Building Love Notes

At the British Heart Foundation we have an annual fundraising campaign called Love Notes. People visit our shops, pay £1, and write a message on a red paper heart that is then put in the shop window. This year we want to build a digital version. It would need a means of collecting the message, taking payment, having the message approved, and then making the message publicly available and shareable. 

My first thoughts about how to do included using a messenger bot, but the payment would be an issue. We could have also built a separate microsite but that might prove too expensive for a speculative venture like this. So, for cost effectiveness,  speed of build and ease of management, I decided to look at using Magento, the platform our Online is built on. Using our Online Shop would mean we already have the platform, infrastructure, payment gateway, etc. working for us to use for Love Notes. 

I did a quick user journey map of how it could work. 

Building Love Notes

Starting on the home page, which would display some of the recent Love Notes and two options; ‘See more Love Notes’, which goes to a category page displaying all the current Love Notes messages, and ‘Create a Love Note’, which goes to a page with a form to take the details of the Love Notes including who it’s too, the message, and who it’s from. Completing this form takes the user to the payment gateway to take payment and within Magento creates a product with the message as the product name. This product would be held in an On Hold state until it has been checked and approved, and will then be displayed on the Online Shop and an email sent to the customer with a link back to the product page. The product page displaying the Love Note would have options to share on various social networks. 

The next step is to write the requirements, get some costs, and start designing the pages. 

Weeknotes #29

What happened this week…

  • Thought about RMSP reporting.
  • Added product filters to the Cards pages to help customers find the right card for them.
  • SiteCore Training and Facebook Advertising Training so we can be more self-sufficient in our marketing.
  • Marketing Planning for email, social, and advertising for campaigns, events and weddings.
  • Qubit Training to learn about our new personalisation and behavioural targeting system.
  • Ecommerce Monthly Management Meeting to talk about projects, challenges, objectives, marketing, and vision.

Read this week…

Doing next week…

  • Getting ready to push MyMarathon.
  • Planning a Wedding Favours photo shoot.
  • Working with the Running and Walking Events teams to feature the Online Shop in their customer journeys.
  • Planning Social Media Marketing and Advertising.
  • Sending our Mother’s Day email to promote our range of gifts for Mother’s day.
  • Going to the Marketing & Engagement Directorate Away Day.Setting up lots of links to the main website to test assumptions about customer journeys and how to improve experience.
  • Meeting with our Logistics company.

Interesting stat of the week…

  • Dechox Sales over January and February this year are 51% up on the same period last year.

In the not too distant future….

  • Digitising pop-up shops.

Using Trello for task and project management

We use Trello for all of our task and project management. It gives us a view of everything that we’re doing, have done, or need to do from big projects to the smallest task.

Flexibility beats consistency

The most important thing to understand and accept about Trello is the flexibility of what a card, a list and a board mean to you. There is a tendency to formalise Trello by, for example, making a board represent a team or business area, making lists represent projects that team is working on, and cards represent features or tasks that are part of the project. Or think to yourself that lists need to be steps in a process such as To Do, Doing, Done, and as each of those lists as representing a state that the cards step through as part of the workflow. This is wrong. Don’t do it.

The strength of Trello is that lists and cards can represent all kinds of things, even on the same board. One list could be for all outstanding tasks with the cards as each task, another list could be for all projects with the cards representing each project, and if you need to, you can create another list for a specific project, add cards to it whilst the project is live and delete the list once all the cards have been moved to the Completed list. This flexibility of what the various elements in Trello represent to you is it’s strength as a system. It allows something like a project to easily move between a micro and macro level depending on it’s complexity, how much of a priority it is for the team, or how diverse the work required will be. It’s important to accept this fluidity of what represents what in order to use Trello to its best.

Tools and Workflows

There are four parts to our workflow for using Trello. We have a single Trello board, use email to create cards, ifttt to create recurring cards, and butler bot to automate jobs.

Trello Boards, Lists and Cards

Trello Boards, Lists and Cards

We use a single Board so that everything is available to see in one place. We could have one board for tasks, another for projects, etc., etc., but that makes it difficult to see all of the work of the whole team, especially in Calendar view which only shows an individual board.

We only have a few Lists. One is a backlog of ideas we might do one day, another is all our tasks, and three others are Queued Projects, Current Projects, and then Completed, which is where all cards eventually end up.

We have lots and lots of Cards. As cards are easily moved between lists they have an easy flexibility about them, and we like flexibility. A card can represent an idea, a task, or an entire project. So, we might collect idea on separate cards and then find that a few of those cards are related and can be grouped together to make a piece of work, so then the details on all those cards might become a checklist on another card and those original idea cards get moved to the Completed list.

Each card has a Description, an area of text near the title of the card. We use the description to record anything that you might want to find again and again such as a link to the Google Doc of the project requirements.

Comments are a good way to keep track of the state of a project without having to write a formal status update. When something changes in whatever that card represents its easy to just add a quick note about it or copy and paste an email.

Checklists are another way of keeping track of and showing the current state of a card. If the list has ten items and six of them are ticked then it’s easy to see that the card is sixty percent complete. Again, the tendency to try to formalise Trello and say Checklists are for this and Comments are for that takes away the flexibility.

Using IFTTT to create recurring cards

Using IFTTT to create recurring cards

We have a number of tasks that have to be completed every day, week of month. We don’t want to have to manually create all of cards ahead of time or have to remember to create them when they are due. So, we use IFTTT and have a number of applets that creates cards on schedule, assign members and set a due date and time.

ButlerBot to automate jobs

ButlerBot to automate jobs

Butler bot does a few different things for us. If someone is mentioned in a card it adds them as a member. Every day it counts the number of cards in our task list to tell us how much work is outstanding. And when a card is moved to the completed list it changes the date to today. Using ButlerBot for these kinds of regularly occurring jobs that are part of administering any system says time and ensures consistency. ButlerBot doesn’t forget to do things.

Email to create cards

Email to create cards

Sometimes being able to send a quick email to your Trello board to create a card is easier than actually going to Trello to do it. Trello understands using @membersname in the subject and assigns the card to that member, but it requires everyone to remember everyone else’s user name. We get around this by using ButlerBot to look for cards with each team members name and then assign that member to that card. Adding labels works in a similar way, just include #reporting in the subject line of the email and Trello will assign that label to the card. Adding cards by email falls short of being about to assign a due date to the card but again this can be handled by asking ButlerBot to look for words like ‘today’ and changing to due date to today’s date.

This combination of using a really flexible tool like Trello, the usability of being able to and cards by sending an email, and simplicity of using services like IFTTT and ButlerBot to automate jobs makes Trello a great way to manage all kinds of tasks and projects, and provide an overview of everything in one place.

What could heartbot do?

What’s the survival rate for children under five having open heart surgery?
Heartbot could tell you.

What time does the London to Brighton Bike Ride bus leave Brighton?
Heartbot could tell you.

What time is the Lewisham F & E store open on Saturday?
Heartbot could tell you.

Heartbot is an automated messaging service that people interact with through chat apps and services such as Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WhatsApp. It can recognise keywords in questions, search a database of answers and provide the answer in real-time. It can cut down on the number of calls and emails to customer and supporter services, provide accurate relevant information quickly, and save people time spent searching through webpages for information that they should be able to get in better, more twenty-first century, more ‘digital’ way.

Customer expectations are changing

The onset of the digital age gave customers more discretionary control over what they buy and from whom they buy. However, even with businesses equipped to deliver on now sky-high consumer expectations, many continue to miss the mark when it comes to understanding customers and their buying journey.
In a time when the customer has so much control, channel strategy should no longer be the primary concern for CMOs. Rather, “engagement strategy” is the new name of the game, and if marketing teams want to succeed, they’ll need to change their perspective drastically and focus on making the customer journey more engaging.

When asking about a product or service, 66% of consumers expect a response to their query on the same day, and over 40% expect a reply within the hour.

-Survey by Lithium Technologies

Heartbot can meet those customer expectations of being more engaged, having queries responded to almost instantly, and building affinity with the BHF in a scale-able, cost-effective, and digital way.

Example of a simple customer journey

Here is an example of looking for an answer to the relatively simple question “What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy” It shows the difference in customer journeys between searching on the web against asking Heartbot:

Search on the webAsk Heartbot
1.    Open browser


2.    Load

3.    Type “What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

4.    Get 839,000 results with links to Wikipedia, BHF, and WebMD.

5.    Click on one of the links (probably Wikipedia as it’s at the top).

6.    Load the Wikipedia page.

7.    Scroll through the page trying to find the answer amongst paragraphs of text.

8.    Go back to Google results and click on another link (probably BHF as it is second).

9.    Load the website

10.  The customer gets the information eventually but the journey they took was disjointed their relationship is more with google as the source of knowledge rather than the BHF.

1.    Open chat app of choice


2.    Click on conversation with Heartbot

3.    Type or speak “What is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

4.    Heartbot responds “Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an inherited disease of your heart muscle, where the muscle wall of your heart becomes thickened. Would you like to know more:

5.    Customer is satisfied with the answer and with the speed and ease of getting the answer. The customer relationship is intact and

Conclusion: Searching for answers on the internet is a (relatively) long difficult process that interacts with multiple brands, services, and websites and relies on the user being persistent and making judgements about which sources to trust. Searching for answers using a messaging service to interact with a trusted, well-known authority is fast, easy, trust-worthy, and in our control.

How Heartbot fits with BHF Digital Transformation

The BHF digital transformation strategy centres around aim of creating a digital experience for our customers that is both inspiring and rewarding, and how the experience we deliver can make our customers feel confident, appreciated, satisfied and valued:

Customer Focused

“We put supporters, volunteers, patients, carers, researchers and health professionals at the heart of our digital experience to build mutual trust, add value and meet them at their point of need.”

Heartbot enables supporters, volunteers, patients, carers, researchers and health professionals (and employees) to access information when they want it, using their preferred messaging app, almost instantly.

It Works

“We continually strive to provide a great digital experience that works first time, every time (irrespective of device, browser, and connection).”

Messaging apps and chatbots work in all devices, across multiple platforms, and require far less of a reliable connection than visiting a webpage. Chatbots also use less data allowance on mobile phones than loading a webpage.

Creates an Emotional Connection

“Digital will be used to build long term relationships and create a strong affinity with the BHF.”

Particular messaging apps/services may come and go but the trend for messaging apps and for chatbots is here to stay. Developing a long-term relationship with a customer is easier through a messaging service as it is the BHF they are interacting with, not Google, etc., and providing information quickly and easily builds greater trust in a brand as it is clear to the customer that the BHF wants to provides the information, rather than making the customer scrolling through webpages to get it.

How Heartbot fits with the BHF 2020 Strategy

Heartbot is the perfect digital transformation vehicle for the BHF because it has the potential to deliver improvements across multiple strategic themes:

Listen, Engage, Influence. Heartbot enables the BHF to speak and listen to many thousands of people in a personal engaging way through their messaging app of choice, and build on that relationship using the data provided by the customers.
Grow Income. Heartbot enables Retail to provide information such as where a shop is and when it is open, and Fundraising to provide information about events such as how to sign-up and when the events starts.
World-class Organisation. Heartbot enables employees to access information quickly and easily and reduces the burden on customer contact teams answering simple informational requests.
Support. Heartbot enables people with questions about heart health conditions to access information at a time and in a way that is convenient for them, from a trusted source that can

Example of a simple chatbot in action

A chatbot in action

This is a simple chatbot I built for Slack in about twenty minutes.

It isn’t very intelligent and simply uses keywords in the question to associate and deliver a pre-defined answer. Heartbot would be a far more advanced version that works across multiple messaging platforms.

Additional thoughts on Heartbot

Innovation in the charity sector

Using a chatbot to provide information to supporters, researchers, employees, etc. would be an innovative use of the technology within the charity sector.

An internal knowledgebase

Heartbot would provide an internal knowledgebase for BHF employees (regardless of being behind the BHF firewall) as well as giving supporters, patients, researchers, etc. the information they are looking for. It would be able to answer questions like ‘Who is responsible for adding recipes to the Recipe Finder?’ far more quickly than sending an email to someone who you think might know the answer, taking up their time, only for them to reply that actually they don’t know, but suggesting another person to try. Perhaps the internal version of Heartbot would be able to link to pages on Heartnet.

Administration and maintenance

Heartbot would have an administrative overhead in collecting all the information from across the BHF into one place and in maintaining the information as it changes over time. There should also be an ongoing process of analysing the questions Heartbot can’t answer and adding to the database of answers to continually improve it. However, as a Heartbot can answer thousands of queries at the same time it is an easily scale-able means of achieving efficiencies in how we access information internally and how we deliver information externally. A single source/service for information is far more efficient than people emailing or phoning each other (both internally and externally). Heartbot could lessen the workload of Supporter Services by answering simpler queries and handing the customer onto to a person if required.

Ongoing contact

Once a person has begun a conversation with Heartbot (see the growthbot example below for how to do this) we then have the potential to pick up that conversation at a later date by introducing a new topic, e.g. “A month ago you asked about a healthy diet. Would you be interested in signing up for Dechox, a way to give up chocolate and raise money for the BHF?”.

Further reading about chatbots

Infographic: Consumers Don’t Mind Hearing From Brands on Messaging Apps –
Facebook Messenger for Business: Six Ways Brands Can Use Chatbots –
GrowthBot is a chatbot for marketing and sales professionals. It connects to a variety of marketing systems (like HubSpot, Google Analytics and others) and gives you quick, easy access to information and services.
Facebook Messenger, Chatbots and the Opportunity for Customer Engagement –
The Rise of the Bots – What marketers need to know about chatbots –
Will Intelligent Personal Assistants Replace Websites? –