The Scottish safari of customer journeys

Edinburgh Zoo

The need

Edinburgh Zoo is a non-profit zoological park of 82 acres set in Scotland’s capital. The park was built over 100 years ago in 1913 and welcomes more than 600,000 visitors each year, making it Scotland’s second most popular paid-for tourist attraction (after Edinburgh Castle).

The Edinburgh Zoo team came to Nile because they wanted to redesign their online ticketing journey, hoping to better understand and improve the customer experience. Our expertise in using service design to achieve digital goals made us the perfect partners for the job.

“We recognised that people are booking on the way to an attraction or when they’re waiting in the lobby. Customers used to book days in advance, so this represented an important change for us as an organisation,” says Jon-Paul Orsi, Digital Manager at Edinburgh Zoo. “We were very conscious that we could drastically improve the user experience and, in the process, increase conversion.”

As a charity, Edinburgh Zoo also wanted to improve their efforts and conversion to donations and gift aid on top of ticket sales. “We wondered how we could present those asks in an engaging way, rather than just using a redundant checkbox,” Orsi explains.

How we responded

When the Edinburgh Zoo team approached us, they already had a detailed plan and a list of specific points they wanted to focus on. These included creating a mobile-first, simple and user-friendly customer journey, increasing sales including donations and gift aid, and recycling traffic at the end of the journey (through social media, newsletters and the mobile app, for example). Our role was to perform a UX review and feedback on the team’s plans and ideas so far.

To do this, we conducted a thorough contextual review to understand how the zoo’s website and app could enhance the customer experience before, during and after their visit. We found that most visitors were unaware of the mobile app and that, overall, online and offline experiences felt very disconnected from each other.

Our review also found that the end-to-end customer experience was as passive as window shopping, that even if people booked online in advance they’d still be forced to queue when they arrived, and that guidance to help customers move around the site was lacking. In other words, there was a lot of potential waiting to be unlocked.

The results

Nile moved beyond the zoo’s original brief and provided recommendations that reflected the full digital landscape, exceeding the initial expectation of UX input alone. The Edinburgh Zoo team was delighted with the outcome.

“One of the things we liked most about Nile is that they weren’t afraid to tell us that some of our ideas probably wouldn’t work or it wasn’t a good idea to pursue them,” Orsi says. “We didn’t want someone who came along and just said yes. They challenged some of our ideas and regularly came up with creative suggestions of their own.”

He adds: “In terms of a partner, Nile was reliable and invested in the project – we felt like we had their full attention, they came with ideas and they really worked to understand what we needed.”

“One of the things we liked most about Nile is that they weren’t afraid to tell us that some of our ideas probably wouldn’t work or it wasn’t a good idea to pursue them,” Orsi says. “We didn’t want someone who came along and just said yes. They challenged some of our ideas and regularly came up with creative suggestions of their own.”

He adds: “In terms of a partner, Nile was reliable and invested in the project – we felt like we had their full attention, they came with ideas and they really worked to understand what we needed.”

Photo credit: Title photo by Nigel Swales

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