Time to market
With our support, regional telecommunications provider wilhelm.tel digitized the management of its product portfolio, regional product availabilities and the associated application and ordering processes. The goal of the project was to centralize data and services in order to provide customers with address-specific availability information and enable digital order lines based on a corresponding centralized service.
Digitization of availability information, the product portfolio and the ordering process
Service-oriented architecture and realization of a data- and process-driven service landscape according to an API-first concept for the administration of address data, product information as well as process processing of application lines; integration of services in wilhelm-tel.de
consulting, conception, architecture, API design, backend development, UX design, UI design, frontend development, operation
Propeller web application framework, PostgreSQL, RESTful JSON, Typo3, Fluid, Newman, GitLab CI/CD, Markdom
The products of wilhelm.tel are, apart from mobile offers, only available at selected addresses in Hamburg, Norderstedt and the surrounding area. The telephony & Internet product range is divided into regions with different bandwidth options, physical connections and conditions.
Whether wilhelm.tel products are available at a specific address could already be found out via the website, but without any further features or entry into a more advanced user process. A solution was to be developed that offered concrete information on products that could be ordered at the desired address and led to a suitable application document in the first step. In the second step, customers should be enabled to order products in a digital application path. To complete the ordering process, a connection to the CRM should be enabled to automate customer creation and order entry as much as possible.
At the start of the project, there was a database integrated into the website's editorial system with more than one million address data points, of which only 73,000 were qualified to book a wilhelm.tel product. Due to region-specific differences in product options, connection technologies and conditions, deficits were identified in the address database.
Since, in the future, various websites and portals will access data and participate in processes, a corresponding architecture concept was developed that combines various central services into a modular overall solution. The deficient datasets were extended to include the attributes needed to map the services. All services were designed as self-contained systems. In each case, a concrete user requirement or a concrete process is the subject of a service. The modularity gained in this way allowed us to work on the various aspects of the solution in parallel and to meet the different requirements. Thus, a high-performance service for availability queries was implemented, as well as an address and region service, a product management service, and the ordering service.
To make the services accessible, a central user and rights management system was integrated and a backend based on microfrontends was implemented, allowing internal users administrative and informal access. Furthermore, an interface for automated processing of address data was implemented. In order to be able to connect external clients such as websites and portals, each service exposes a RESTful API that makes the respective data and process points available.
In the first step, the discoverability of application documents was significantly improved, resulting in a significant increase in incoming orders. The technical and content quality of incoming applications was also increased to such an extent that the effort required to process applications was significantly reduced. The digitization of the order processes and the automated transfer to the CRM in the second step once again significantly increased the quantity and quality of orders.
Daniel Jeßen Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, wilhelm.tel GmbH
In cooperation with Chroma Experience, we were able to develop a completely customized e-commerce solution in a short period of time. Not only was this solution able to represent the special challenges of our product portfolio, but it also proved to be a noticeable improvement in the ordering process shortly after its introduction.
In the telecommunications industry, regionally operating companies that attach great importance to quality and service are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with established groups that dominate the market with attractive terms and conditions and nationwide availability. At the same time, customers in this highly competitive business segment are becoming more demanding in terms of performance and convenience. It is therefore particularly important that product information is easily accessible and that the ordering process is straightforward.
With the aim of realizing the sale of products digitally, we were commissioned at the end of 2019 with the conceptual and technical further development of wilhelm.tel's online offering.
In spring 2020, the first expansion stage of the digitization of the offering began. The address database integrated into the editorial system for querying product availability was not only to be updated, but also automated and enriched with additional information.
Conditions for products, available bandwidths and physical connections (fiber optics, cable network, telephone network) vary by region and are directly dependent on the connection address.
Since the address data permanently integrated into the editorial system at that time could not be used by other planned services and could not have been expanded to include the required data, this implementation was replaced by a new initial service and extracted from the website context. Based on the resulting address and availability service, a new address query integration was added to the website. To ensure a contemporary user experience, address entry was implemented based on input autocompletion. Therefore, great emphasis was placed on performance when designing and implementing the service. Under average conditions, completion requests can be answered in well under 30 milliseconds - including roundtrip time.
The central administration of availability addresses is based on an in-house development by wilhelm.tel. Since new regions are regularly developed as connection areas, a common exchange format was designed for the purpose of automation and a regular cycle for processing address information was defined. For receiving and processing, we developed our own microservice as part of the address service, which validates the incoming data, enriches it with geodata and references the corresponding regions.
Kai Scholtysik Product Owner E-Commerce, wilhelm.tel GmbH
In order to map our extensive product portfolio – including regional availability – in a digital ordering process, we need not only a resilient data model, but above all an individual and flexible solution that can withstand dynamic corporate processes.
A major disadvantage of the availability query available until then was that the results did not immediately lead to a suitable application document. Thus, every potential customer who suspected that a product from wilhelm.tel would be available at his address had to painstakingly gather the relevant information and documents.
In a workshop, we were able to identify and specifically optimize these processes with the help of User Journey. In future, visitors will be guided to the order document via the availability check and the individual product selection and configuration. The associated portfolio of telephony and Internet products was stored in the existing CMS in the form of individual product cards and referenced via corresponding primary keys.
This intermediate project result was defined as a "Quick Win". Thus, in project phase 1, after querying an address, not only a positive or negative result could be shown, but also the listing of the products available at this address could be displayed, which, after selection, outputs the associated application document and a brief instruction.
The newly integrated availability query was initially only displayed to 50% of the page visitors. This was done to evaluate whether the new feature leads to more deals. The first meaningful and unambiguous results were available after just one month, so that this new successful solution was made available to all users as standard from then on.
Kai Scholtysik Product Owner E-Commerce, wilhelm.tel GmbH
In an intensive collaboration, we were able to develop our own solution together with Chroma Experience in a short period of time, which could be implemented on a web and API basis with almost no friction and connected to our internal systems.
Phase 2 of the project was to follow on seamlessly from the first. In the future, a selection and configuration of a desired product was to be made possible on an address-specific basis and requested in a digital order line.
The following stakeholders needed to be taken into account:
Our challenge was to take into account the respective requirements and framework conditions and to translate these into a user-centric operating concept. At the same time, a functional and technical concept had to be created that took into account the respective internal needs and resulted in a consistent architecture.
The bundled know-how about addresses, regions, availability, conditions, products and their features was to be distributed in its entirety via a service-oriented architecture that maps all aspects from the inquiry to the order. All services were to be designed and implemented according to the API-first paradigm in order to ensure comprehensive integration capability in other projects.
The knowledge of product and region characteristics gained in project phase 1 now had to be meticulously compared with all technical and legal requirements in order to be transferred into a digital order route.
The application route to be developed from this had to fulfill two primary objectives:
Consideration of the requirements of the distance selling contract
Restructuring for intuitive operation
Despite the large amount of information required to order a telecommunications product, it was important for us to offer the user only the options necessary in each case and to supplement these with optional details as required in order to make the ordering process as simple as possible.
The information required to place an order requires a comprehensive examination of forms. We started from the existing PDF-based forms and transferred their content into web-based input scenarios. In this way, we were able to ensure technical accuracy.
Since filling out forms on a mobile device or a stationary computer has significant differences to filling them out by hand on paper, we extracted the input fields in their entirety in the first step. In an intuitive form to the user, the fields were restructured and sorted. In doing so, we created a semantic-thematic separation and integrated learned usage scenarios.
The wireframes of the application route created as part of the UX design results were evaluated and validated in terms of legal compliance, data protection compliance and user acceptance. These results could now serve us as a specification for the creation of the interface design.
The interface design process spanned three separate project phases. In the first phase, existing interaction elements were reused in order to quickly map the "quick win" defined in the first stage of development.
In order to integrate the new UX concept into the existing website, missing UI components were added in the second phase.
The third phase focused on the visual overhaul of the entire interface. The goal was now to transfer the UX findings from the first two phases into a design that reflects the visual requirements of future customers and also takes all e-commerce aspects into account.
Throughout the project phases, all functional and process-related components of the solution were successively extracted from the wilhelm-tel.de editorial system and transferred to the service architecture. Finally, a functional and technical separation was achieved based on the functionality, which allows all system components to be used according to their original purpose.
The most complex integration scenario is the application process. Once all the information on the address and the desired product has been defined, a dynamic, multi-step form process is called up that takes all the option combinations into account. The selection of additional services, some of which are subject to a charge, is transferred to a total cost overview in real time. To complete the order, all the data collected in the process is transferred to the order service, which triggers a new process for processing the application in contract management.
The main beneficiaries of these extensive measures are future customers. For a maximum user experience, the cumbersome product ordering processes were optimized, significantly reducing the number of jumps in the ordering process.
The management of contracts now functions more efficiently, securely, with better performance, and thus with lower costs than the analog processes established in the past. Since products and their features are administered at a central point, adjustments to options and conditions can be made quickly from a single source. This means that individual product configurations can now be realized in an uncomplicated manner.
The connection to external websites and portals has made future-proof sales development possible.