We helped fuse decades of organisational studies with latest AI advances into a customer-focused product
Saberr makes tools that support great teamwork. They noticed that while teamwork is essential in so many workplaces, it's rare that teams focus on the fundamentals of what it takes to work well together. Could a digital coaching tool help?
To explore this idea, they needed a partner. An expert in user-centered design, who would challenge their thinking, and take them from idea to product.
World’s first digital team coach
Together with Saberr, we built CoachBot. It combines efficiency with empathy by helping teams have better conversations and solve problems quicker.
From post-its to pilot, pronto
We took a lean approach: we collaborated with the team at Saberr to come up with several propositions and test them with actual users in the market early on. That meant we could iterate the concept and launch quickly with a feasible product.
+400 pilot users across 13 companies
Saberr is currently piloting CoachBot with teams across 13 organisations and learning what makes teams more efficient and happier. Coachbot is on the trajectory to be scaled to to tens of thousands of employees across the globe.
We workshopped, interviewed and researched all things teamwork and team performance. We talked to professional coaches, and new and experienced managers across a whole range of organisations.
We learnt that:
- Knowing the theory doesn’t magically fix things
- New and experienced managers face exactly the same challenges – new managers just feel the pain more
- Managers aren’t the ones best placed to tackle team problems: teams are
These insights made the next step clear: talk to teams. Let them define what they need.
We ran four experiment sprints with Saberr, each designed to be simple, fast, and produce results in just two weeks.
In our tests, we explored:
How best to diagnose a problem in your team (e.g. does applying a certain storytelling technique affect how well that goes?)
How interested teams would actually be in a tool like this (e.g. with different home page mockups)
How effective self-coaching is for teams
We tested every idea on potential customers, gaining new understanding, then feeding that back into our thinking.
Teams want a lot from a digital coach, as it turns out. What could we realistically give them?
Starting with a pre-defined vision can mean your testing gets skewed, because you’re doing it with a specific end-goal in mind. A goal that may not fit the actual need.
Instead, we began by experimenting. Testing different ideas to learn about the problem.
Next, we ran what we call a moonshot session. We gathered the whole Saberr team, and said: forget what’s actually possible, and imagine you could have anything. What kind of product would you create?
We guided the discussions. Whipped up healthy debate. And together we pinned down a Big Idea (well, Big Ideal): an entirely AI coach, with built-in empathy and a customisable personality.
We discovered AI isn’t quite advanced enough yet to deal with complex interactions and emotions on its own – not in the ways we wanted it to, anyway. Which is what our teamwork tool would have to deal with every day.
And sure, a conversational interface can make interactions nicer, but it can be frustrating if it’s unclear who you’re talking to: bot or person.
• Context we’d got from the theory
• Understanding we’d got from the interviews
• Insights we’d got from the experiments
• The focus we’d got from moon-shooting
We brought our moonshot vision down to earth.
Together, we created the world’s first digital team coach that combines efficiency and empathy: CoachBot.
Containing toolkits and content created by professional coaches, to help teams diagnose and resolve their issues.
Delivered in a friendly chat interface that guides you through every step, combining basic natural language processing with real human support – making the line between each super-clear.
This was our MVP that we’d got to super-fast, ready to launch, test, and improve in the real world.
Alistair Shepherd, Founder of Saberr
As well as giving it to their own teams, Saberr invited customers – including Logitech, Unilever and NHS – to try CoachBot, too, using their feedback to improve and develop it.
It’s early days, but it looks like CoachBot teams are getting better customer and business outcomes than those who aren’t using it. We can’t wait to see and analyse the data in full (watch this space).
We know Saberr is excited to see the difference the tool makes for companies. We certainly are.
As working environments evolve, tools like CoachBot will be essential to help teams perform at their full potential.
In four experiment sprints, we tested, focused and evolved a could-be-anything idea into a useful, tangible tool which could then be turned into a feasible product. Saberr then used the pilot phase to improve and iterate CoachBot before public launch.
CoachBot was rolled out to 13 international organisations in tech, healthcare, consumer products, financial services, and employee engagement and development. Saberr is comparing data from the teams using CoachBot to solve problems and the ones without access to the tool.
As working environments evolve, CoachBot and other similar tools will be essential to help teams perform at their full potential. Digital transformation isn't about tech: it's about people and enabling them to communicate better, solve problems faster and reach their goals quicker.