December 20, 2017
Getting Your Bearings for the Goldilocks Zone
By: Brian Lee-Archer

Recently I described the “Goldilocks Zone in Social Services” where I positioned the provision of services in the context of the catchphrase from the classic fairy-tale of the three bears: “not too hot, not too cold, just right.” For social services, I described this as “not too onerous, not too easy” with the aim of provisioning just the right amount of service according to the context of the situation. The modern term for just right is a differential service response.

And before suggestions arise of another cost cutting agenda, the principle of “just right” can mean more services and support for the many people currently missing out on positive social outcomes.

The concept, while well received, generated obvious follow-up questions such as “so how do you reach the Goldilocks Zone?”. There are four areas of capability for social services agencies to consider, namely:

  • Customer genomics

  • Personalised experiences

  • Applied intelligence

  • Dynamic evaluation

  1. Customer Genomics – Understand who they are and their needs and wants

    The word “Genome” originated in the 1930s as a blend of the words gene and chromosome. The concept of capturing and using customer data to understand the customer genome has been a focus of the commercial sector for many years.

    This idea of a customer genome is relevant for social services as agencies seek to provide more tailored services. Given the size and scale of the typical social services agency, tailoring services demands a mass personalisation approach that leverages standard offerings while taking account customer behaviour at the point of delivery.

    Policy makers and service delivery organisations have traditionally grouped individuals by social program. This segmentation approach is an over-simplification that fails to address the many factors that influence behaviours as people experience changes in circumstance.

    Factors such as income levels, gender, age, culture, language, education, digital literacy and, location, are examples of (reasonably) stable attributes within the customer genome. Performing multi-factor segmentation in real-time can provide the deep insight to assist in predicting behavioural responses as circumstances change which in turns informs the selection of the service response or policy intervention. 

  2. Personalised Experiences – Delight with services according to needs and wants

    It is perhaps a stretch to use the word “delight” when describing customer experiences within the social security system. However, delightful experiences should be a design objective, which are possible when the service response is targeted within the Goldilocks Zone.

    Not having to do anything to claim a benefit or being left alone when in full compliance with obligations can be a delightful experience. A customer service officer taking the time to reach out to someone feeling vulnerable can be a delightful experience.

    Delight is a function of where the service response falls as people experience a life event or behaviour changing incident. It is not so much the experience itself that matters, it is where the experience sits according to a person’s Goldilocks Zone that matters most.

  3. Applied Intelligence – Leverage technology to create delightful experiences

    Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are blurring the automation boundary as they touch complex decision support.

    Delightful experiences are achieved through the application of AI and machine learning to tailor business processes according to risk informed by customer genomics.

    Customers can be delighted when applied intelligence informs a proactive response that is social outcome focused. A proactive response through applied intelligence recognises that some situations are inherently complex and the best intervention may involve little or no technology at all.

  4. Dynamic Evaluation - Making sure you are getting it right and making changes

    Digital data sourced from across the social services ecosystem and managed in an ethical manner is the evidence base for real-time evaluation.

    With applied intelligence, outcomes are monitored with the aim to keep the service response just right as people’s circumstances and some customer genomic attributes change over time.

    The aim of applied intelligence is to embed the human element where and when it delivers tangible value for customers and the agency. Real-time measurement and analysis of the effectiveness of applied intelligence closes the loop from customer genomics to delightful experiences and better outcomes.

    Bearing down on the Goldilocks Zone requires an agile mindset from policy development through program design to service delivery. The good news is there are large cohorts where people’s individual Goldilocks Zones are largely similar. Applied intelligence enables mass personalisation to occur at the point of delivery. Everyone can then feel delighted by their just right experience.

    Is finding the Goldilocks zone important to your agency? To learn more about how finding the Goldilocks zone can help you achieve better outcomes for people, please read our latest thinking on or contact me directly.

See this post on LinkedIn: Getting Your Bearings for the Goldilocks Zone

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