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To give your citizens what they need, it's time you asked them what they want

Save money and provide better services by understanding your citizens

It’s a bold statement, but one that can be backed up. Do you know why your citizens are contacting you and what they want to achieve?  If you don’t you could be wasting money and leaving citizens frustrated.

There are plenty of tools to help you track what visitors to your website are doing. Site traffic is valuable data but without understanding your citizens it only gives you half the picture. Having the numbers doesn’t mean that you know what to look for when it comes to better serving your citizens.

This is where Service Design - the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers - can really play a part.


Service Design starts with the citizen

It’s easy to talk about the user but then fall into the trap of looking at your service and its performance measures. Citizen needs can often be created by reverse engineering the service’s view of the world. Start by understanding the citizen and what they want to achieve. Research about your citizens will be invaluable in helping you to go deeper to understand their lives and go wider to understand what they were doing before, during, and after the transaction.

You may know transaction numbers across different channels. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you know what’s really going on. If you want to see the how the service is working for your users, then you need to witness how people are interacting with the other channels. A simple first step is to shadow the contact centre or front desk. You may be surprised how much you learn about how and why people make contact in the first place. You can also use it as an opportunity to interview citizens too. Witnessing the service in action may only take a few hours but the insight could radically change the way you see the service.


Solve the right problem

Once you’ve got a better understanding of your users you can figure out the actual problem you need to solve.

Creating a ‘user problem’ statement focuses the mind on a citizen-centric solution. But remember, this starts with the citizen’s problem; it isn’t about your service. Articulating a clear citizen need, which is service agnostic, is especially useful for breaking down the barriers between traditional silos. Focusing on needs sets out the real challenges your citizens are facing, and it shouldn’t be about a specific service. This helps shift the internal conversation from how are we currently working to ‘how might we solve these challenges?’.

Once you’re clear on the problem to solve then you can start to fix it. Your services are constantly changing so embrace it. If you view it as work in progress you can adopt a hypothesis mindset and take the opportunity to test your hypothesis and iterate towards a better solution. Creating a hypothesis allows you to use your data more effectively as you know what you’re looking for.


What about your website?

‘Do you know what this page is for?’ might sound simple but it can be a revealing question. If you can’t answer this question and provide a meaningful measurement from it, the page probably isn’t needed. If you can, define the page objective by asking yourself does it match the citizen need? Does it solve the problem statement? One quick way to test this is to add a pop up to ask the citizen ‘did you manage to do what you needed today?’.


See the difference

Satisfied citizens tend not to call, chase or visit. In one large local authority, simply by solving the right problem reduced phone calls to a single service by 10,000 in the first month and generated the savings to reflect it. Are you asking the right questions to make a real difference to your citizens lives?


Find out more about solving the right problem when it comes to delivering services to your citizens.