specifically around managing optimization and managing tests in-

Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:56:27]

Martyn Reding: – moving at a faster pace. So, I think they’re all connected, and I think they’re all intertwined, and I think that, it does help that we have a particularly custom eccentric culture here, but I think that’s still achievable in other organizations. I don’t want anyone listening to this, if anyone’s listening to me at this point still, to think that these things aren’t achievable in every organization, cause they are.

Paul Boag: Yeah. Oh, no, I would agree, absolutely. You know you just need to adapt your approaches slightly depending on the organization that you’re in. I could go on forever, but I think we probably need to wrap up. But there is one last question, that everyone listening to this is currently desperate for me to ask.

Martyn Reding: Hmm. Okay.

Paul Boag: Which is, how do they apply for a job with your team, because it sounds freakin’ amazing, and I [crosstalk 00:57:18] Is there-

Martyn Reding: Come on board.

Paul Boag: So is there a link or is there an email address, or how do they find out more about your team?

Martyn Reding: Oh, that’s a great question, I wish I prepared something for this. [crosstalk 00:57:35]

Paul Boag: So I-

Martyn Reding: Don’t worry about it. If you’re not prepared don’t worry about it because you can email me something and I’ll put it in the show notes, how bout that?

Paul Boag: Yup. So you can look at the Virgin Atlantic career site and there’s constantly- over the course of 2018 I hope they’ll be lots of roles going up there. But you know the best thing to do, the best thing to do is find me on twitter and just let’s start talking, and send me some work, and I’m happy to hear from anyone. I’ve got lots of time to talk about user experience and design and I’ll go on for hours so- I’m on Medium, I’m on Twitter, you can find me on there and just reach out.

Martyn Reding: So what is your Twitter ID just to point people in the right direction?

Paul Boag: @martynreding Martin with a Y, reding, no a, and one d.

Martyn Reding: So straight forward. I’ll put all of it in the show notes. It’ll all be there.

Martyn Reding: Martyn, that was absolute brilliant, it was so good to have you on and to just talk about what’s going in Virgin Atlantic. I love your attitude towards building a user experience team and I’m looking forward to hearing about the exciting things you do going forward. Absolute brilliant. Thank you of your time.

Paul Boag: Thank you very much, and if you find yourself down this way please drop in and say hello.

Martyn Reding: Oh, absolutely.

Paul Boag: Well there you go that was our interview with -Martyn.

Marcus Lillington: I really enjoyed listening to that, it took me back Paul.

Paul Boag: Oh did it?

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:59:17]

Marcus Lillington: I used to be signed to Virgin records when I was back in the day.

Paul Boag: Ah, but Virgin Records is not the same as Virgin Atlantic.

Marcus Lillington: It’s run by the same bloke, or set up by the same guy. Anyway.

Paul Boag: This is true.

Marcus Lillington: Even back in those days Branson was all about looking after the people, A. that worked for him, B. that bought stuff from him. I can member’ we got, we were invited to a big sort of, huge extravaganza party at his Mansion in [inaudible 00:59:48] every year.

Paul Boag: Alright.

Marcus Lillington: One year they ran out of food, so he sent out to the Oxford Mcdonalds and got something like 2,000 burgers delivered. Things like that. It was just, yeah, great- so, you know, I think that having someone whose driving a company from the top with that kind of attitudes, means that you’re kind of already, you’re already in the right place.

Paul Boag: Yeah. That was the thing that really struck me from talking to him- no disrespect for our Martyn, but he’s got it easy. You know? I’m sure he’d disagree with me strongly over that, but having someone at the top of the organization that’s giving that strong leadership and that strong, customer focus, makes such a difference doesn’t it?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, it’s almost like, I mean, alright, maybe digital first isn’t maybe something that you know, they talk about really properly, you know what I’m trying to say?

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: But just that focus on customers and doing the right thing and running your business in a way that you know, isn’t out to trick people and all that kind of thing. It just, It reminded me of what it was like back in the day.

Marcus Lillington: [crosstalk 01:01:00] years ago.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: There was one thing he did say though that I had to pick up on. That’ I’m not sure about, this idea about, you mentioned certain airlines that might trick in their quotes-

Paul Boag: Yes.

Marcus Lillington: Insurance and that kind of thing. I’m not sure that they do genuinely put people off, I think people know that that’s what’s happening, and it’s all about, I’ll put up with that if its cheap enough.

Paul Boag: Yes.

Marcus Lillington: It’s this kind of balance, kind of thing. So-

Paul Boag: Actually, that’s a really interesting observation because I was doing some usability testing with somebody relatively recently and we were testing some competitor sites, and one of them was booking.com, which is well known for this kind of manipulative behavior. And the person I was testing with said, something along the lines or, I can’t remember the exact wording, but this, all of this manipulative stuff just gets on my wick something chronic.

Paul Boag: And I said, well why do you still use the sight, because it was a site that they’d identified they used. And he said, oh, because it’s so easy to use.

Paul Boag: So he was willing to put up with the crap because of the ease of use. It’s interesting isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah. It’s a bit like saying–the cheapest supermarket Aldi and [inaudible 01:02:18] and that kind of thing. They’re not out to trick you, there’s no frills.

Paul Boag: No.

Marcus Lillington: But several people will put up with the no frills if the price is right, kind of thing. It’s a balance kind of thing.

Marcus Lillington: But finally, I swore blind that when you said, the most important question I need to ask you is, I thought you were gonna say, how to get an upgrade.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I should of, that would have been a much better question. Damn.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, well, it’s too late now isn’t it.

Paul Boag: So, if you want to follow Martyn and the stuff that he’s doing you can do so at he said at twitter.com/MartynReding. I’d also encourage you to check out the, his Medium post about where he’s looking to recruit people. It’s a bit of a mammoth URL. So what we’ll do is we’ll put a link to the show notes to that instead, but it is definitely worth checking that out if you fancy a job in UX cause it seems like he’s a bitty bee in the minute.

Marcus Lillington: I can’t think of many places that be nice to work than that.

Paul Boag: No I can’t either.

Marcus Lillington: It’s like wow.

Paul Boag: Yeah. Absolutely. Anyway, so there we go that is a pretty much us done, except to mention our second sponsor, and I am so ch- [inaudible 01:03:38], It’s Balsamiq. They’re doing another season with us, right. They’re back and I’ve been doing so much work with these guys recently, it’s so much fun.

Paul Boag: At the moment I’m working on them, with them, on a 5 hour master class on encouraging conversion in a way that isn’t manipulative going back to what we’ve just said.

Paul Boag: That’s why I’m so busy at the moment Marcus. I’m writing that like mad. I think it’s the biggest, the most complicated thing I’ve ever done and Balsamiq is supporting me doing it and Oh I’m so excited!

Paul Boag: But they’ll be more on that later or I’ll bore you endlessly about that in the future.

Paul Boag: For now, let’s just talk about Balsamiq. In case you didn’t catch last season you really should check out Balsamiq cloud. It is by far, in my opinion, and that’s not just cause they’re supporting my master class, the fastest, easiest, and most collaborative method for [inaudible 01:04:38] right now. I honestly believe that.

Paul Boag: Everything, if you know how to do drag and drop you can use this. It’s so, so straight forward. And that means anybody can use it. You can create a great experience, you can test and prototype a really good experience without having to get out some fancy design tool, which means your manager can do it, stake holders can do it, you can get users doing it.

Paul Boag: It’s actually even easier than pen and paper because it is just drag and drop. It’s great for collaboration as well and also for designers if they want to collaborate in real time with maybe a stake holder or a customer. It’s so much more straight forward than some of the more kind of fancy prototyping tools out there. So it’s really good for quickly putting things together in the room with a client.

Paul Boag: I would encourage you to give it a go basically. You can find out more by going to boag.world/Balsamiq and yeah, give it a try

Marcus Lillington: Cool.

Paul Boag: Okay, I think, other than your joke, we’re done. Let’s get the joke out of the way then I suppose.

Paul Boag: I don’t suppose we can drop the joke because you do the thought for the day now?

Marcus Lillington: It’s not up to me Paul. It’s up to the millions of listeners.

Paul Boag: Go ahead.

Marcus Lillington: Come on.

Paul Boag: Spit it out.

Marcus Lillington: This is from Sean Donns, I think that’s how you pronounce his name. On the [inaudible 01:06:09] channel, thank you, more jokes please people.

Marcus Lillington: Why did Mr. Potato Head turn down a job offer at the sports network?

Paul Boag: Go on.

Marcus Lillington: Because he didn’t want to be a common-tater.

Paul Boag: Oh. No. Oh that is proper dad joke, well done.

Marcus Lillington: I did like that one.

Paul Boag: Yeah, no, I liked that one as well. I approve.

Paul Boag: Cool, alright well, that’s our fist episode done, no doubt it’s gonna be a mammoth one, but who cares, I suppose the people listening do, but we don’t and that’s the main thing.

Paul Boag: Join us again next week, let’s se who’ve we got on next weeks show. Well we’ve got Andrew Miller, Apparently he’s not called Matt. Who is from the university of Dundee, and we’ll get to talk to him about creating user experience culture in a higher education institution. Could not be more different than Virgin Atlantic, but until next week thanks for listening.

Paul Boag: [01:07:17]

Paul Boag: PaulBoag.com

Paul Boag: PaulBoag.com

Paul Boag: PaulBoag.com

 

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  • My book on building user-centric culture.
  • My card deck of techniques for building a user-centric culture.
  • Transcript

    Paul Boag: The Boagworld Show is back, for a season about how you can build a more user-centric culture at your organization. We begin our journey by talking to Martyn Reding about a culture at Virgin Atlantic.

    Paul Boag: This episode of the Boagworld Show is brought to you by Tickera and Balsamiq

    Paul Boag: Hello, welcome to the Boagworld Show, the podcast about all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. My name is Paul Boag, and we’re back. And Marcus is back with me.

    Marcus Lillington: Woo, yeah, woo, yeah. I’m feeling a little bit relaxed after my lovely holiday.

    Paul Boag: Did you have a lovely one? Where did you go?

    Marcus Lillington: I went to the Caribbean, to the Dominican Republic.

    Paul Boag: Ahahhh. [crosstalk 00:01:06]

    Marcus Lillington: Very, very, nice.

    Paul Boag: How long, that’s quite a long flight, isn’t it, to Dominican Republic?

    Marcus Lillington: It was about 9 hours on the way out and a bit longer than 8 on the way back. But yeah, it was fine.

    Paul Boag: I disapprove. I’m not used, you see, what you need to understand Marcus, is now, I am single handily saving the planet.

    Marcus Lillington: I’ve been gathering that from your comments.

    Paul Boag: Yes. I haven–

    Marcus Lillington: No one cares. No one cares. [crosstalk 00:01:26]

    Paul Boag: I have an electric car- [crosstalk 00:01:30] – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So this is the new latest purchase I’ve made. We’ve purchased an electric car, so therefore, I am suddenly incredibly opinionated about ecological issues and like to bring it up at every opportunity to talk about how terrible other people are to the planet in a smug and self satisfying way.

    Marcus Lillington: Tell me it’s a Tesla.

    Paul Boag: No, I can’t afford a bloody Tesla! Whatcha’ think, I’m made of money, I’m, we are redoing our house? They cost a fortune! No, it’s a Nissan Leaf.

    Marcus Lillington: The new one?

    Paul Boag: Yeah. Yeah. It’s nice.

    Marcus Lillington: Well, they look love-ly.

    Paul Boag: I’ve got to say it is absolutely brilliant. It’s like driving a bumper car, because, you only have one pedal, you see. You put your foot to accelerate, and you take it off, it stops. It’s like idiot proof. So, perfect for me.

    Marcus Lillington: That does worry me a bit though. That one pedal thing.

    Paul Boag: Oh, you could turn it off.

    Marcus Lillington: Right, but you kinda have to, you can’t do an emergency stop if you needed to–

    Paul Boag: Oh, yeah. Well, you could turn it off entirely, if you wanted to.

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: But, also, you could, you regularly still have to put your foot on the break, because, ya know, you get maybe a bit enthusiastic.

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: And so, it’s not like you never use the break. It’s just—

    Marcus Lillington: I see, I just imagine there was one pedal.

    Paul Boag: No.

    Marcus Lillington: That would scare me a bit.

    Paul Boag: No, No, No. So yeah, anyway, that’s what’s been happening in my world. And we’re almost back.

    Marcus Lillington: But, far more importantly I have to comment you on how gorgeous you’re looking in all of your shots now Paul.

    Paul Boag: Well, Yes.

    Marcus Lillington: Was there any Photoshop in there?

    Paul Boag: About. I’m told no.

    Marcus Lillington: Right.

    Paul Boag: I had to get some photographs done.

    Marcus Lillington: You look like a film star.

    Paul Boag: I think the lighting was very well done. Let’s put it like that.

    Paul Boag: It was horrible getting it done but it, desperately needed to. I’m always getting asked for photos of me for speaking, and that kind of stuff. I finely bit the bullet and thought, I’ll do it, but, an experience I never want to repeat.

    Marcus Lillington: [crosstalk 00:03:40] Yeah, weird. I did loads of it obviously when I was younger, I’d hate to have to do it again.

    Paul Boag: Ah, just, yeah, anyway. So there’s that. So Let’s tell people about this season of podcast-

    Marcus Lillington: Yes.

    Paul Boag: We have to stay a bit on schedule this season, because most of the episodes are made up of interviews. We’ve got a whole load of interviews coming up over the season, so, essentially what the season is about, is about building a user centric culture in your organization and all the challenges and stuff that goes around doing that. And we’ve got an amazing line-up of guests that are gonna be on the season, and so, what I’ve essentially tried to do is create the biggest cross section of companies I could think of and look at their culture within their organization and how user-centric it is, or how un-user-centric it is. So, it’s a real mix.

    Paul Boag: So, today we’ve got Matt Redding –

    Marcus Lillington: Martin.

    Paul Boag: From Virgin Atlantic, which is, Virgin Atlantic is obviously, known as a very, kind of, customer friendly, and customer centric company. Next week we’ve got somebody from the University of Dundee. Talk about totally different. The week after, somebody from Cisco, and then somebody from IBM, who at are very different places out in their journey, even though they are in a very similar sector. We’ve got people from, somebody from Uber coming on. Then we’ve got somebody from a sex toy manufacturing company.

    Marcus Lillington: Whose been on the show before too.

    Paul Boag: Who has been on the show- but an amazing, amazingly interesting story to tell about the challenges around customer experience. So, it’s one of my favorite interviews. It’s comin’ up actually. And then, we’ve got people from agencies and insurance companies, and all kinds of stuff. So, it’s a really interesting season, where you get insights into what’s going on in all of these companies. So, I’m really looking forward to it, I think it’s going to be a good one.

    Marcus Lillington: Well, I’ve listened to a couple so far, and yes they are both top,

    Paul Boag: I know right?

    Marcus Lillington: Very interesting.

    Paul Boag: Good. So, but we’re gonna do something else this season. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this Marcus.

    Marcus Lillington: Yes.

    Paul Boag: Alright. How many, I mean we’ve done what, 500 plus episodes? I would have thought by now we must be pushing that kinda number.

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah. There abouts, yeah.

    Paul Boag: Yeah, and over all that time you’ve basically done nothing. That is not actually true but.

    Marcus Lillington: Yes. Go with that.

    Paul Boag: Okay, I’ll give you the fact that you come up with the joke at the end of each episode. But, you don’t really provide any value.

    Marcus Lillington: Paul, Paul, Paul.

    Paul Boag: You’ve been dead weight for these 10 plus years.

    Marcus Lillington: Well, I love you too.

    Paul Boag: So, dear listener, I’m encouraging Marcus to actually do some work this season.

    Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Paul Boag: We’re gonna introduce a new segment at the start of the show called “ A Thought for the day from Marcus Lillington.” And Marcus is gonna share some profundity with us and, I think this is, I’m really excited about this because, Marcus has this huge well of decades worth of experience, and knowledge of working in the digital sector. He’s, you know, so I am utterly convinced that every syllable that comes out of his mouth is going to be life changing for people.

    Marcus Lillington: It will be very similar. I expected the thought that [crosstalk 00:07:21] on radio at 4 in the morning, when, the leaders of the various churches and religions, and religions around the world come on and say very wise words about how to live your life, well, and it will be pretty much, maybe even a bit better than that.

    Paul Boag: I actually think. I think it’s gonna be better. I think it’s gonna be a lot more relevant to our audience.

    Marcus Lillington: That’s my biggest problem, keeping things relevant. But hey.

    Paul Boag: So I think–

    Marcus Lillington: This weeks is.

    Paul Boag: You’ve got one. You’re ready.

    Marcus Lillington: Yes.

    Paul Boag: Oh, you’re actually prepared. You know it didn’t even occur to me that you might actually have one ready for the first show.

    Marcus Lillington: Okay. I was thinking the other day.

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Marcus Lillington: And quite a few other days actually, that quite a lot of the time we struggle to get any kind of user input into the start of the projects we do. Now, obviously you want as much input from users as you can get, on beginning, throughout, a project. But, basically we do a lot of work for kind of, quite, high powered law firms, and they’re, they all have various different audiences, some of which we can get to, but the most important one, the people that sort of decide to hire these people, they are not interested in the slightest in feeding back to some questions or an interview from me about how a website is. They are not interested. So, what do you do basically. This is the thrust of this post.

    Marcus Lillington: What do you do if you can’t get to any users? So I was starting to think about it, and I thought well, one of the most common things to do, even if we can get to some of the users is, well, let’s do a survey. And it seemed, I think, particularly, buy people within organizations as, surveys have seen that this kind of way of validating everything that comes afterwards.

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Marcus Lillington: Survey said, we should be doing this so, we’re gonna do that. But, we’ve, I mean we’ve done loads of surveys over the years, I mean, I don’t even remember Paul when we worked for NSF, we did about 20 surveys.

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative) I do.

    Marcus Lillington: In all different languages as well, but, not singling them out, but my general feeling over the years is the surveys aren’t that useful. I think you can get them wrong, you can ask far too many questions, you can ask too many open ended questions, questions that you can’t really do anything with once you get the responses; but even if you do it right, you ask just maybe two questions and you really can do something with it, I still don’t think that they’re that useful.

    Paul Boag: Really?

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:10:01] What about if there is something like top task analysis?

    Marcus Lillington: I think, I’ve done it, and I think that you can certainly input that data. I don’t think you’re getting, necessarily bad data, from something from out of top task analysis. But what you’re getting is — The people that respond to surveys, generally, are people that love you, or hate you.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Marcus Lillington: And I’ve just, I can really go on my own feelings here, but, I occasionally do respond to surveys and it’s either in that I absolutely love what you’re doing and I want to tell you about it, tell you you’re doing it brilliantly, or, I’m gonna have a write-all moan, otherwise, I just carry on.

    Marcus Lillington: So, I guess the point I’m making there, is that I think that though, and I’ve just said that I think the data you get is valid, I think it’s skewed. So, therefore, you may end up being, you may create a skew designed from your skewed data.

    Paul Boag: I agree with that. [inaudible 00:11:01] I think to some degree it depends on the questions you ask. So something like, in a top task analysis test, you’re not asking what people think of anything, you’re literally asking them why they were here.

    Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Paul Boag: What were they coming to do? What do they want to achieve? And, so that’s less likely to be skewed, but generally speaking I absolutely agree, yeah. [inaudible 00:11:24]

    Marcus Lillington: Still likely to get someone, skip it if they’re in the middle of your user, or the majority of your users want to skip that answer to the question.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Marcus Lillington: Anyway. Moving.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Marcus Lillington: Other things you can do. Obviously we can look at analytics, and you can look at analytics without speaking to any user ever.

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Marcus Lillington: So that’s kinda good. You can look at popular and unpopular pages, one’s with high bounce rates, etc. etc. and you can extrapolate kind of, user behavior, patterns from that data. That’s a hard to do and it’s something that now colleague Chris Scott is very good at doing. Basically creating ways of looking at analytic data to enable extrapolations of that data. But again, the problem with analytics is you’re always looking at past stuff-

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Marcus Lillington: So you can’t ask the user what their ideal experience might be. How they feel about something, you can just look at the figures. It’s useful, but it’s a kind of supporting mechanism.

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Marcus Lillington: The other one is sales people. So if you can’t get to speak to actual end users, speak to people, who speak to end users.

    Paul Boag: Like this one.

    Marcus Lillington: And that can, it’s not necessary, got full blown sales man in a suit. It might be someone at a help desk, live chat, that kind of thing. And their responses I think are really useful and I think it’s really important that you speak to people in those roles. What I find, my problem with that, is they tend not to want to be spoken to. Senior managers are always, senior people. The organizations are always delighted to sit down for an hour and talk to you about this, that, and the other, but sales people tend to think it’s a bit of a waste of their time. But, try, I guess, is my message there.

    Marcus Lillington: And finally, is this idea of sort of trusting your gut, or trust your own skill and experience. Start to kind of build a prototype first, that you can test. Obviously if you can’t get anyone to test than that’s just a different thing, but you can test something real, even with the people you’re working with. With you stake holders.

    Marcus Lillington: Get in and build something quickly, so that there’s something real that people can get in and around.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Marcus Lillington: That’s pretty much my thought for the day.

    Paul Boag: I like that and I certainly agree very much with that last one about sometimes just building something quick and dirty and then putting it out there and seeing how people responded by far the best way of getting an idea whether it’s working or not, because then that almost solves what you were saying about the analytics, of what it doesn’t show you the future. Well you shove analytics on your prototype, and you get to see whether people are responding to your future possible approach.

    Marcus Lillington: [inaudible 00:14:13]

    Paul Boag: Okay, well, that’s brilliant. Thank you very much for your– You did very well.

    Marcus Lillington: [crosstalk 00:14:19]

    Marcus Lillington: One out of ten, how many-

    Paul Boag: Ten.

    Marcus Lillington: We’re doing–

    Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:14:24]

    Paul Boag: I’m presuming your going to do this forever now. That’s it. You’ve committed yourself.

    Marcus Lillington: I quite like it, but, it’s not easy coming up with things.

    Paul Boag: Welcome to my world.

    Marcus Lillington: I had that for the past 5 years. I had that all written since–

    Paul Boag: Yay. If you want to see what Marcus is written, I’ve just created a short link for you, which is, Boag.world/userinput

    Marcus Lillington: [inaudible 00:14:52]

    Paul Boag: Okay, let’s do our first interview which is with Martin Redding, as I said at the top of the show.

    Marcus Lillington: You actually said Matt, but he won’t mind.

    Paul Boag: Oh, did I?

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: Oh.

    Marcus Lillington: But you can apologize now, cause I noticed.

    Paul Boag: You can go in and add that in like, a badly dubbed movie.

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah. Martin.

    Paul Boag: Yeah. Do it in your voice as well, that would be really funny. Okay. So Martin. That’s terrible. The first guest and I’ve already screwed it up.

    Paul Boag: So he works with Virgin Atlantic and I really enjoyed this interview with him, but, I’m gonna make you wait just a little bit longer for that. But before we get that I want a quickly tell you about our first sponsor of the day, which is, Tickera, and–

    Marcus Lillington: What. Never heard of em.

    Paul Boag: Just because you’ve never heard of em’ doesn’t mean they’re not good Marcus.

    Marcus Lillington: No, no, it was an invitation to tell me more.

    Paul Boag: Oh, okay, right, so they sell tickets, right, well, they don’t sell tickets, they enable you to sell tickets. If you’ve got a word press site. So maybe you’re doing an event or, conference, anything like that. You’ve got a word press site and you want to be able to sell tickets to the event, whatever the event is, then you should definitely check out Tickera.

    Paul Boag: They’ve got 80,000 downloads. So they are well established, well used, plug in for word press. Credibly highly recommended if you read the reviews and stuff that people have written. And it’s got really great work flow, that integrates into your existing content, and it’s really straight forward to use, setup and all the rest of it, as you would expect. Customers can even do things like select specifically what seat their gonna have if you want to offer that functionality.

    Paul Boag: When it comes to actually people turning up at the event and you wanting to check them in, this type of system also comes with check in apps, for Iware for Android, and Chrome, so that you can actually check people in when they arrive. So you don’t have to pay the overheads with some of these other services that do all of that for you, you can just run it all on your own site.

    Paul Boag: And, you can even check people in without internet coverage, which is very useful as it’s inevitably bad at events. So, they support 100s of payment gateways, 20 plus built in payment gateways, including things like WooCommerce, which is really common word press. But they’ve got loads of other stuff.

    Paul Boag: Also, with WooCommerce, as well, they have like this bridge that kind of communicates with the WooCommerce add-ons. But you can use any payment gate you want, basically, they’ve got loads of them.

    Paul Boag: So, if you want to find out more about them, give em’ a try. Go along to Boag.world/ticket, Oh sorry, ticketer, which is tickera, there we go. Okay so, into the interview.

    Paul Boag: Martyn, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the show. It’s really good to have you with us today.

    Martyn Reding: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.

    Paul Boag: Yeah, it’s really good, so, this is a part of a new season for us. We’re looking at user experience, and the building user experience culture within organizations. And so, I kind of sat down and I was thinking about different companies that are at different stages in that journey. And, one company that let to mind was Virgin Atlantic because your known for providing a great user experience as an organization, or a customer experience should I say. So, I thought, let’s get somebody from Virgin Atlantic on the show to have a chat about it. But before we jump into that, tell us, tell me a little about your role at Virgin Atlantic. What is it that you do? How long have you been in post, that kind of stuff? Just to give people a bit of background.

    Martyn Reding: Sure, okay, so normally I am the head of user experience and optimization. My role is a new role, so I’ve only been in this role, this role has only really existed since November 2017. So it’s new for the organization.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: And, what that means for me at the moment is I’m in the process of building, formally building a user experience team. As you know, user experience happens whether you’re designing it or not. Whether not you’re consciously doing it, it is happening and so, my role was created to kind of bring a focal point to all of that, and to try and find a means by which we could string together all of the different elements to the digital experience.

    Martyn Reding: At the moment my role is very much about putting foundations in place. My role is very much about the setting up and the introduction of how the team will work. There’s an awful lot of kind of, what people would describe as design ops at this point in time. So establishing the tool set, establishing the tool kit, establishing what the roles will be and how they will form and grow over time. How we’ll connect into teams. All of those kinds of things.

    Martyn Reding: So, at the moment it’s me putting sticks in the ground and measuring things up and standing back and looking at it.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: So, deciding the shape of it. Yeah, there’s a lot to do. There’s a lot of foundational building work to do. And then aside from that, because Virgin Atlantic is not a company that stand still. It’s a company that moves very, very quickly, so, as much as maybe as I would like to sometimes, the company isn’t gonna sit here and stop doing anything until I’ve got all of the pieces in place. There’s a great analogy for my role here is building a plane that’s charging down the runway, so, I’m trying to then work out a way of bringing value into current projects. Projects that are about to launch, while at the same time, building a team.

    Paul Boag: Wow, that sounds easy then. No trouble.

    Martyn Reding: Right, yeah. I’ve got a lot of Grey hairs as a result.

    Paul Boag: I’ll bet you have. On the other hand, as hard as that does sound, like I said at the beginning Virgin Atlantic is kind of known for its great customer service. Typically, airlines are crap, let’s be honest. We all love a good moan about airlines and there’s been very high profile examples of that.

    Martyn Reding: Don’t draw me into that.

    Paul Boag: I won’t.

    Martyn Reding: I’m aware of where peoples section of it sits in the world. And you know what-

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: It’s very, very easy for companies to say, they put customers at the heart, it’s very, very, easy, and you hear that a lot. Right. Customers–

    Paul Boag: Yeah you will.

    Martyn Reding: Are the center of what we do and it’s very important to us. And, sure that’s fine and that’s really easy to say, but I genuinely for all the companies I’ve worked with and for, I’ve never experienced anything like Virgin Atlantic, in terms of how high up the priority order and how much power and emphasis is given to customers. It’s really huge. And, what I’ve found and what I’ve seen lots of times, in lots of different organizations is that you go in there and you find somewhere in some corner this really diligent, hard working, and often frustrated team of designers and researchers-

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Martyn Reding: And concept strategists, and developers, and product managers possibly, and they’re all trying to, we’ve heard it before right, getting a seat at the able, they’re trying to be heard.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: And they’re trying to be, sort of kick doors down and get into conversations. And, it’s sort of upside down here, and it took me a while to really get my head around it, and all the doors are open, and Virgin Atlantic is sort of begging for more customer insight, and more user centered practices. But, we just don’t have enough people. We don’t have the team in place. So, it’s kind of the other way around here. There’s no. I don’t think there’s any conversation that I could imagine anywhere around this organization where if someone said, this created bad experience, the answer would ever be, we just need to do it anyway.

    Paul Boag: Wow.

    Martyn Reding: I don’t think that exists here, and I think it’s really rare. Which is what is really ultimately drawn me to this role.

    Paul Boag: I’m not surprised. [crosstalk 00:23:59] That’s a dream job you’ve landed.

    Martyn Reding: Well, it’s treated me very well so far.

    Paul Boag: So, where does that come from, do you think? I mean admittedly I haven’t been in post that long, but, that kind of culture, well, it- where, how did it originate at Virgin Atlantic and is it nurtured, do you seeing ways that it’s reinforced if that makes sense?

    Martyn Reding: Well, Yes, Yes. So, where does it come from? It comes right from the start to be honest with you. It’s right through our genes, it’s in our history, it was how we were formed.

    Paul Boag: Right.

    Martyn Reding: And it’s, you know, you can trace back through kind of Branson’s biographies and documentaries and all that kind of information about where the airline came from. And, at the very, very start, the very first flight that this airline ever took, they poured so much into the experience of their-

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: And just, they’ve just continued to do so.

    Martyn Reding: And I think I’ll get in trouble for misquoting this, but there is a quote out there somewhere about how he kind of referred to the fact that he’s not in the airline business, he’s in the entertainment business.

    Paul Boag: Ah.

    Martyn Reding: And there’s history in there’s all these wonderful stories from the past that are kind of floating around inside the organization about how the cabin crew used to, before they were films and music and inflight entertainment and stuff, they used to come round and hand out packs of cards and they used to play eye spy with the kids, and all those things and that’s just been there right from the very, very start. From the free champagne and the celebrities, all the way through to all of that kind of, all the finite work that happens here every single day.

    Paul Boag: Yeah. I mean do you, is it built into like the metrics that the organization is measuring, or, any policies or procedures, or is it kind of more organic than that?

    Martyn Reding: No, it’s very considered. It’s very well structured. We have customer experience represented at an executive level. We have a customer experience exec- who sits alongside the IT exec- and the finance exec- You know it’s right up there in our leadership team.

    Paul Boag: Yeah. It’s a big part of what we do, and it’s organized. We have metrics, we have customer satisfaction, and we have all the ways that we can possibly try and measure it, we’ll find a way to measure it.

    Martyn Reding: So your new team, do you report into the customer experience part of the organization?

    Paul Boag: No, I’m very connected to it though.

    Martyn Reding: Oh, okay.

    Paul Boag: So the digital teams sit inside the commercial team, because it’s primarily focused on eCommerce and that’s where that, the digital side of things came from.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: One of the, straight through the door I was able to identify where the key partnerships were going to be, to the brand team, and the customer experience team are very, very important to me, and I do my best, but they might disagree, but I do my best to try and walk among them, and spend as much time as I possibly can with them and see where I can help them and where they can help me, and keep them as close as we possibly can.

    Paul Boag: I think it’s an integral part. I think that regardless of structure and regardless of what an [inaudible 00:27:37] chart looks like I think customer experience brand, user experience, they’re all intertwined and they should never be come thought as of separate things, cause I don’t think they are.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah, and that’s so good to hear how you’re breaking down those kind of departmental silos and working alongside other people in other parts of the organization cause, in my experience when you try and establish, a very user centric culture, that’s absolute critical, because the user experience isn’t just kind of siloed in one part of the organization is it, it really spans the whole thing.

    Paul Boag: No, and we differ from an organization like, let’s say, like NETFLIX, or Twitter, or something in the [inaudible 00:28:25] no matter what we do, no matter what happens, our experience is always going to be involving some degree of a physical experience.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: There’s no version of this where you don’t get on a plane and go to an airport.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: So, yeah, they have to be, they have to be, and we recognize that kind of weaving of physical and digital and particularly now is the democratization of computing marches on and screens are so much more accessible and people were walking onto planes with these wonderful devices of all different shapes and sizes. All of those things just sort of nicely blend in with one another.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah. Does that, sorry, going off on a slight tangent from maybe the questions I originally had, does that create conflict ever, because you’ve got a customer experience team, that are saying “we care about the customer experience from end to end,” and you as a user experience person, pretty much say the same thing these days, so is there a kind of, every any conflict in terms of whose responsible for what?

    Paul Boag: Well I think that theoretically yes, there could be in every instance like that but I know I’ve been in enough organizations that are going through kind of digital revolutions or digital transformations or whatever you want to call it and some people go into those kinds of situations with their fists up and they look for that conflict and then some instances people hide themselves in a corner and act like a scrappy start-up and maybe those things are right in those instances, but from my perspective I actually sort of prefer the kind of hand holding, calming approach, and we’re all ultimately moving towards the same thing and frankly at the moment I’ve got so much to do that I can’t afford to be trying to copy over what other people are doing. So, it’s really more about recognizing accountability and why that’s different from responsibility.

    Paul Boag: It’s really also about saying despite what my ambitions and desires may be I don’t have a team of 1,000 people so I’m not going to be able to get to every single meeting, every single decision, review, every single design, sit in every single research session, look at every single piece of copy, I’m not, and nor is my team. It’s about kind of really trying to think as a single unit, as an entire organization and just say, this is our area, here’s where we can help. I’m not being a lot of use here, so I’ll back off, you do this. And so take that kind of approach to it, really. I’m not really good at just sort of kind of coming in and just starting fights with people and disrupting. I don’t think I make a very good start-up-see. I tend to just like to make friends with people.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah, and to be honest I think in a well established organization, like Virgin Atlantic, that’s the way to go, that kind of confrontation, of banging heads approach, unless you’ve got really high level support behind you to be disruptive, and unless you’ve got a big team in all of the rest of it, it’s never gonna work. And even in those scenarios, even if you do have those things, you can bring about big culture change in the short term, but it kind of comes back to bite you in the longer term because you just alienated a lot of people.

    Paul Boag: Yeah it does. To be honest with you there’s so many smart people here and their moving so quickly that I think that even if I did try to take that approach they’d kick me out pretty quickly.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah. Exactly.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah.

    Paul Boag: So, because there’s already a well established culture of customer experience within the organization I was quite surprised when I first reached out to you to hear that your role is a relatively new one, so, why do you think that is, or what do you think the need is for your role, in preference to, if so much of the organization is already focused on customer service, and, was there a weakness in that area when it came to online, where does your role fit into it? Why is only kind of now appearing if that makes sense?

    Martyn Reding: Yeah, that makes sense. It’s a good question. I don’t know that I’ve fully got the answer to it. What I do know is that the team has been relatively small, and has been focused almost entirely on the E-commerce transactional side of the experience. And doing an incredible job. The people who are in the team have been here for a while have been doing an amazing job. And, I think that from what I can sort of gleam from what happened before I arrived, it was a kind of recognition from within the exact level– Digital was an area that we needed to think more expansively about and invest in more heavily. And so, the reason it’s kind of, the reason why this role was created war part of a scaling up program in this area. So, over the course of this year I’m hiring a number of roles. My intention is to build up an internal design team. To bolster the internal content team that’s here already and start to build in a research team and connect in to the product manages in a new way.

    Martyn Reding: My role is about booting those teams and then running the teams, and overseeing the quality of what’s out there and seeing where our gems and our stories lie with in digital. Because there’s loads of really great stories of customer experience wins, and design achievements and little flourishes that really make it up from the physical experience that we don’t have enough of those in digital, and we haven’t sort of kept the alignment between digital and physical. So it’s, my role is about recognizing that the gap has opened up a little, and to try and close that gap.

    Paul Boag: No, that makes a lot of sense. I absolutely get where you’re coming from. I just, I sat here slightly– gobsmacked, to hear you say things like “well, the executive recognized that they were maybe being a bit too transactional and needed to focus more on the customer, user experience.” I mean there will be a load of people listening to this that are just swearing now and going, I wish our executive got that. So, let’s make them feel just a little bit better, alright-

    Martyn Reding: Okay.

    Paul Boag: Could you share, can you share with them, any challenges that you feel you’ve faced. Where is it been a bit frustrating so far, and please don’t say “oh no, it’s all been wonderful.” Come up with something. Lie if you need to

    Martyn Reding: Oh, God.

    Paul Boag: Buy make people feel a little bit better.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah, there’s lots of challenges.

    Paul Boag: You’re really struggling aren’t you?

    Martyn Reding: I’m trying to work out how to be kind, cause I, you know, people I work with are listening to this.

    Paul Boag: Well, you could always say to them you lied, can’t you afterwords, so it’s fine.

    Martyn Reding: Okay. So there are lots of challenges, there are a lot of people in the organization who’ve been here a long time, and like I said, there’s lots of very bright people who come up with lots of great ideas. And so, from my perspective it’s relatively easy, as newcomer, to come in and look at the airline, the E-commerce experience, the app experience, and whatever, and sort of say, oh, here’s an idea, and here’s an idea, and these are great ideas, and I’ve provided a lot of value. And you’ll very quickly find 20 people who’ve had that same idea many years ago, and have tried it, lodged it and have since wound it down.

    Martyn Reding: That’s a really big challenge, because there’s so many people with so many ideas, and new ideas that are so welcomed and championed around here. It’s part of the entrepreneur-y, or foundations of the company. That you have to work really hard, and you have to move really fast to be able to come up with anything that hasn’t already been tried, tested, thought of, rejected at some point in the recent time.

    Martyn Reding: I’d also, the other thing that is a challenge is, at the moment, and I can say this, because there’s nothing anyone can do about it, is, the location, cause we’re an airline, we need to be near the airports. So, sort of charming people out of [inaudible 00:37:45] or out of [inaudible 00:37:47] or out of the city is hard, because you can’t walk to a nice deli, or a pub, or anything. The offices here are beautiful, the [inaudible 00:38:01] for Virgin Atlantic is very beautiful and they take very good care of us, and we have cafes or anything, but, gettin’ people here is the tough. That is challenging.

    Paul Boag: And you feel that that’s important for you to be collocated as a UX team.

    Martyn Reding: As much as possible in these early stages. Yes. I mean, were happy to support people who work at home and obviously being an airline and having lots of different partners that we work with, travel is a big part of this, and people inevitability are on the move. But in these early stages is when we’re kind of trying to get in front of people and trying to be as present as possible and trying to integrate ourselves into their various projects.

    Martyn Reding: Just showing up is a big part of– just a really big part of it, and there are teams that are kind of sitting over in another partner building and they’re working away really hard. My aim is just for my team to just pick up their laptops and just go be a part of that team. Just go and settle down with them and say, I’m here to help you-

    Paul Boag: Yes.

    Martyn Reding: I’m here to do this with you. And not really worry about, I sit with my team, you sit with your team. And so-

    Paul Boag: I’m grinning from ear to ear, that’s just spot on. I love it. Go on, sorry. Keep going. I interrupted you with my enthusiasm.

    Martyn Reding: So yeah, getting people who are comfortable spending 9 [inaudible 00:39:25] week days, out in the middle of nowhere in West Sussex is, that’s tough, that’s tough, but hopefully we are putting together a package and a team, and a set up that I’ll be able to draw people towards.

    Paul Boag: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like such a fertile environment for a user experience person to work in, that I’m sure you might have too many problems when it comes to recruiting. But, going back to that other challenge, the one about, because of the entrepreneur and the real nature of the organization, it’s all these ideas that are coming up, and anything you suggested is probably been thought of before, and that’s something that I’ve often encountered when I’ve gone into organizations, but probably in a slightly more negative way, of ‘oh, yeah, we tried that 5 years ago and it didn’t work.’ That kind of mentality.

    Paul Boag: Is there a recognition within the organization that, okay, it might not have worked 5 years ago, but the world is changing at such a rate that maybe those ideas will work now. Or do you see a resistance there?

    Martyn Reding: Oh yeah. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a lot of people moaning, that’s not the case, it’s more of whether or not someone has taken that idea and gone all the way through the end of the practicalities and dropped it into a market test and actually customers weren’t that interested and it actually cost us a lot of money.

    Paul Boag: Right.

    Martyn Reding: And those kind of things, so as an example, we talked recently about book clubs on planes, and being able to take books on planes and having live reads for children and this whole idea of adding physical back into the experience of these kind of things. We’re all really wonderful, we’re all very excited, and then we found somebody who had been here a while and implemented something similar and they kept acting, do you know what, people came on board with their own stuff, they had no expectation, and just weren’t really interested.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: And we added weight to the plane, which meant, more fuel, which meant, as a company, we were less sustainable.

    Paul Boag: Okay-

    Martyn Reding: You know what I mean? Those kinds of things that you think, well okay, that’s solid thinking and that’s, you know, that’s very reasonable but what we do have here, is we have this kind of, we use this kind of mechanic of yes but, and yes and, and this is something which was sort of brought in recently, or brought back recently by Daniel Kerzner who works in our customer experience team. And he likes to do it with his team as an exercise continually of, when someone suggests something, you can’t, that kind of default response of yes, but blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah-blah, which kind of drains you is actually training yourself to say yes and-

    Martyn Reding: So yeah, we can do that and, we can do it like this, and we can do it like that, and we could do this, and it becomes this kind of escalation point. So the idea, the kind of little seed of creativity that was really great at the start suddenly turns into something, maybe completely different, but it starts from a great place, and it sounds like a small language change, but the difference can be huge. You go from, here’s a tiny idea that I’m nurturing, this kind of that I’m a bit embarrassed about, to suddenly it’s blown up into something terribly exciting that no one had thought of before.

    Paul Boag: That is probably the best single little take of what I’ve heard on this podcast for a long time. I love the idea of turning it round and saying yes but- yes-and. It almost reminds of run of those rules of improv comedy, isn’t it, where if somebody asks you a question you say yes to it because that takes the conversation on, rather than saying no to it which kind of closes down that avenue and you need to then start something new up.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah. Yeah, and it’s culture as well, it’s ingrained, and it comes from Branson, it comes from his, he has this sort of reputation, and this name of referring to himself, or people referring to him as Dr. Yes, cause he just loves to say yes to everything.

    Martyn Reding: And in the induction process when you join Virgin Atlantic, which is very involved. It takes days of kind of getting you into the company culture. At the end of it you kind of have these little sound bites and videos of Richard, and sometimes maybe he even shows up at the- and he likes to just sort of end the induction with, he just comes in and says “Yes. Now what was the question?”

    Martyn Reding: He just loves to say yes to everything, and I think it’s just sort of here and dripping off the walls. This idea of taking one thing and turning it into something else and then the next, and then the next, and the next.

    Paul Boag: See that brilliantly comes on to the kind of next thing I was gonna talk to you about which is, culture, and establishing the right culture within organization. It sounds like that induction process is a pretty good starting point, and that right from the very outset of joining the company that they’re establishing this entrepreneurial user centric culture. But, is there other things that you’ve seen from a cultural point of view that kind of stands out to you from a user experience point of view?

    Martyn Reding: No, I think-

    Paul Boag: The trouble is, you almost don’t notice it do you, it becomes business as usual as far as your concerned, I’m imagining.

    Martyn Reding: I think it will do. I think it will do. I’m very attuned to that and so as I arrived here, my first few days and weeks I was looking for those keywords, and those triggers. The induction process is all, and the way you are ingratiated into the company is all, it’s all part of the brand, and it’s all part of customer experience, and it’s all part of the amount of care and time and effort that we put into people.

    Martyn Reding: In terms of user experience, specifically, that’s kind of really my job, and my job is going to be very focused on, as I said, recruiting. I’m building the team, so, all CVs come to me please. But also, is then, is onboarding all of those people that come into the team and then bringing them up to speed with my ambitions and my direction I want to take the user experience in. So those kinds of things are gonna be wrapped around the set of user experience principals, which are all drawn down from the brand values.

    Martyn Reding: It will be around a set of metrics, which we have as a digital team. It will be a case of everyone who comes into my team, I will put them into as many scrub teams as possible before they settle, so they can sample all the different areas. It will be all of those things, and it will be taking people in the design function and having them spend time with product managers and analysts and content team. It will be as much mixing as possible, and as much sharing as possible.

    Martyn Reding: Because I don’t think any of the [inaudible 00:46:55] work has been done out in the open. And from a cultural perspective, that’s my biggest thing here, and in my last role as well, it’s one of the biggest things that I kind of kept as my– sort of means and drivers, because it’s very, it can be a very insular craft. It can be people at home headphones on, creating beautiful things, and it’s not always in our industries nature to be overt about what we’re doing.

    Martyn Reding: So, as an example we’ve launched projections shortly after I stated, which was, based around redesigning the digital help, and how we help people in a digital part of experience. Sort of breaking this notion of FAQs, which I hate, and turning it into something that’s actually valuable to customers.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: And, so I formed the team, and we, product managers, and designers, and researchers, and I sat them in the middle of the office. They didn’t come and sit at the desks, they sat in the middle, right in the center, where everyone works, and everything they produced at the end of each week, we put it on boards everywhere. Just everywhere. So, this sort of practice of churning designs out, post-it notes and research just became normal for people because they just saw it everyday, and it was, it’s tough for them. That team is sitting right where the kitchens were or the phone calls were. There’s a lot of foot falls there. It’s like kind of being in Piccadilly Circus for them. But, very important because it just became so much more visible and just getting it out there and putting things up in reception and throwing things on work places, the internet, and just telling everybody continually that’s, it sounds like its self promotion but it’s actually it’s deeper than that. It’s about culturally exposing what we’re doing and making-

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: The more you do that the more people feel comfortable about it and then the less those kinds of things run, people being threatened and worrying about the responsibility goes away cause they just see it happening and they become accustomed to it I think.

    Paul Boag: Yeah, couldn’t agree more. You talked in, you talked about setting metrics as part of the cultural change. Now, as somebody that’s within the commercial department, your traditional metrics would all be around sales, and conversion and those kinds of-

    Martyn Reding: Yes.

    Paul Boag: Things. How do you intend to start encouraging more user centric metrics? What kind of things do you think your’re gonna be measuring?

    Martyn Reding: We have customer satisfaction metrics. I mean, fire- native apps. There’s no shortage of people who are gonna go on there and give you a review of what they think about you or what happened. We have a lot of open channels like, live chat, which connects into our core sense switcher are in this building.

    Paul Boag: Right.

    Martyn Reding: Yes. We have these sort of various roots by which customers can get to us and give us that feedback and then roots by which we proactively will go to customers after a booking or after a flight and even during flights and just post check.

    Martyn Reding: But, I think the thing that’s very important for me and the thing that was a big draw to this role is that I’m the head of user experience and optimization. And, in other organizations they see, and in other organizations I’ve been in there’s a divider putting up and I find it really troubling between the people who are creating, designing, researching, and writing the experience, and this subset of people who are not connected to that who believe their role is to optimize that experience. Which in actual fact, mostly just seems to be kind of fairly black half dark, aggressive, kind of sales chasing, short term designs.

    Martyn Reding: I find that really troubling cause I think they’re the same thing.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Martyn Reding: I don’t think that they’re separate. I think having metrics that you feel are. I think a sales metric is a customer experience metric. I don’t think, I think people are intelligent enough to look at an experience and say, ‘this is horrible, I don’t feel good about it, I’m not going to buy this.’

    Martyn Reding: In the airline world, there is a lot of choice. They don’t have to fly with us, they- we don’t have monopolies over things, that they can go to someone else. They have chosen to come to us, and I think that is a user experience metric, and I think that the, not just the conversion rates, but the value to sale, as well, so how much they enhance or add on, or customize their flight, I think that an indication of how comfortable they are within interactions.

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Martyn Reding: I don’t think that’s the metrics of just being a pushy sales person. And then, of course, retention, I don’t think retention would happen if the experience wasn’t good. So I don’t necessarily like separating them up to be honest with you. And the user experience creation, design and management and optimization are intertwined and it’s very important to me that they’re intertwined and I think I would be, I’d think very differently about my role here, if I was just producing something into the world, and then another team took it and did stuff to it. That would be- I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that at all.

    Paul Boag: I guess that’s okay when you’re, that makes a lot of sense when you’re in an organization like Virgin Atlantic, but, there is the danger in some organizations I’ve encountered where because they’re so focused on conversions, or average order value, or some metric like that, the, you know, you end up resorting to dot [inaudible 00:53:03] and that kind of stuff in order to produce though. So you must, there must already be a culture within the organization that isn’t pre- hasn’t got a predisposition towards that kind of thing. Is that a fair comment?

    Martyn Reding: …..Yeah, I think it is a bit of, I don’t want to sound high and mighty about it but I think there is a moral line that runs through this, and if you’re willing to do anything whatsoever to get a sale, I don’t think any degree of great user experience is gonna help you out with that situation. And if you got execs- who are willing to not be open and forthright with their customer base, in order to make money- yeah- I agree with you in that respect. That’s just a bad place– to be.

    Paul Boag: Cause you can imagine, ya know, without mentioning any specific airline names-

    Martyn Reding: [crosstalk 00:54:05]

    Paul Boag: There are. No I won’t do that. There are airlines that for example will add insurance onto your flights without really asking permission for it, they just add it to the basket. Now, from my point of view that’s a terrible user experience because it’s highly manipulative. And, but, they do it because that’s their culture, ya know, specially at the kind of [inaudible 00:54:31] of the market. So, in that kind of situation they’re gonna need metrics, to shift that culture you’re gonna need metrics that are maybe, less around conversion rate, and average value, and more around, I don’t know, time to complete tasks, or costumer satisfaction.

    Paul Boag: There is a need to kind of balance the metrics if that makes sense.

    Martyn Reding: Yeah. And I think in time all of those organizations that fall into those patterns will ultimately kind of- you know- I’m optimistic-

    Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:55:14]

    Martyn Reding: They will pay the price.

    Martyn Reding: I think they’ll ultimately see that what they’re doing is short term, and they’ll continue to be chasing short term and at some point somebody will look at it and go, ‘do you know what the trend for us is just pointing downwards, what can we do to actually take some long tern effects.’

    Martyn Reding: Cause I don’t believe that users are stupid. I believe that even that, in that scenario that you described, that if you have tricked them into insurance, they’ll know that, they’ll work that out sometimes, and they won’t feel good about that. And next time they come back, if they come back at all, they’ll be wise to you, and they’ll be much more cynical in anything that you say or do with them. So-

    Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Martyn Reding: But don’t be mistaken in that Virgin Atlantic is not a commercially focused organization. Our commercial team is- considerably big and it’s very successful, so, there is a continual eye on turning the team into a much more optimization lead training focused team.

    Martyn Reding: So some of the roles that I’m bringing in are specifically around managing optimization and managing tests in-

    Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:56:27]

    Martyn Reding: – moving at a faster pace. So, I think they’re all connected, and I think they’re all intertwined, and I think that, it does help that we have a particularly custom eccentric culture here, but I think that’s still achievable in other organizations. I don’t want anyone listening to this, if anyone’s listening to me at this point still, to think that these things aren’t achievable in every organization, cause they are.

    Paul Boag: Yeah. Oh, no, I would agree, absolutely. You know you just need to adapt your approaches slightly depending on the organization that you’re in. I could go on forever, but I think we probably need to wrap up. But there is one last question, that everyone listening to this is currently desperate for me to ask.

    Martyn Reding: Hmm. Okay.

    Paul Boag: Which is, how do they apply for a job with your team, because it sounds freakin’ amazing, and I [crosstalk 00:57:18] Is there-

    Martyn Reding: Come on board.

    Paul Boag: So is there a link or is there an email address, or how do they find out more about your team?

    Martyn Reding: Oh, that’s a great question, I wish I prepared something for this. [crosstalk 00:57:35]

    Paul Boag: So I-

    Martyn Reding: Don’t worry about it. If you’re not prepared don’t worry about it because you can email me something and I’ll put it in the show notes, how bout that?

    Paul Boag: Yup. So you can look at the Virgin Atlantic career site and there’s constantly- over the course of 2018 I hope they’ll be lots of roles going up there. But you know the best thing to do, the best thing to do is find me on twitter and just let’s start talking, and send me some work, and I’m happy to hear from anyone. I’ve got lots of time to talk about user experience and design and I’ll go on for hours so- I’m on Medium, I’m on Twitter, you can find me on there and just reach out.

    Martyn Reding: So what is your Twitter ID just to point people in the right direction?

    Paul Boag: @martynreding Martin with a Y, reding, no a, and one d.

    Martyn Reding: So straight forward. I’ll put all of it in the show notes. It’ll all be there.

    Martyn Reding: Martyn, that was absolute brilliant, it was so good to have you on and to just talk about what’s going in Virgin Atlantic. I love your attitude towards building a user experience team and I’m looking forward to hearing about the exciting things you do going forward. Absolute brilliant. Thank you of your time.

    Paul Boag: Thank you very much, and if you find yourself down this way please drop in and say hello.

    Martyn Reding: Oh, absolutely.

    Paul Boag: Well there you go that was our interview with -Martyn.

    Marcus Lillington: I really enjoyed listening to that, it took me back Paul.

    Paul Boag: Oh did it?

    Marcus Lillington: Yes.

    Paul Boag: [crosstalk 00:59:17]

    Marcus Lillington: I used to be signed to Virgin records when I was back in the day.

    Paul Boag: Ah, but Virgin Records is not the same as Virgin Atlantic.

    Marcus Lillington: It’s run by the same bloke, or set up by the same guy. Anyway.

    Paul Boag: This is true.

    Marcus Lillington: Even back in those days Branson was all about looking after the people, A. that worked for him, B. that bought stuff from him. I can member’ we got, we were invited to a big sort of, huge extravaganza party at his Mansion in [inaudible 00:59:48] every year.

    Paul Boag: Alright.

    Marcus Lillington: One year they ran out of food, so he sent out to the Oxford Mcdonalds and got something like 2,000 burgers delivered. Things like that. It was just, yeah, great- so, you know, I think that having someone whose driving a company from the top with that kind of attitudes, means that you’re kind of already, you’re already in the right place.

    Paul Boag: Yeah. That was the thing that really struck me from talking to him- no disrespect for our Martyn, but he’s got it easy. You know? I’m sure he’d disagree with me strongly over that, but having someone at the top of the organization that’s giving that strong leadership and that strong, customer focus, makes such a difference doesn’t it?

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah, it’s almost like, I mean, alright, maybe digital first isn’t maybe something that you know, they talk about really properly, you know what I’m trying to say?

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Marcus Lillington: But just that focus on customers and doing the right thing and running your business in a way that you know, isn’t out to trick people and all that kind of thing. It just, It reminded me of what it was like back in the day.

    Marcus Lillington: [crosstalk 01:01:00] years ago.

    Paul Boag: Yeah.

    Marcus Lillington: There was one thing he did say though that I had to pick up on. That’ I’m not sure about, this idea about, you mentioned certain airlines that might trick in their quotes-

    Paul Boag: Yes.

    Marcus Lillington: Insurance and that kind of thing. I’m not sure that they do genuinely put people off, I think people know that that’s what’s happening, and it’s all about, I’ll put up with that if its cheap enough.

    Paul Boag: Yes.

    Marcus Lillington: It’s this kind of balance, kind of thing. So-

    Paul Boag: Actually, that’s a really interesting observation because I was doing some usability testing with somebody relatively recently and we were testing some competitor sites, and one of them was booking.com, which is well known for this kind of manipulative behavior. And the person I was testing with said, something along the lines or, I can’t remember the exact wording, but this, all of this manipulative stuff just gets on my wick something chronic.

    Paul Boag: And I said, well why do you still use the sight, because it was a site that they’d identified they used. And he said, oh, because it’s so easy to use.

    Paul Boag: So he was willing to put up with the crap because of the ease of use. It’s interesting isn’t it?

    Marcus Lillington: Yeah. It’s a bit like saying–the cheapest supermarket Aldi and [inaudible 01:02:18] and that kind of thing. They’re not out to trick you, there’s no frills.

    Paul Boag: No.

    Marcus Lillington: But several people will put up with the no frills if the price is right, kind of thing. It’s a balance kind of thing.

    Marcus Lillington: But finally, I swore blind that when you said, the most important question I need to ask you is, I thought you were gonna say, how to get an upgrade.

    Paul Boag: Yeah, I should of, that would have been a much better question. Damn.

    Marcus Lillington: Oh, well, it’s too late now isn’t it.

    Paul Boag: So, if you want to follow Martyn and the stuff that he’s doing you can do so at he said at twitter.com/MartynReding. I’d also encourage you to check out the, his Medium post about where he’s looking to recruit people. It’s a bit of a mammoth URL. So what we’ll do is we’ll put a link to the show notes to that instead, but it is definitely worth checking that out if you fancy a job in UX cause it seems like he’s a bitty bee in the minute.

    Marcus Lillington: I can’t think of many places that be nice to work than that.

    Paul Boag: No I can’t either.

    Marcus Lillington: It’s like wow.

    Paul Boag: Yeah. Absolutely. Anyway, so there we go that is a pretty much us done, except to mention our second sponsor, and I am so ch- [inaudible 01:03:38], It’s Balsamiq. They’re doing another season with us, right. They’re back and I’ve been doing so much work with these guys recently, it’s so much fun.

    Paul Boag: At the moment I’m working on them, with them, on a 5 hour master class on encouraging conversion in a way that isn’t manipulative going back to what we’ve just said.

    Paul Boag: That’s why I’m so busy at the moment Marcus. I’m writing that like mad. I think it’s the biggest, the most complicated thing I’ve ever done and Balsamiq is supporting me doing it and Oh I’m so excited!

    Paul Boag: But they’ll be more on that later or I’ll bore you endlessly about that in the future.

    Paul Boag: For now, let’s just talk about Balsamiq. In case you didn’t catch last season you really should check out Balsamiq cloud. It is by far, in my opinion, and that’s not just cause they’re supporting my master class, the fastest, easiest, and most collaborative method for [inaudible 01:04:38] right now. I honestly believe that.

    Paul Boag: Everything, if you know how to do drag and drop you can use this. It’s so, so straight forward. And that means anybody can use it. You can create a great experience, you can test and prototype a really good experience without having to get out some fancy design tool, which means your manager can do it, stake holders can do it, you can get users doing it.

    Paul Boag: It’s actually even easier than pen and paper because it is just drag and drop. It’s great for collaboration as well and also for designers if they want to collaborate in real time with maybe a stake holder or a customer. It’s so much more straight forward than some of the more kind of fancy prototyping tools out there. So it’s really good for quickly putting things together in the room with a client.

    Paul Boag: I would encourage you to give it a go basically. You can find out more by going to boag.world/Balsamiq and yeah, give it a try

    Marcus Lillington: Cool.

    Paul Boag: Okay, I think, other than your joke, we’re done. Let’s get the joke out of the way then I suppose.

    Paul Boag: I don’t suppose we can drop the joke because you do the thought for the day now?

    Marcus Lillington: It’s not up to me Paul. It’s up to the millions of listeners.

    Paul Boag: Go ahead.

    Marcus Lillington: Come on.

    Paul Boag: Spit it out.

    Marcus Lillington: This is from Sean Donns, I think that’s how you pronounce his name. On the [inaudible 01:06:09] channel, thank you, more jokes please people.

    Marcus Lillington: Why did Mr. Potato Head turn down a job offer at the sports network?

    Paul Boag: Go on.

    Marcus Lillington: Because he didn’t want to be a common-tater.

    Paul Boag: Oh. No. Oh that is proper dad joke, well done.

    Marcus Lillington: I did like that one.

    Paul Boag: Yeah, no, I liked that one as well. I approve.

    Paul Boag: Cool, alright well, that’s our fist episode done, no doubt it’s gonna be a mammoth one, but who cares, I suppose the people listening do, but we don’t and that’s the main thing.

    Paul Boag: Join us again next week, let’s se who’ve we got on next weeks show. Well we’ve got Andrew Miller, Apparently he’s not called Matt. Who is from the university of Dundee, and we’ll get to talk to him about creating user experience culture in a higher education institution. Could not be more different than Virgin Atlantic, but until next week thanks for listening.

    Thanks to chrisdorney from Shutterstock for allowing me to use this image.

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