The Power of Simple: a UX case study of how we made joining Cuckoo simple

Tommy Toner

Tommy Toner | VP of Product & Co-Founder

As the new kid on the block, we have a lot to prove. Broadband can be complex, intimidating and often painful.

It’s 3 months since we published our brand story. Since then, we’ve been busy launching the website, switched over our first customers, built the billing engine and gave one lucky person free broadband for a year.

This is a case study of how we made joining Cuckoo simple.

But first, our Manifesto

A reminder of what we stand for and why we’re all here.

Broadband is broken. Terrible service, complex deals, sky-rocketing prices — it’s a long list. And to top it all off, we’re forced to haggle for a new deal every year or risk paying extra. Which is why we’re doing it differently. And finally putting customers first. Not just by giving them amazing service, but by making broadband simple. With one great speed, at one low price, on a one-month rolling contract. So customers never have to switch again, because they’ll always be on the best deal. Even better, 1% of each bill helps us spread the awesome power of the internet to where it’s needed most, like conflict zones, natural disaster sites and developing communities.

We’re called Cuckoo.

And we’re making broadband simple. For good.

Team of 5 starting team

The way customers interact with brands is changing

Traditionally, you’d have very little engagement with utility providers — unless something goes wrong. This is changing. People expect more.

More expensive than my current provider says I can save £132 a year....someone hasn't done there math's at Cuckoo 29.99 a month plus the one of charge of £60 means the first year your paying 34.99 a month just for the internet

For example, we received a 1-star review because someone felt our copy was misleading. So although we were confident that what we said was correct, we took the feedback on board. How could we be even more transparent; even more distinctive versus our competitors? Within 30 minutes, we’d updated the messaging on our site.

Save £132 a year in just 2 minutes
£29.99 month 1 month rolling

Understanding our customers

On average a customer switches provider every 6 years ( Ofcom ). People’s motives for switching vary. When we asked customers, 39% said they were disappointed being tied into a long contract, 38% said their prices were increased, 30% said poor customer service and 17% had no affection for the brand.

Tweet by Charles Kerr
Typeform entry from someone helping with Cuckoo features

Long contracts. Hidden price rises. Terrible customer service. Things you won’t find at Cuckoo. Throughout all our customer touchpoints we aim to understand behaviours, triggers, pain points, and motivations. As you read on, you’ll see these insights influence all the design decisions.

Simple. Experience principle 1
Honest. Experience principle 2.
Frictionless. Experience principle 3.

Our Experience Principles

C uckoo’s brand promise — centred around the idea of making broadband simple, for good — is the backbone of the brand, including the customer experience. For us, brand and UX are two sides of the same coin.

We created Cuckoo because we knew we could do broadband better. Our experience principles set out to do just that, so users feel chuffed to be part of our flock, every time they engage with us.

Design boards for the initial Cuckoo sign-up journey
Sticky notes where people contributed design and feature ideas
Day 0. The join journey.
Day 0. Go live! The switch process.

The Cuckoo join journey — a deep dive.

It takes twice as many clicks to switch broadband with the big guys than it does with Cuckoo. We audited all the key info we needed to capture from customers in order to switch them, then broke them down into a few simple steps. When it comes to online transactions, forms are king . Applying usability best practice, reducing any friction points, providing clear signposting and removing any distractions makes completing their goal of switching easier.

Message from customer about calls package
Message from customers about upload speed

Improvise, adapt & overcome

We’ve iterated on our product messaging on the homepage 25–30 times over the last 90 days. That’s roughly every 3 days. From looking at the analytics to listening to what people say to us, we use a ‘Test’, ‘Learn’ and ‘Iterate’ model to improve our service.

Test, then learn, then iterate.

In June we launched our first paid social ads across Instagram & Facebook — giving us direct access to customers and hearing what they have to say. And they have a lot to say . Most of our recent new features or front-end optimisations have been inspired (or suggested) by people on our community or via social media. In the words of Bear Grylls; Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Initial Cuckoo line checker

Clear next step signposting

At all times, we aim to reduce the cognitive load of customers. By giving them clear signposting and only providing relevant content. Customers should have no doubt what their next action is in order to progress to signup.

Step 1 of the sign up flow
Amazons landing page

Keep the user focused on the task

At this point we remove any distractions so the user can focus their attention on switching; any additional content is removed and the global nav bar is no longer displayed. It’s like the opposite of Amazon; rather than wanting you to add more things to the shopping basket, we just want to get you through the funnel as frictionless as possible.

Number of clicks to signup to broadband. Cuckoo 4. Virgin Media 11. Sky 11. Plusnet 12. TalkTalk 13. BT 14.

The Cuckoo 3 step sign-up flow

Switching provider is daunting. This is only made more intimidating with long, complex forms. Our competitors are presenting customers with up to 7-step forms in order to switch to them. Our primary aim was to reduce this number to 3 simple steps, whilst still capturing all the essential information we need to switch someone.

Summary information from signing up to Cuckoo.

Make it specific to the user

When a customer enters their address, we give them a specific estimate of the speed they would be getting with us (rather than the average of our customer base).

download speed range estimate

We’re transparent about our speeds and our prices . We go one step further and humanise what that speed actually means to them; for example, 60Mb/s is perfect for Netflix, gaming, downloading, and streaming HD TV on multiple devices. We avoid ambiguity at all times.

Creating a cuckoo account
Naming your cuckoo router

Give control back to the user

With Cuckoo, you can set your Wi-Fi name and password when you sign-up. Say goodbye to random, forgettable codes. Creativity encouraged. Do you know of another provider that does this? — none we know of yet.

Selecting cuckoo compass charity
Giving something back at Waitrose

Setting your Cuckoo Compass

We take 1% of each bill and use it to help get the internet to places it’s needed most, like conflict zones, natural disaster sites and developing communities. And then we ask during the signup, which project you would like to support. Do good, simply by being on our network.

Cuckoo order summary
Deliveroos order summary

Helpful content

At key decision points in the journey, we recap what the customer is signing up for, so there are no surprises later on. We ask for as little input as possible to ensure a somewhat mundane task feels effortless to complete. We do as much of the heavy-lifting as possible so our customers are left with a feather-light load. But we also make sure nothing sounds too scary or challenging.

Sign up in 2 minutes. Router despatched. Your switch is going great. You go-live-tomorrow. Go-live today.

The Switch Process

It takes roughly 10–14 days to switch someone over to our network. We’d love to speed this up but it’s defined by Openreach and Ofcom. We looked at all the moments during that period and defined when people would need the most reassurance that their switch is going well and to give them timely information to assist their onboarding.

Success you're all set!
My account sign-up timeline
email. your router is on its way.
email. your switch is going great
email. just checking in

Constant communication is key

Once a customer has signed up they gain access to their Cuckoo account. (I will write about My Account in a future update.) This is where the self-help tools we’re building will live, where you will be able to view your referral info and of course update all your personal information (you can do that already, actually).

cuckoo account overview.

Let people know what’s going on

We use the bright yellow Cuckoo message bar to deliver key messages to people. At the moment, it’s letting users know they’re one of the first on our network and that some things aren’t perfect yet. At least we’re honest :) If you’d like to be one of the first too, then head to our site and sign up.

your engineer will be with you soon

Making switch day special

You don’t have many physical interactions with your broadband provider. Perhaps the odd engineer visit when you switch provider. If an Openreach engineer is needed they’ll send you a text to let you know.

Cuckoo router box design with, cuckoo logo on.

So the one moment, when you first receive the router — we wanted to make it exciting. Here’s a sneak peek at the top-secret new packaging design. Shh, don’t tell anyone .

Cuckoo router box
Cuckoo router box
Cuckoo router box
Router instruction manual design

Setting up the router

We did an audit of some of the competitors box-opening-experiences. To be fair, some of them have clearly invested in slick packaging (hoping one day Alex will let me splash some serious Cuckoo dollar on shiny boxes that explode with glitter on opening…) but the reality was, the setup instructions were still incredibly difficult to decipher. Not-so-quick-start guides, confusing messaging and baffling acronyms. We decided to create a 3-step guide that’s just as straight forward as our box. Simple.

Password: Tell My Wifi Love Her

Getting online / viewing your Wi-Fi details

Once you’ve plugged in your router and the light goes green, you’re all set to go. Now you just need to enter the Wi-Fi details you gave us at signup and voila.

If you’ve forgotten your details, simply check your welcome email or just login to anytime.

So that’s our Join Journey and Switch process.

Next up for you: We’ve now removed our early access list and opened the doors to all. So what are you waiting for? Switch broadband, for good.

How fast can you go?