Re-design of Council services
The case study investigates the re-design of council services. The case organization is an external consultancy agency that has been contracted to a Borough Council in the southeast of England to undertake the service design work. The service re-design work by the consultancy agency extends to all Council services whilst for the purposes of this case study, three areas have been focused on, which are housing, planning and waste.
Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The key stakeholder organizations in this case study are the Consultancy Agency and the Council while in detail, the stakeholders include the Council staff, consultancy staff and service users involved in the user research and the testing of website. The main beneficiaries of service design are citizens who use Council services and the Council itself since clear information and improved communication would make the service experience easier for both sides, by managing the expectations of customers and easing staff workload.
The Consultancy agency has facilitated the Council to employ three main service design methods. The first one is journey mapping, in which a professional service designer from the Consultancy has supported the Council staff to establish the ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ of services from a customer and staff perspective. The second is personas method to inform the discovery phases. The Consultancy agency has purchased Experian data to develop various personas of fictional residents of the Borough. Some of personas have also been selected to guide the journey mapping sessions with Council staff, which is the third service design method. These service design sessions have encouraged the Council staff to understand user needs. Nevertheless, no real service users have been involved in these sessions and all the pain points for users have been articulated by the Council staff.
Digital Transformation Process
Digital transformation in this case study is mainly reflected on the service re-design task of developing the Council’s website. The Consultancy agency updated and aligned the website with Government Digital Standard guidelines. Through service design, the Council’s website has been modernized to ensure the effective provision of information and digital forms to support users to self-serve themselves.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
In this case study, the service design process has generated positive and concrete results in three aspects. First, a triage system has been created with the re-design of reception area. The improved reception area is seen as more aesthetical and enhancing the internal efficiency since it changes the interconnection in the services, which allows staff to better manage their time. Second, the digital improvement has been viewed positively. The new website makes services more accessible for customers while the improved technology supports backend business processes, leading to greater efficiency from an operation perspective. Third, the service design methods, with the journey mapping sessions in particular, have been seen as helpful for rethinking about user needs and gaining perspective on the aims of the service and the implications for staff and customer experience.
Challenges & Bottlenecks
Several challenges have been identified within this case study. A central one is that service re-design in one area potentially impacts another dimension of the service journey, particularly where services are interconnected. In this case, for example, the redesign processes have led to new tasks for and new kinds of pressure on the frontline staff in the reception area, and they have not received sufficient training in how to handle the new tasks. Another key challenge identified is related to resources and time constraints. The Council staff in this case study have limited time and resources to spend on service design, which has affected who could attend the service design sessions. As a result, the council staff could not be sufficiently involved in the service design process. Also, user involvement is absent in the service design, which has been highlighted as a weakness of the service design approach. Lastly, a challenge in relation to continuous improvement has been identified as concerns have been raised around whether there has been sufficient testing or there will be resources and momentum for continuous service improvement.
Transferability & Replicability
The experience and the lesson learnt in this re-design of council services may be transferrable to service design practices in other public service settings.
The service design approach is considered as the key success factor, which has enabled the Council staff to shift their focus towards a user perspective of services rather than on the internal efficiencies of business processes.
Four practical lessons have been learnt. First, clear communication between the Consultancy agency and the Council staff is essential for the collaborative approach. Second, a strategic and holistic approach to service design would support the change process. Third, the inclusive involvement of the Council staff in the service design process is necessary. Fourth, an emphasis on a user perspective and a focus of internal business processes need to be both taken into account.