Developed the game plan to 2X revenue

The Client

Sometimes, in order to expand your business's footprint and grow your revenue, you have to walk a mile in their shoes. Or, in the case of Coates Hire, drive a mile in a hired earth mover.

Coates is already Australia’s largest equipment solutions provider, but they place a healthy emphasis on making progress and exploring emerging possibilities, which is why they came to Proto to take their business to the next level.

Proto was tasked with helping Coates Hire understand how best to serve their clients, what solutions would add value for them and where the company could grow its offering.

In other words, we had to think like a Coates Hire customer – from initial research and planning to designing and prototyping digital solutions that would solve real problems for real people.

The challenge

The primary issue that was slowing Coates' expansion into new verticals was a disconnect between them and their customer's journey. From the customer's initial point of contact with Coates Hire, there were a number of touchpoints and interactions – both online and offline – that needed to be considered and addressed.

There was also a disconnect between the promises Coates were making and their ability to deliver on the brand promise. This was impacting negatively on customer satisfaction levels, as well as putting strain on the company's ability to determine how to solve it.

Coates customer journey map artefact

The solution

The key to this would be understanding the customers' pain points and needs, which is why Proto went out and spent some time with them on-site.

We talked to over 100 customers across a range of industries, from construction and mining to events and infrastructure. We asked them about their experiences with equipment hire, what they loved and what they didn’t.

This gave us some great insights that we could use to develop solutions that would make a real difference to Coates Hire's customers.

Smarter Value Propositions
for organisations that value
being smarter

The customer is always happy to tell you how you can be better. All you need to do is listen.

We took the learnings from our customer conversations along with 4-5 other research approaches and used them to develop a range of value propositions that we knew would resonate.

Some of these were around improving the customer experience, such as making it easier to find and book the equipment they need or providing more flexible delivery options. Others were about providing better value for money, such as cheaper rates for longer hires or bulk discounts.

For example, Coates' 'one-size-fits-all' approach, modelled around their largest revenue driver, the top-tier customer, was a major roadblock to their success.

While those top-tier customers were largely entirely satisfied with the service they received, like many other businesses, scaling the servicing costs and approach of a top-tier customer to smaller mid-tier and trade customers does not often work.

Photo during immersion session outside a Coates office Coates CX principles artefact

Good services are only as strong
as their weakest link

A single pain point can undo all the good work that a company does in other areas.

For Coates, even though people had good intentions, there was a misalignment of promise and delivery, which was leading to a loss of customer confidence.

While their brand promise was very strong and well received by their customers, there was often a disconnect between what they expected from Coates and what they actually received.

Solving this required a deep dive into the data, as well as qualitative research in the form of interviews and customer workshops.

What they discovered was that their customers valued three things above all else: communication, flexibility, and reliability.

Armed with this knowledge, Coates set out to realign their brand promise with their delivery, making sure that their customers would always know what to expect from them.

The results have been impressive, with customer satisfaction ratings rising and complaints falling.

Coates initiatives artefact

Understand today, grow tomorrow

By working hand in hand with both Coates and their customers, Proto was able to gain a deep understanding of the unique challenges and needs of the mid-tier and trade segments.

We used this insight to develop a customer-centric service proposition that would be tailored to meet the specific needs of these customers.

The result was a service that not only addressed the pain points of these customers but also delivered real value that helped them grow their businesses.

By emphasising open communications, flexibility, and reliability, Coates was able to build trust and establish itself as a true partner for its customers.

Looking to the future, Coates is well positioned to continue meeting the needs of its customers and driving growth in their mid-tier and trade segments.

Coates pyramid prioritisation artefact

Proto spots your customer's wants, needs and requirements;
They become the insights that deliver confidence

The critical factor in connecting Coates to their customers is understanding. And the key to understanding is empathy: feeling what they feel, seeing what they see and thinking what they think.

If you can put yourself in your customer's shoes, you'll be able to better serve them. You'll know what they need before they do. This connection allows you to build trust and create true value for them.

Empathy is at the heart of everything we do at Proto. We strive to understand our clients and their customers on a deep level so that we can help them grow their businesses.

If you're looking for a partner that can help you really get to know your customers and deliver real value, contact us today. We'd be happy to chat with you about your specific needs and how we can help.

Delivering phenomenal outcomes

“Working with Proto was a leap of faith, but they have become a major strategic partner in our CX evolution. The work they've developed and the way we've been able to embed it in the organisation has been absolutely phenomenal, and we're getting the outcomes we want.”

Felicity Clark
Felicity Clark Customer Experience Manager

Creating empathy to deliver outstanding results

“Proto were a pleasure to work with. They were adaptive and responsive, and developed a deep empathy for both the client and their customers. The quality of their products and services was outstanding.”

Michael Storey
Michael Storey Manager of Customer Research and Strategy at Sydney Water

Halving your customer churn

“Without the customer experience insights from the research program, we would not have been able to identify the acquisition issues that we had. Changes to the customer interactions that led up to financial protection have reduced the outflow rates by 50%.”

Felicity Rowcliff Dean
Felicity Rowcliff Dean Customer Centred Design Manager

Take your NPS score to the next level

“From an NPS perspective, I have gone Spinal Tap on you guys and gone to 11. I still think the work you did with us, the way you went about it and the deliverables amounted to one of the best pieces of consulting advice I've ever commissioned.”

Matthew Liebmann
Matthew Liebmann Former Chief Operating Officer

Enabling customer-centric design

“Over the last 18 months, we've constantly referred to the work Proto did for us when designing and developing all the improvements to the app we're making. We've found their work to be highly valuable and has resulted in significant improvements to the MyOptus App that, without their insight wouldn't have been possible.”

Lucy Turner
Lucy Turner CX Design Launch Manager

Exceptional prototyping

“The outcome of the prototyping has been exceptional and we continue to use the knowledge and expertise that Proto shared with us during their engagement. The icing on the cake for me was that Proto captured all of the insights from the customer workshops into an organisational asset that we now use as an integral part of our toolkit for training and briefing new team members.”

Sharon Nanetti
Sharon Nanetti Optimal Care Program Director

Prioritising what matters

“Proto's in-depth customer research helped us to uncover underlying customer needs that wouldn't have been possible without an 'outside-in' approach. The team identified the core customer problems and provided actionable insights that enabled us to remove key areas of customer friction and frustration and redesign a credit card experience like no other.”

Christian Johansson
Christian Johansson Head of Marketing, Customer Finance

Achieving a 20 point increase in NPS

“I have worked with Damian and the team at Proto for several years. In this time, they have worked collaboratively with us to build a roadmap of strategic 'outside-in' initiatives that ultimately resulted in a 20 point increase in NPS. They imparted a great deal of CX knowledge, approaches and tools that have been invaluable to the team and the business.”

Amanda O'Donnell
Amanda O'Donnell Head of Customer Experience

Insight driven, customer centric ideas

“Proto revealed and captured a ton of insights, putting Gumtree in a position where we can take our experience from good to great!”

Coen Horrevoets
Coen Horrevoets Head of Product

Award-winning customer experiences

“We won the AFR Smart Investor SMILES award for Best Online Broker. This award is based on customer voting and I believe this was as a result of a clearer focus on our existing clients which you helped us to understand.”

Arni Selvarajah
Arnie Selvarajah Chief Executive Officer

Design that reduces cost to serve

“The Proto team demonstrated flexibility in their approach which made such a refreshing change. They took the time to coach and mentor each of us in a highly creative and energetic environment. Furthernore, they helped us exceed our customer satisfaction targets, all whilst stripping out in excess of 20% of our service costs in under 12 months. Proto helped us to stay focussed on the customer which enabled us to win in the market.”

Matthew Anderson
Matthew Anderson Chief Operating Officer

Service innovation at scale

“We worked with Proto on an exciting & unprecedented challenge at Optus, to design the customer experience of the future. Damian & the team had high energy & together we operated as 'one team'. Proto worked hand in hand with us to bring the internal team up to speed, & also brought in global experts to work with us to take our deliverables to another level of quality & innovation.”

Dan Sunderland
Dan Sunderland Director of Customer Experience Strategy and Planning

Actionable Customer Strategies

“Proto developed a membership strategy that addressed points of friction along our members journey, identified opportunities to improve and clarified the types of engagement that our members needed at the different stages in their career. We were impressed with the depth of insight that Proto were able to bring to the project - as well as the energy and ideas that they helped to generate.”

Sarah Thompson
Sarah Prescott-Thompson General Manager Shared Services

A partnership for CX

“Working with Proto was very much a partnership. We worked hand-in-hand to put CX on the map within the organisation. The team are flexible, trustworthy and do what it takes to achieve the best outcome. If you’re looking for a quality agency, providing quality data and insights – Proto are your guys. We received over 90 initiatives from the project of which 79% have now been implemented and we are seeing the benefits flow through!”

Customer Experience Specialist

Unique Product Innovation

“Proto integrated into multiple simultaneous projects to ensure we achieved the best outcome. They brought real clarity around customer needs, the fundamental elements of our value proposition and provided a clear roadmap of where we're trying to get to. This allowed us to differentiate beyond the traditional proposition. As a result, one customer-informed initiative we developed was loanScore™. This unique innovation helps customers see how good their home loan is and evaluate their options for a better deal.”

Anthony Justice
Anthony Jusitce CEO