Why we love PostNL

PostNL is a massive Dutch postal company. And they’re not afraid to get off the beaten track to deliver what people need. We love working in an environment like this.

The challenge

Our work for PostNL started off by doing basic UX tests to optimize their digital products. That was about 10 years ago. Gradually, the challenge evolved from focus on single tests to organizing research throughout the entire organization — how can we put customers at the heart of everything that PostNL does?

The solution

We help PostNL grow more UX mature by constantly linking up with their teams. Many of them already do an amazing job putting the customer at the core. But some teams never really thought about customer centricity. We help them discover what they need to flip this and provide just that: Sometimes full-on research. And sometimes just some reviews or training. Besides helping teams grow UX mature individually, we make sure knowledge and insights are always shared between them.


UX tests
Concept tests
Group interviews
In-depth interviews
Customer journey mapping
Expert reviews
Online strategy

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Different teams, different approaches

In large organizations we often see teams have different levels of UX maturity — the extent to which they put customers first. This means there is no one size fits all approach to help the entire organization move forward.

To illustrate this: our work for PostNL comes in many shapes and forms because we work for several teams. We do usability tests to validate interfaces, but also contribute to refining the online strategy. For some teams we are a UX sparring partner for a few hours per week. For others we do large studies with customers to discover their goals, needs, and frustrations. We enrich customer journeys. We collect and centralize insights. And sometimes the PostNL team does the research and we just take care of participant recruitment.

Valsplat is our trusted partner in our quest to become more customer centric. They always start with the customer in mind and bring in the needed research expertise to help us grow.”

Rob Paauw, head of CX and Innovation Studio

So, our work depends on the specific needs of teams. That doesn’t mean the work we do for one team isn’t insightful for the other. On the contrary: one of the most important aspects of putting customers at the heart of large organizations, is sharing insights and ways of working.

How we help PostNL teams grow together

We help PostNL teams share insights and build on each other’s work in many ways. Let’s highlight a few to give you a sense of what this looks like:

#1 Collect all insights in one place
PostNL does a lot of UX research. Which means they have tons of customer insights. We developed a tool — called Sticktail — to make sure all the insights are collected and shared in the same place. PostNL teams have been adding insights to the platform and use it as a starting point when they work out new ideas: Let’s first check Sticktail to see what we already know about topic x” — that’s the spirit.

Oh, little side note: Sticktail is looking for a new full stack developer and tech lead.

#2 Use templates and a uniform way of working
We’ve introduced a basic outline for user tests, including templates and ways of working. These are accessible for everybody at PostNL. So whenever teams do research by themselves, they do it in a uniform and qualitative way.

#3 Share insights pro-actively
This one is very hands-on. We don’t just add insights to Sticktail for others to find it; we share it proactively. Whenever we think certain insights are relevant for other teams, we go out and tell them.

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How we help PostNL carry the UX torch’

Helping our customers grow UX mature means we sideline ourselves eventually. And that’s fine with us. The sooner PostNL can work user centered without us, the better.

A nice example of how we try to pass the UX torch’ to PostNL is the composition of the research team: when we do research, we always team up with somebody from PostNL. We do this for a bunch of reasons. Again, let’s highlight three:

  1. Being part of the research team makes PostNL more committed. It helps bring insights to life within the organization. Why? It’s simply more likely that people do something with insight if they collected it themselves. 

  2. Doing research together allows us to coach PostNL researchers and designers on the job and grow their UX skills. Eventually, better skills stimulate teams to go out and collect insights more often — a boost for customer centricity. 

  3. Through PostNL researchers and designers it’s easier to involve the right stakeholders during the project. If we go on a solo ride as an external party, this is a little harder. In other words: teaming up helps to make more impact.
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Tip: check how UX mature you are

Growing more UX mature is a step by step process. It takes time and commitment. Wondering where you can start? You should take a look at our UX maturity scale (it’s free) — a helpful tool to discover how human centered your organization is and what you can do to make it better.

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So, in a nutshell: besides patience, as a large organization, you need to embrace the different levels of UX maturity throughout your teams. Take a careful look at every team, understand what they need, and help them grow from there. At the same time, set up an infrastructure to have teams share knowledge and build on each other’s work.

Just like PostNL does it.

  • Anne van der Veen
  • Lotte Horn
  • Nils van den Broek
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