There are literally hundreds of life events that require Victorian citizens to transact with their state government. Each has the potential to make their life more difficult than it should be and often when they need it least. With services spread across so many different government departments, it can be confusing and frustrating experience.
The Victorian Government asked our team to explore the attitudes, needs and service preferences of Victorian citizens.
Many governments around the world are transitioning to a 'digital first' service model, providing a great online experience that can scale cheaply and provide a great experience for citizens. The Victorian Government were also keen to understand the needs of those who might need more support—such as the elderly, citizens with disability or recent migrants.
As part of the trial, we created two physical service centres—one in Melbourne and another in Shepparton, a major regional town in Victoria, Australia. We designed the service centres to marry-up survey information, customer behaviour and digital analytics to create a complete view of each individual service experience. In order to achieve accurate and meaningful feedback, the centres were designed and constructed in a way that made them feel authentic—like a 'real' Victorian Government customer service centre might.
The trial centres gave us the perfect environment to better understand current state and identify points of frustration or confusion. We could also explore people's attitudes and expectations before and after the service experience.
Beyond the trial centres we also ran a series of workshops and in-context interviews. These were important as they allowed us to explore broad topics such as peoples attitude to government, as well as ensuring we spoke to a wide range of citizens.
We presented the Victorian Government with a series of insights, many of which challenged existing preconceptions around what citizens expect. We also delivered an evaluation tool to allow them to better design service interactions that suit citizens, alongside a series of recommendations on how to improve and measure current services.
Service centreFitout of the service centre
Digital portalThe digital portal tracked user behaviour, generating video playback of each transaction (mapped to all other research touchpoints), analytical data and usage heatmaps.
Signage, wayfinding and furnitureAll aspects of the signage, wayfinding and furniture design were made to be modular, so that changes could be made iteratively and improvements could be measured over time.
Brand moodboardsBrand development was as agile as the service experience itself
Digital portal designThe digital portal was designed to be as simple as possible, and to collect meaningful behavioural data
Research documentationAll aspects of the trial's human and digital analytics was captured and reported, alongside deep synthesis and service recommendations.
In order to satisfy the project outcomes we needed to address two separate lines of inquiry: First, we needed to investigate the many ways in which people wished to conduct transactions in a service centre—to discover their preferred methods of transaction and their natural inclinations. Second, we needed to document an understanding of their general attitudes towards the list of transactions, and their experiences completing these transactions as part of their everyday lives.
The results formed part of a business case for the Victorian Government to proceed (or otherwise) with a more efficient service capability for the people of Victoria.
With more than 200 transactions inside the scope of the trial, our team undertook an exercise in process mapping. By defining the process flow of each transaction we could then build an understanding of the relative complexity of individual transactions, find commonalities and design an optimised flow through each. We also defined transaction dependencies like needing to print something out, having to get documents witnessed or having to provide different types of identification.
From here we could figure out what needed to be measured in a physical or digital sense, and design an appropriately thorough system of analytics.
We built a full-scale service centre in our studio, made with cardboard, to allow us to test and learn quickly. The layout needed to support the digital assisted model, as well as supporting the transactions identified in process mapping.
At the same time as building the physical prototype, we began creating a digital one. We built a portal to allow customers to quickly locate and understand the available digital transactions across departments. We spent some time making sure the digital experience worked inside the physical one, for example printing a document showed the user where the print station was inside the centre.
Our digital prototype was as much about gathering analytics as it was about the front-end experience. The back-end of the system was built to combine analytics from our experience, across the existing government services and tie them into the in-experience data we would collect.
We conducted several service enactments, refining and improving the physical and digital design as we went. Service deficiencies and customer pain points were identified quickly and addressed in near real-time—decisions were made in a far more 'real' context and environment.
Training the Researchers
Concierges were recruited from within the Victorian government—together with the Department of Premier and Cabinet we decided to bring in customer service staff that had experience guiding people through more complex and varied transactions. Beyond this, though, we need to train our concierges to be good researchers.
By bringing the concierges into the service prototype, we could train them in a more 'real' environment. And by including them in the prototyping process itself, they could experience the pain and delight points throughout our service enactments. They built an understanding of what it meant to empathise with and record the customer experience.
A complete customer and brand experience was designed from scratch. From the way people flow through the space, the information architecture of digital touchpoints, to furniture design, fabrication and install.
All aspects of the storefront fitouts were designed so that they were completely modular. Having a modular signage and furniture system allowed us to move elements around the space and test different service flows.
The visual design of the brand was developed in a similarly agile manner, with moodboards being used to develop out palettes of colour and materials that would define the appearance through digital touchpoints, furniture and fittings, right through to concierge uniform design.
Street-level signage, internal wayfinding and motion design (for street-facing LCD screens) were all important brand design considerations for the experience, as much as were newspaper advertisements and promotional posters.
Due to our rapid prototyping approach, we were able to identify and design around pain points quickly and early, allowing us more time finessing the look and feel of the spaces and building a highly polished user interface for people to interact with.
Integrated Service Analytics
We placed a number of research tools at different touchpoints within the trial service centres. These included in-person surveys, digital self-service surveys, rapid ten-question interviews, digital user journey tracking and real-time concierge feedback.
Surveys were conducted at the beginning, middle and end of the journey. Two of the surveys were conducted by centre staff (also known as concierges) and the third was conducted voluntarily, completed using an online form placed within the transaction process.
Our approach to analytics meshed what we were learning about people's experiences in the service centres with traditional digital measurement techniques. We developed a tracking system which allowed us to follow customers from their initial entry survey though our portal, across the destination website and back to their exit survey. This gave us the ability to take a deep look at all the factors involved in an individual transaction, from the user's emotional state to performance of third party websites.
We made use of Google Analytics to track user activity, Calibre to measure website performance and Inspectlet to unearth critical user behavior. We were able to replay entire transactions (in real time) and use session playbacks to identify any pain points. 'Click maps'—aggregated heat maps showing where users click on a page—allowed us to determine where users were spending most of their time and where most of their attention was focused.
By using these tools, alongside questionnaires and real-time feedback from concierge staff, we could achieve a high level of understanding around citizens preferences and behavior.
Collecting real-time feedback allowed us to update the digital portal design on the fly and incrementally enhance the user experience during the course of the trial.
The feedback also allowed us to greatly improve the search functionality within the digital portal by making adjustments to the 'most popular' transaction list and adding common spelling mistakes into the natural-language search terms.
We conducted one-on-one interviews with more than thirty Victorian citizens to discover their relationship with the Victorian government, their understanding of government transactions and the decisions making process they go through each time they need to transact with government.
The insights gathered from these interviews informed decision-making factors and service principles for the Victorian Government to use in the creation of future service centres.
Group workshops were conducted to discover group perception of government services and their relationship with the public sector. These workshops are used as a way to stimulate thought amongst the group and to gather both assenting and dissenting views. They also allow us to validate insights gathered during one-on-one interviews and speak with a larger number of people.
Throughout the project we immersed ourselves in other government service centres to observe behaviour and chat to people as they queued or on the way out. We also looked at comparative service centres to observe things like traffic flow, self-service and assistance models in operation.
Our final report delivered a comprehensive view of the current state, as well as recommendations for the future.
We outlined actionable customer insights, service measures and digital analytics to point to key service opportunities and recommendations.
We then developed a design tool and set of service principles to deliver on the needs of citizens as well as delivering great value for the government. The report included very practical and tangible advice around improving the service experience, as well as methodologies to measure, evaluate and improve into the future.
The report has been warmly received across government—they are committed to delivering great value to citizens, and this piece of work gives them a depth of understanding and tools to continue to improve services.
Creating a relevant, digital-first public service experience required a thoroughly citizen-centric mindset. For the government to cater to all citizens, we sought to better understand the current pain points of all citizens, including recent migrants, the elderly and people with physical disabilities.
The trial allowed us to gather insights, but also allowed us to prototype the rapid delivery of service analytics, data-driven decision-making and support modes that are required to operate a modern public service.
The future of Victorians' transaction experiences is bright, particularly as the Victorian Government continues to innovate with new technologies and new delivery models to create public value into the future.
The use of service prototypes in a physical environment was quite impressive
They also included ethnographic studies in their assessment and insight gathering for the design of the service.
The use of service prototypes in a physical environment was quite impressive and the combination of being able to have a citizen flow through a physical space and interact with the digital solutions was quite a high fidelity approach to be able to design alternative service for citizens.
Another call out was the use of analytics, which is sometimes not that common in qualitative and it was really great to see how they incorporated that into their research design.