Conversation & Service Design at Safrapay


Although officially an “Assistant Vice President of Customer Service Operations”, I liked to think of myself as a service designer in a fintech startup.

I lived somewhere between business operations, design, and technology, working cross-functionally to build great services for our customers.

I wore lots of hats:

  • Chatbot Product Owner, Technical Curator & Designer
  • Communications Service Designer & Developer
  • Customer service workflow and procedure development
  • Integration project manager

Projects & Areas of Responsibility

‘Saffie’ the Chatbot


My role as product owner grew to include technical curator and conversation designer.

What does this role actually look like?

  • Collaborate in a design sprint with stakeholders and our vendor design & development team to identify and prioritize features
  • Create new entities to support a new dialog flow in an existing intent.
  • Work with an infrastructure colleague to prioritize and then release a react (web) analytics dashboard.
  • Test, debug and document a bug with frontend and backend dev teams in various environments.
  • Re-train the machine learning (ML) model after adding nuance to the Watson Assistant dialog to provide a more precise answer for a specific user input.
  • Collaborate with design, development & business stakeholders to integrate the chatbot with third party platforms


I can’t show you how Saffie works under the hood, but the recordings below highlight some of the key features of this Watson Assistant:

  • Front-end integration with React Native App, including custom UI
  • Integration with Salesforce Live Chat, allowing seamless handoff from chatbot to live customer support
  • Data integration with wider product infrastructure and security
  • Watson Assistant configuration deployed to and paired with Development (DEV), User Acceptance Testing (UAT), and Production (PRD) environments.

Saffie can respond to a wide variety of questions and responses:

  • Leveraging Watson’s capabilities, misspelled words (within reason) are still recognized. Type “bsketball” and Saffie will recognize you meant “basketball”.
  • Based on the conversation design and curation, there are numerous ways to ask the same question.
    • Not only can you ask “Talk to someone” and “Can I talk to someone?” to get the same response
    • You can also ask “Chat with someone” or “Call an agent” to get a similar response. In this case, although chatting and calling are different, the customer may not know what means of communication are available to them. So we provide them a number of options no matter what type of communication they ask for.
  • Provide answers to specific questions about a particular subject, such as “Tell me about your debit card” or more specifically, “Where are ATMs for my debit card?”.
  • Ask clarifying questions in response to a general question, such as “What cards do you have?” In this case, Saffie would respond with a menu of the applicable product(s).
  • Integration with the tone analyzer detects user sentiment, and can take action if necessary. In addition to the tone analyzer, user pain statements like “This app sucks” connects the customer with a live agent immediately.
Part 1 | Greeting Saffie & Asking About Products
![Saffie Demo - Part 1 Greeting Saffie & Asking About Products](/saffie_2021-05-31_part-01.gif)
Part 2 | Asking about a Specific Product and a General ‘How to Change’ Question
![Saffie Demo - Part 2 Asking about a Specific Product and a General ‘How to Change’ Question](/assets/portfolio/safrapay/saffie_2021-05-31_part-02.gif)
Part 3 | Telling Saffie ‘I’m Having Trouble’ and Chatting with a Live Agent
![Saffie Demo - Part 3 Telling Saffie ‘I’m Having Trouble’ and Chatting with a Live Agent](/assets/portfolio/safrapay/saffie_2021-05-31_part-03.gif)

Further Reading

To read how I approach building a chatbot with IBM’s Watson’s Assistant, see my (forthcoming) post How to Build a Chatbot with IBM’s Watson Assistant.

Notification Service Designer & HTML developer

Content Review & Management

  • requirements and copy review with stakeholders
  • copy writing and editing (collaborated with ux copywriter)
  • facilitate copy reviews with legal, compliance & risk teams

HTML/CSS e-mail template development

  • Write HTML/CSS from scratch (Email development is a tricky little sub-domain of front-end development!)
  • Deploy to Salesforce Service Cloud
  • In some cases, adapt template for Microsoft Word / Outlook mail merge (use what you’ve got!)

Project Management & User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

  • Create, prioritize and escalate Product Backlog Items (PBIs) via Azure DevOps
  • Work with stakeholders to escalate development needs
  • Work with developers and business analysts to deploy and test emails in development, testing (UAT) and production environments.

Customer Service Operations Integration Management

  • Vendor vetting, scope discussion, contract review & kickoff
  • Work with IT Security lead to define how to handle Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Vendor/integration project management.

Product Designer

Before transitioning to fill a design-business-technologist need in the operations team, I joined Safrapay as a consultant on the design team.

As a product designer, I performed the first accessibility audit of the Safrapay design system, focusing on contrast and typography.

My roles

  • Accessibility Audit: type contrast, iOS dev practice recommendations
  • Feature meetings
  • Packaging design
  • Design sprints