The Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) is one of the largest insurance organizations in North America, covering over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across Ontario. When an injury or illness happens on the job, we provide wage-loss benefits, medical coverage and support to help people get back to work. Funded by businesses, we also provide no-fault collective liability insurance and access to industry-specific health and safety information.
"It's a maze to try to get through, and it shouldn't be this way. It should be clear, it should be easy and it should be quick." (Person with Injury, Person with Injury Ethnography)
Imagine the frustration you would feel if you or a family member endured a workplace injury that affected not only your ability to work, but also your personal life. Now, imagine if in addition to that, the company that is supposed to provide you with support treats you as though you are a number amongst the many other cases they handle on a daily basis. Maybe you try to get information on our website and realize you have to call and wait in a queue or wait to receive a letter. This type of thinking formed the basis for our future state service design.
Over the past several years, the WSIB's service experience has received increased scrutiny. Primarily, customers are unhappy with limited and one-sided communication channels, outdated technology, over-emphasis and strict adherence to policies and procedures, and long wait times. Due to silos within the organization, our most vulnerable customers are receiving insufficient support. Altogether, this has resulted in a decline in overall customer satisfaction.
To meet the needs of our customers, a transformational program, Core Services Modernization (CSM) was born. With three clear-cut objectives, the CSM program was designed to ensure that customers remained at the forefront of all decisions. Firstly, the organization wants to achieve more efficient and effective operational and administrative processes. Secondly, we want to reduce risk on the WSIB's technical footprint. Lastly, we want to provide better customer service and reduce burden for our customers. As we shift our focus to a customer-centric approach, we have decided to modernize key aspects of our services in order to decrease (and eventually eliminate) these complaints. To lead the work of defining a future state vision for the WSIB, the CSM program constructed a Service Design team within the Customer Experience and Digital Division in our Toronto head office. The goal of the future state experience is to remedy the current customer pain points by delivering more convenient channel access for customers, faster decision making on claim files, more information sharing internally across departments, greater transparency and awareness of 'where customers are' in a process, and more self-service options than ever before. We want to flip the script on the current reputation WSIB has with our customers. We provide an essential service and we want our customers to feel a sense of security in the unfortunate event that they require these services.
Research -> Design Challenges and Design Sprints -> Process Redesign -> Model Office Prototyping and Simulation -> Solution Delivery
The Customer Experience team set out to understand how we could better cater to the needs of our customers. The insights generated from this research directly informed the design challenges for the service design sprints, as well as the transformation of processes to eliminate silos within the organization and produce a seamless experience for customers. This research included an analysis of quarterly and annual customer service surveys, as well as the deployment of a small group of Design Researchers skilled in immersive ethnographic research methods. The researchers met with customers, observed how they interacted with the WSIB, and analyzed their feedback on our services.
Since 2016, the Customer Experience team has conducted 17 ethnographic research studies and concept tests involving more than 450 individual customers, directly interviewing them or observing their interactions for approximately 1-3 hours. The research methods used for these ethnographies included customer diaries, contextual interviews, shadowing and walk-a-mile immersion.
The Customer Experience team applied the service design methodology to facilitate the co-creation of the end-to-end future state service experience. The outputs of this work included future state customer journeys and their associated service blueprints. This approach ensured that people, process and technology requirements were designed in lockstep, fully anchored to the desired future state customer experience.
The design of the WSIB's future state customer journey was divided into sprints to enable deep dives into specific customer pain points related to their service experiences. With a goal of bringing clarity to the WSIB's service transformation efforts, a systematic and staggered approach to redesigning each "leg" of the customer experience was outlined. Four core legs were initially identified, and each leg was given its own sprint. Collectively, the four legs represent the life of a claim, and begin with the simplest journey to the most complicated:
Leg 1: Reporting of Injury, Decision & Initial Health Care
Leg 2: Payment of Loss of Earnings Benefits
Leg 3: Case Management (Recovery & Return to Work)
Leg 4: Dispute Resolution
Each service leg includes interactions between the WSIB, injured person, employer and healthcare practitioner. They also include sub-journeys, which represent variations on the core experience based on specific scenarios, including the experience for linguistic minorities. The latter represents a cohort of our customers who have low English literacy in both written and oral communication.
Through customer empathy activities within the service design workshops, subject matter experts from across the organization generated research-based 'How Might We' statements to guide each sprint. Specifically, participants leveraged customer research to identify and prioritize our customers' pain points. The pain points were then reframed as How Might We statements to ensure that our future product, service, and experience designs all trace back to our customers' needs. Four overarching opportunities for improving the experiences of customers navigating the WSIB were generated:
1. How might we communicate a claims decision and reimburse health care within 24 hours of injury?
2. How might we ensure no one loses a cycle of pay due to a workplace illness or injury?
3. How might we create a seamless experience for our customers during their time of need that supports recovery and return-to-work, while ensuring financial stability?
4. How might we engage the workplace parties and make the dispute resolution process clear, supportive, timely, and equitable, such that the injured person and the employer can navigate the process as an individual?
Each service design sprint included future state ideation. Using the How Might We questions, participants generated hundreds of ideas when asked to imagine a 'new' service experience. Their ideas were then assessed from the perspective of customer desirability, implementation feasibility, and business viability. The most promising ideas were moved forward into the future state service prototyping phase.
Built into WSIB service design engagements is a concept testing phase, where direct customer feedback is sought on service concepts and prototypes, before any code is created or policy manuals are changed. This allows the design team to make changes to the service before significant costs are incurred, in case internal assumptions are misaligned with customer behavior.
In total, the Service Design team completed four core customer journeys and six sub-journeys in 2019. To bring all of these journeys together into a cohesive and complete experience, the Service Design team also developed a "mega journey" that merges steps from all journeys to display the comprehensive future state experience from the beginning to the end of a claim.
In addition to leading the design sprints, the Service Design team built a physical and digital simulation space called the "Model Office" to serve as a working prototype of the future service experience. Model Office simulations integrate the people, process and technology components of the new service designs, iteratively testing them against real scenarios within a simulated work environment.
Model Office simulations incorporate future technology solutions and communication designs, alongside interactions with staff and customers. These simulations allow us to better understand the feasibility, effectiveness, and cohesiveness of the future service across frontstage and backstage touchpoints, while keeping the customer front and center. Front line employees, managers, and customers participate in the simulations and their feedback ensures that critical improvements are made to products and services before launch. It also allows the Service Design team to test assumptions, identify and close design gaps, and inform communications, change management, and training strategies for both internal staff and customers. In doing so, the Model Office helps the entire transformation program mitigate benefits realization and change management risks, and optimizes the end-to-end customer and employee experiences.
This work has inspired the development of several digital products that reduce customer burden and provide our customers with enhanced and more efficient service. These products include:
Document Upload - This new feature on the WSIB's website allows documents to be on file within minutes. Approximately 500,000 documents have been uploaded through the tool since the first version of this product was launched in September 2018, decreasing WSIB's environmental footprint by approximately 1.5 million sheets of paper. The processing time to get documents from our customers to the right location has gone from upwards of 10 days to a few minutes. Since January 2019, four additional releases have been made to this product based on needs identified through customer research and the future service designs.
Return-to-Work Email- Launched in June 2019 this product enables WSIB users to send secure emails directly from our system of record to injured / ill people, employers, and external providers. This significantly reduced the administrative burden of communicating critical claim information, and has increased transparency by ensuring that the claim file captures all correspondence. Over 23,000 emails have already been sent, ensuring that our customers get the information they need in seconds instead of waiting up to 10 days to receive a letter.
Address Change for Business – In June 2019, the digital team delivered functionality enabling employers to change their business address on the WSIB website. Customer research discovered that this small task drove approximately 10,000 calls to the WSIB each year. It also discovered that delays in processing address changes inadvertently resulted in businesses being unfairly fined for late payments after mail went to the wrong location. In its first nine months since launch, almost 6000 addresses were changed using the online tool.
Online Reconciliation – Account reconciliation is a year-end process intended to validate an employer's annual gross payroll used to calculate their insurance premiums. The built-in logic and automation of the new online solution reduced the error rate typically experienced with the paper submissions from 12% to 1%. Since its launch in March 2019, over 23,000 reconciliations have been processed through the online tool, representing 31% of all submissions.
Online Clearance - A clearance is proof that a business has WSIB coverage and their account is up-to-date. Prior to the launch of the new solution, contractors would generate 33 clearances per year on average, and now only have to generate a maximum of four clearances per year. Call volumes dropped by 14% and customer satisfaction increased from 27% to 68%.
Online Services for Persons with Claims (OSPC) - OSPC is a transformative product that will be launched in June 2020. Grounded in customer research and the future service design, the digital portal will enable our customers to view, for the first time ever, all of their claim information online and provides customers with an option to communicate with the WSIB through secure messaging.
The aforementioned work has transformed the way the WSIB provides service to its customers. The pain points and ideas generated through service design have been, and continue to be, used to design and deliver many online and offline solutions that reduce administrative burden and increase customer satisfaction. Through service design, the WSIB has shifted its thinking from an inside-out approach to an outside-in approach that puts the customer first, from start to finish.