Jess d’Ardenne: Framing the Perfect Painting

DAZN’s Director of Product – Web, Acquisition and Retention, explains why creating a seamless customer experience is a fine art that can stem from something as little as an impromptu coffee…

How would you sum up your role at DAZN?

“My job, simply put, is to explain to a customer why they should sign up to DAZN and ensure that once they do so, it’s as efficiently as possible so that they can start watching immediately. The customer trusts my team to ensure that the correct payment is taken on a monthly basis, and if they ever want to cancel, we guarantee an easy cancellation process. My team also manages the help section, which is really important for retention because if you have a problem, we want to address it swiftly and easily.”

How would you describe the perfect product, and how have you applied that vision to your goals and accomplishments at DAZN?

“For me, the perfect product is akin to a perfectly framed painting, with the frame fading into the background, letting the painting shine. You don’t have to think to use it; it seamlessly becomes a part of your life and the way that you consume content. DAZN should never be a product which makes you say to yourself, “to get this information I need to go here, and then there, and then here…” It should be the opposite; you should be able to just open the app, and your favourite sport is right there.

Since I work on the sign up flow, making DAZN intuitive is one of the hardest parts of my job. No one likes administrative tasks, and in a way, that’s what signing up to a service is. A balance has to be struck however – we don’t want the customer’s sign up journey to be so quick that the user is left thinking “wait a minute, I didn’t sign up for that!” The customer should feel reassured that they know what they signed up for and should be confident and trusting in the information they’ve provided to us.

• What challenges have your team faced in amid the management of a rapidly growing customer base?

“Since DAZN is a global offering, we need to ensure we have a brand to match, and from an efficiency standpoint, build core components and then customise on top of that for local markets. So, the challenge will always be around balancing a global product with localisation. Localisation is incredibly important to make DAZN easy to use and trusted for our customers. Each market will expect different things in the sign-up flow. For instance, in Japan we found that customers prefer to enter their last name before their first – that’s actually a change we need to make to the product. Or, similarly, in Japan we need to provide much more information on the history and ownership of DAZN to build trust with customers. Again, these expectations need to be balanced and fulfilled. The fast-moving world of OTT means that if we don’t meet and exceed the bar, the chances are we will have lost the customer from the very beginning. While this is one of the most challenging parts of the job, it’s also, for me, the most rewarding and interesting because I love learning about different cultures.”

• How do you see the OTT customer experience developing over the coming years?

“I think that a better customer experience will not only be more about you, but also what the business can offer to you. DAZN aims to become a place which offers you more than just the sports our users typically watch. We want to personalise for you, but also give you even more – introduce you to new sports; get to know different players better, and much more. Essentially we want to make DAZN into something that goes beyond what even you thought you wanted, but adds serious value to your experience as a sports fan.

From a sign-up perspective, telling these stories by explaining to customers how DAZN can transform the way they watch sport will be vital to success.

I think sports is uniquely placed to take things that step further. The sense of raw fandom, a feeling of global fan culture and affinity that exists in sports is so strong. Where will that potential go? I don’t have the answer to that yet, but I do know we’re just getting started.”

Being one of the ‘originals’ at DAZN, you entered at its very humble and modest beginnings. How did your appointment come about, and what drew you to the company?

“My joiner story is an interesting one. When I first came for an interview, I didn’t even know it was an interview! I was just excited to meet the team because they sounded like fascinating and inspiring people. I met Ben Lavender (Chief Product Officer, DAZN) for coffee… and now that I know Ben, I know that he doesn’t even drink coffee! When I arrived it became very clear that it was an interview, because I think Ben said, “Welcome to this interview”. My immediate thoughts were that the product sounded incredible and transformational, and I suddenly thought, “Uh oh, I really want this job!” I ended up having a great conversation with Ben and the team about where they wanted the product to go and about my own ambitions and experience, and got the job.

I joined for the incredible vision shown by Ben and James Rushton (CEO, DAZN), and that hasn’t changed. I want to change everything about the way it feels to be a sports fan, and from day one the company has enabled me to do that. The other thing that hasn’t changed since I first joined is the people (well…there are more of us, but the spirit is the same). They are the smartest, most engaged, forward-thinking, sports-crazy bunch, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve never worked in an environment that is so open, collaborative and honest – any theory is valid and debatable. And when you combine that with a team of professionals who are at the top of their game, that has led to some of the best idea generation that I’ve ever been a part of.”

• What advice would you give anyone looking to get into the tech industry?

“Know that you can learn about it on your own, and also while you’re doing the job. Start at the beginning and put the time in, ask everyone a thousand questions and allow your brain to be a sponge. Bother people to understand why something works the way it does, and why it doesn’t. Anyone with analytical skills can join this industry and be at the forefront, but must remember that the way they see things may not be how the customer does. Always listen to your customers, and make best friends with the data team because they have deep customer insight.”