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Service design toolkit for Victorian Government

The Design Toolkit provides Victorian Government Agencies with information and tools on understanding how customers find government information and services, building a customer-centric organisation and designing better customer experiences.

Salsa Digital 30 September 2016

The report

Designing Better Government Information and Services: A Service Design Toolkit for Government aims to provide Victorian Government agencies with information and tools to help them create better customer experiences.

The report is divided into three main sections:

  1. Understanding how customers find government information and services
  2. Building a customer-centric organisation
  3. Designing better customer experiences

The report is the result of 14 weeks of both customer and organisational research and is aligned with the Victorian Government Digital Strategy.

In terms of deliverables for the project, there are four parts:

  1. Report
  2. Tools
  3. Posters
  4. Reference cards

The ‘preamble’

Before moving onto the three main sections, the report provides some introductory information covering the methodology and the government’s mandate for customer-centric solutions.

The methodology covered five stages:

  1. Immerse and audit — Existing materials were analysed to see what was already known about customer behaviour. Eight stakeholders across different departments were also interviewed.

  2. Online cultural probe — For a week, 18 people across different ages, gender, locations, income and technology familiarity were examined across their daily experiences with government.

  3. Customer design workshops — Design workshops were held in Melbourne and Bendigo. The sessions “focused on co-designing an ideal journey with government and sought insight into customer needs, attitudes and behaviours.”

  4. Organisational workshops — Ongoing workshops within government departments to better understand the internal context.

  5. Service jams — Finally, the design tools were used by the Digital Engagement team to map a real customer scenario and to map the customer experience and find solutions to any problems.

In terms of customer-centric solutions, the report identified that a move from government-centric to citizen-centric would bring with it three main benefits:

  1. Reduced costs
  2. Increased internal alignment
  3. Better customer experiences

In turn, better experiences:

  • Save customers’ time
  • Save money
  • Save frustration

Section 1: Understanding how customers find government information and services

This section of the report focuses on getting to know the customers (citizens) better. “If we comprehend where the delight and pain points lie in the current customer journey, we can confidently create solutions that emphasise delight and avoid pain.”

Key customer insights

The project found several customer insights that applied to all customers regardless of age, gender or location.

  • Demographics do not dictate behaviour — Customers come from diverse backgrounds but these differences do not affect the customer experience/journey.

  • Customers use digital first — Most customers use digital first although they also use the phone and face-to-face (sometimes because they can’t find what they’re looking for online and sometimes as a first choice).

  • Customers are outcome focused — Customers interact with the government to achieve a specific outcome.

  • Customers are emotional about government services — Government services often relate to personal issues, and therefore if things don’t work customers can become frustrated quickly.

  • People are time poor — They are frustrated by sites or services that waste their time.

  • People understand government differently — Government structure isn’t always known to the customer and this can make interactions confusing.

Key customer delight points

They also identified the things that made people happy:

  • Expectations managed — When people know how long something will take and are kept updated, they are more likely to be satisfied.

  • Treated as a valued customer — Customers are happy with good customer service.

  • Digital efficiency— Customers see the digital channel as the fastest method and are happy when government delivers this.

Key customer pain points

And some key customer pain points:

  • Wasting time
  • Inconsistency between the information found online and what customers are told or find elsewhere
  • Long, inefficient processes
  • Customers feel they’re not always treated respectfully
  • The information government provides to customers can be difficult to understand

Customer journey

The report goes on to track the customer journey, from the need to the outcome. It identifies three different customer journeys:

  1. Information seeking
  2. Interaction/service
  3. Both information and interaction/service

In terms of that journey, the report says: “Throughout their journey, customers experience different need states.” Need states identified are:

  • Finding information
  • Understanding information
  • Applying to my situation
  • What next?
  • Interacting
  • Receiving

The report includes a great, visually appealing table that provides details on all of these need states, covering the need, primary and secondary channels, pain points, and transition behaviour.

Next the report maps the need states against all the channels (e.g. online, phone, email) including non-government channels such as forums and social media. This visual table looks at which channels are used during which need states.

Section 2: Building a customer-centric organisation

Section 2 focuses on the customer-centric organisation. The report identifies the need for understanding and design tools, but also says it “is important that government creates an environment in which its people are empowered to put customers at the forefront.”

According to the report, there are four key areas for embedding customer-centricity into an organisation, and these things can be classified as either ‘doing’ or ‘thinking’:

  1. Tool sets (doing)
  2. Skill sets (doing)
  3. Knowledge sets (thinking)
  4. Mindset (thinking)

Key organisational insights

When examining different government departments, the study found the following:

  • Digital maturity differs across departments — Digital content and delivery is approached differently across departments.

  • Barriers to change are perceived to be high — Stakeholders want change but feel it’s hard within organisational constraints.

  • Collaboration happens through informal networks — Stakeholders want to share knowledge and processes, but there aren't any formal processes in place to do so.

  • Government processes do not always put customers first — With digital first approach, there’s an opportunity to redesign things to put customers first.

We particularly liked this quote: “customer centricity is a journey not a destination.”

Tool sets

“Tools help us do things better, make tasks easier and do things we couldn’t have done otherwise.”

The three tools they’ve designed cover:

  1. How might we? — Question to frame a problem.
  2. Empathy mapping — To understand what people are experiencing.
  3. Drawing — Think about things visually instead of using words.

Skill sets

The report talks about the need for government employees to develop and improve skills around customer-centric design and identifies three specific skills with accompanying tools:

  1. Journey mapping — Map your customer’s experience/journey and identify pain points.

  2. Facilitation — Improve your facilitation skills to get more out of workshops.

  3. Active listening — Learn and practice active listening, where you suspend your own position to really understand where the other person is coming from.

Knowledge sets

In terms of knowledge to increase people’s understanding of customer-centric solutions, the report discusses and provides three tools:

  1. Service design — Service design is used for designing a new service or improving existing ones. (You may also like to read the Salsa Digital blog on service design.)
  2. Content and information design — Structuring and writing content so users can easily find what they’re looking for...and understand it.
  3. Understanding your customers — The better the understanding of your customers, the better customer service experiences you can design. (See our blog on getting to know your audience.)


The report defines mindsets as “how we approach the world” and being made up of both beliefs and attitudes. It identifies four mindsets necessary for customer-centric solutions:

  1. Empathy — Seeking to understand others, being prepared to accept another perspective of the world. Great to help you understand customers.
  2. Courage — Helping you believe in the possibilities and trying something new. “It is critical when driving change in an organisation.”
  3. Collaboration — Working in collaboration will deliver better outcomes.
  4. Curiosity — Driving learning and asking the all-important why?

Section 3: Designing better customer experiences

Section 3 is divided into two parts: firstly information on design principles that will help government employees design better customer experiences; and secondly four tools to help design better services.

Design principles

The report identifies the following design principles:

  • Be human — Treat customers with respect so they feel like they matter.
  • Guide the journey — Help customers understand the steps and guide them.
  • Be seamless — Think about the overall customer experience and make it easy for them to move across channels.
  • Be consistent — Consistency will make it easier for customers to interact with different services.
  • Be trustworthy — Deliver information customers can trust.
  • Be flexible — Create experiences across the channels.
  • Be available — Deliver effective and efficient services.
  • Manage expectations — Guide the customer through their journey, keeping them up to date.

The tools

The project included the development of four tools:

  1. The journey mapping tool — Use this tool to evaluate an existing service or create a new one by creating the ideal journey.
  2. The organisational mapping tool — Use this tool to evaluate the organisational process, and discover the drivers of customer pain.
  3. The ideation tool — Use this tool to brainstorm potential solutions to a customer pain point. The tool uses the relevant need state and design principles to ensure the solutions focus on resolving customer pain.
  4. The solution evaluation tool — Use this tool to compare possible solutions, move forward with the best solution. The tool helps you evaluate the impact on customer experience and government, as well as ease of implementation.

Recommendations for redesign

The report then goes on to recommend lots of different action items, separated by ‘do now’ and ‘do next’. The do now items range from optimising SEO by using customer language to introducing a chat feature. In all, there are 17 action items that the report classifies as ‘do now’.

The ‘do next’ items also cover a lot of ground, with 12 action points from reviewing site structure to building in functionality that guides the customer through an online transaction.

We recommend our government clients check out these action points on pages 42-43.

Key takeouts

The report also lists eight key takeouts:

  • “Guide end-to-end journeys of high demand services.
  • Eliminate jargon and government terminology to increase understanding.
  • Structure the information architecture and content around the customer.
  • Ensure technology works across all devices.
  • Prioritise content improvements and implement a testing program with customers.
  • Build transparency into content and processes.
  • Be prepared for and make channel transitions easy.
  • Reduce contact centre wait times.”

More information

You can find the report and some of the tools in the blog under Designing better government information and services.

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