Almost all public sector and private sector services start with demands: banks, insurance, bookings, transactional services, online sales, etc.
The questions that the service designer may have at the point of the demand arriving is;
An Example of Service Design in the public sector
Below is an account into my work as a service designer through a real example. From the first days with a public sector client in England, using Service Design methodology to help the local council solve its problems. The journey starts with having had some discussions with the senior leaders, about their issues and their desire to move into new directions for their leadership outlook, behaviours, service workflows, and staff. The problem to solve is that “We don’t think that all of what we is doing is very good, and we can also do it with less resource, and use our stall in better ways”
Where do we start? The answer has to be at the beginning.
Stage 1. Starting at the Beginning — The Demand
The agreement in this iterative design is to first help them to examine their demands into the council, and to then decide what to do next. I have a maximum of 15 days I can assign to this initial work.
An interesting job, as it really starts at the beginning of the system for most organisations where demands come in. It has the potential to alter the service delivery of key services, and it will inform the workflow design and the Digital approach that the council will take.
Demand Analysis — Day 1
It all points to a great place to start as there is plenty to understand and improve, and I am keen to get started.
So, day 1, I listen to demands,using a headset, into an organisation for a few hours at a time for a service. I listen to the demand , and listen to what the customer is expecting to get out of it. Is it a query, an instruction for further actions, is it expected to be answered now? And I track what happens to those demands during the call. (It is also a great opportunity to understand the nature of the demand itself and what matters to that customer, for when I need to look at the customer journey)
Results so far — I have listened to 18 calls today.
The demands are listed with the service name, whether or not the calls were PO passed on, PB passed back, or R resolved. Obviously, in perfect service, we would want all our demands to be resolved there and then.
Get resolution at the point of transaction right, and we have the possibility of a successful flow through the organisation, and a happy customer. We want to be resolving the demand at the time they call, and we want to ensure that the organisation involves the least number of persons to answers to the question (Ideally just one person)
Where we have to pull for some support to answer the demand, we should ask ourselves why we are involving two people to answer one demand?
Pass Back & Pass on
We dont know the answer, and we pass it back, or pass the call on, and we could create lots of waste work for ourselves, and make the customer experience a poor one. A smooth flow according to what the customer expects, is ideal.
Sometimes the demand calls for a further transaction, and thats fine. But we should ask ourselves what value have we created at the front end when passing it on. What is the point of the front end if we’re not creating value there?
Thoughts for tomorrow — I am realising that we dont need to analyse all demands. This will save the client from paying for me to do non-value work, and we can focus on the important work that needs to be improved. I will talk with the client tomorrow and discuss.
Methodology — Managing Demand is the way that an organisation that is internally driven often behaves, and is often about how can we change or re-direct demand in the way that suits us. This is not about ‘managing demand’ it is the opposite. This is about understanding demand, so that we then know how best we can action it from an outside-in perspective.
New principles……….. VS…….. old way of looking at demands
Understand the demand end to end..VS.. Understand the demand in isolation.
Understand what matters, outside-in..VS.. Categorise the demand.
Made decisions based on knowledge and evidence..VS.. Use pre agreed rules.
Characteristics of demands that affect the design of now calls should be routed
Variety, variation, expertise, complexity, clarity & impact
The characteristics below can be used to analyse demands and understand the best way to deal with them.
Variety of types - How many different demands are coming into the service? The more variety, the most difficult it is for staff to learn how to deal with them all at the point of transaction.
Example - the number of differerent types of questions people ask in a tourist office.
The greater the variety, the greater the range of training a employee needs to answer the demands. If it is too great then consider splitting up call handlers into specialisms. The result may be to direct calls into the serivice itself.
Variation - how varied are the demands from a standard? The more varied requires greater flexibility of the process.
The greater the variation, the greater the decision-making ability is required for call handlers.
Level of expertise to respond - In some cases, it requires specific expertise and experience to answer queries. If the expertise is difficult to learn, or it frequently changes (perhaps due to legislation changes), then staff will find it increasingly difficult to learn how to respond.
The deeper the expertise, the more specialist the call handler needs to be. The result may be to direct calls into the serivice itself.
Complexity - the level of complexity of demands requires significant interaction, and that complexity may result in incomplete understanding of the issue. Often, this type of demand requires face to face contact, and more than one interaction to fully understand the problem.
Example: I cannot pay my rent due to my family circumstances, and I need help.
Complexity often needs a one to one contact to get to the bottom of the problem. And requires delegated decion-making that varies from the standard.
Clarity of the demand - some demand requests are not clear, as the customer may have prior knowledge of how they should engage to extract the desired outcome. Or, some demands are simply unclear, and require someone who has expertise to engage in specific ways to understand the true nature of the call.
Example: I need someone to help me get dressed in the morning. Actually, I am unable to bend down because I have a bad back.
It will require an enquiry with the person to further deterimine the cause of the problem, and its solution.
Impact - the impact that the resolution, or failure of the resolution of the demand has on the customer should be a factor with how that call is dealt with.
Example: I am homeless and have nowhere to sleep tonight.
A high impact will usualy require a very rapid response, and perhaps a process that ensures that is occurs.
SERVICE DESIGN HOW-TO SERIES
How-to Series #1 Engaging with leaders for Supportive Leadership
How-to Series #2 Taking Leaders on a Rapid Service Design Sprint
How-to Series #3 Front line staff that WANT to change!
How-to Series #4 A manager who transformed her understanding of management in one afternoon
How-to Series #5 Person centred design and why it is so challenging
How-to Series #6 Modern management, and the self-managed team
How-to Series #7 How to get busy managers to want to work with you
How-to Series #8 Front office demand workflow download