Customer intimacy translates into value for Ministry of Primary Industries.

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New Zealand's primary industries generate approximately $35 billion per year in exports. The Ministry for Primary Industries has a goal to double that by 2025.

To catalyse this growth, MPI wanted to develop a better internal understanding of export businesses to then improve MPI’s services. Since November 2015, DNA has been working alongside MPI to provide leadership in service design and design thinking. 


The team conducted 80 qualitative interviews across New Zealand in three phases, to learn about the goals, needs, and challenges of businesses involved in the export process across the fruit, processed food, meat, dairy and wine sectors.

Informed by the insights of this research, we created a diverse range of tools for MPI including customer and business segmentation, profiles, journey maps, sector-specific themes and cross-sector pain points. We also facilitated co-design workshops with industry representatives and MPI staff to come up with service improvement ideas, and asked a cross-section of export companies to prioritise these based on their needs. After deciding on the most desirable and feasible ideas, DNA then created service blueprints to illustrate the ideal customer experience and how MPI could deliver to these aspirations.

Project impact

The tools created have stimulated a shift in the way MPI views their export customers, and a better understanding of their needs, aspirations, and challenges. The process has increased MPI’s credibility, improved customer relationships, and created internal confidence in the design process. It has also formed new relationships with other government agencies and potential partners.

What next

In 2017 MPI will be running a pilot called the Export Regulatory Advice Service. This pilot will begin with a focus across a small number of sectors and feature a dedicated team providing advice, education and support to help New Zealand businesses with exporting processes. MPI is also currently exploring new relationships with industry partners to prototype policies and regulatory approaches to keep up with advancements in food innovation. Lastly, MPI is investigating the use of online tools to help businesses find and navigate relevant regulatory information. 


For me personally, this project has highlighted the importance of great client relationships. Our client quickly became part of the team, creating a fast and smooth work-flow based on good communication, trust, and a balance of complementary skills. As the project progressed and internal interest increased, this relationship was crucial to be able to bring others on the journey and balance different priorities while still staying focused on the core purpose and scope of the project. Working with a project champion who was pro-active in socialising work within the organisation made a world of difference to what we were able to influence in the internal environment, and has been a major factor in the success of the project.

Rachel Knight / Experience Designer