A growing number of commercial organizations are embracing service design—the discipline that blends art and science, data and creativity to optimize the user journey across multiple touchpoints and over time. But commercial businesses aren’t the only organizations that can benefit from service design. Mission-driven federal agencies have an opportunity to use service design to craft new and completely reimagined existing services—driving better citizen engagement while supporting improved outcomes.
Reimagining service delivery demands rethinking not only of physical and digital channels but also of the processes, systems and culture underlying service provision. Service design crafts experiences across multiple touchpoints: online, on the phone and in person. And it requires a holistic effort that may involve a range of activities—from customizing the user experience for multiple personas to conducting new training in empathy.
Service delivery and customer experience are top of mind for most commercial organizations. They want to “delight” their customers, and they’re re-engineering processes and systems to make it all possible. And while it’s hard work, it pales in comparison to the complexity that the federal government faces every day.
That’s because commercial companies serve only a portion of the population. But federal agencies must deliver services to a much broader base of citizens—including the poor and the aged, those with physical and mental illnesses, as well as children who can’t advocate for themselves.
Service design provides a crucial means of addressing key challenges and improving experience across a diverse set of customers and stakeholders. It’s a vital tool not only for commercial organizations but also—indeed, especially—for mission-driven agencies.
Why has service design become such an imperative for federal agencies? Part of the answer is what Accenture calls “liquid expectations.” Consumers do not give government a “pass” when it comes to the quality of their online experiences. In fact, Accenture research has shown that people now hold the public sector to the same—if not higher—standard as banks, retailers and other private-sector providers.
What’s more, consumers increasingly expect to customize their experiences and to have real visibility into the process and status of any interaction they have with an agency. And why wouldn’t they? They get that type of instant feedback when they’re dealing with experienced leaders in the private sector—whether arranging transportation, monitoring their activity levels or making purchases online.
Federal agencies can use a variety of methodologies to redesign services and experiences—helping drive citizen satisfaction, user adoption and, ultimately, mission outcomes.
The most effective service design approaches focus on setting goals in terms of specific business outcomes and then using ethnographic research and other innovative techniques to gain an unprecedented understanding of customers. With those insights, teams can apply human-centered design principles to design a new experience. Following creation of a detailed service blueprint, teams then develop and iterate prototypes—continually optimizing tools and resources to deliver experiences that are personalized and consistent across interaction types and over time.