At Newcastle City Council we have adopted an agile approach to developing digital services for our customers. We don’t, however, have a consistent process to receive, analyse and act upon our users using Beta public services. This view is shared with collaborative partners, North of Tyne group.
Having a consistent approach would allow us to better understand our users and how they interact with our newly built processes. This in turn would mean we can iterate more effectively, delivering better and more user centric improvements on the services we build.
Objectives we want to achieve in discovery are:
* to understand the best way to capture users feedback
* to understand how to encourage and engage users to give their feedback
* to develop a way we can demonstrate to those giving feedback that we have listened and acted upon their feedback.
* to develop a service design pattern that could be applied to allow the capture of feedback, which could be applicable to any customer centric digital service
The project will take an Agile approach to delivery. Led by Deliver Manager resource from Newcastle City Council’s Digital First team and equivalent resource support from North of Tyne councils. Deliverable goals throughout the project will be established, MoSCoW’d and priortised in sprint kick off sessions. Regular stand ups will be used to see progress and identify blockers. The project will be split over sprints (see below), that will end with show and tells which can be recorded to share with the wider group. Sprints will end with retrospectives to evaluate successes and identify improvements. To assist in the communication and allow conversations and planning between the project team we will use tools such as Microsoft Teams, inc. planner / Skype
21 Dec18 Project kick off meeting, Formalised agreement with project partners
18 Jan 19 Info gathering and data analysis from project councils, Baselining and data gathering completed
25 Jan 19 Team established, people allocated to project, Team complete GDS Academy training, Recruit external resource i.e. user researcher(s), Team fully formed and ready to start Discovery activities
15 Feb 19, Build hypotheses for user research regarding “how to capture user feedback”, Build hypothesis for user research regarding “how to encourage user feedback”, Plan user research to test hypotheses, User research planned
25 Feb 19, Carry out UR, User research, completed, Research Report
1 Mar 19 Analysis of “how to capture user feedback” research, Analysis of “how to encourage user feedback”, Research of how other “Agile organisations hear the customer”, Analysis report of user research
8 Mar 19 Prototype service design pattern designed for user feedback, Prototype process developed
15 Mar 19 User testing of prototype process, Analysis of user testing, Analysis report of user testing
25 Mar 19 Write up and share the project findings: Business case User research report Recommendation report
Current cost of the problem
Newcastle City Council have invested in delivering digital services through an Agile delivery approach. Difficulty has come from fully hearing the user, helping the user understand the concept of a “beta” service, and overcoming their misunderstanding that a “beta” service is still being iterated upon and therefore they can have a direct and positive impact on the service.
Often feedback received isn’t constructive or fails to identify the true user issue so it is difficult to compare and iterate against the user need it was designed for. Also there is concern we may only be hearing those who shout the loudest whilst also missing vital feedback from those who fail to successfully use the service and “walk away”.
If a digital offering isn’t the best way for a user to interact with us then they will revert to more expensive transaction types – as per SOCITM, face to face and phone are vastly more costly than digital.
Benefits for service users
Because we will have a better understanding of the user issue and volumes of users having that issue it will have a positive impact on what should be developed and improved. This means a better user experience for the service user, which will be iterated upon.
Benefits for service providers
Encourages users to reuse the service if they believe it is will be improved by understanding that it will be iterated upon. The improvement of digital services will help lead users to choose the digital offering over more expensive means engaging with the council – for example face to face or phone. We will also benefit from ensuring resource is allocated to value adding activities and we can be confident to move on from those parts that are “good enough”. Good UX reduces friction and frustration from services which users may not be happy engaging with to start with, for example Council Tax or Parking fines
We’re a project of 2 partners, with possibility to utilise resource from authorities who’ve not yet signed the digital declaration. Our group represents both city and non-metropolitan councils so our user base is wide and varied, so findings will be relevant across most LAs. Collaboration will primarily be user research, and findings will be shared through Microsoft Teams. Show and Tells will be recorded so they can be shared with other LAs – we will also actively receive feedback from LAs outside of the project and allow this to inform any gaps in our research. Our research hypothesis will come from gathering financial, quantitative and qualitative information from project partners. This will be expanded to capture information from other government organisations or LAs, as well as the charity/volunteer sector. We will also approach private service organisations to understand how they capture user feedback, prioritise it and iterate upon it – to see if we can learn any lessons.
We will produce a benefits case that will identify successful and unsuccessful methods that have been tried and tested in other organisations. We will include methods that have been successful in engaging users and types of incentives
User Research Report
Throughout the project we will publish findings of our user research, through blogs and sharing our show and tells with the wider MHCLG, with a final piece that will take the form of a final summary report. User research will be done using tried and tested GDS templates to allow consistent and comparable outcomes.
Designed prototype service design map
A suggested service design pattern will be created during discovery, which can then be applied to an Alpha project to test how well the pattern engages users to give their feedback, methods of feedback and how feedback is managed to allow prioritisation.
Summary report and recommendations
The final report will offer a recommendation of a service pattern design for capturing user feedback. It will also identify different methods of capturing user feedback. This will also make recommendations on how this could be tested against in an Alpha project.
There are two pieces of user research required:
* Establish the most user friendly ways for users to give their feedback to our beta services
* Identify ways to increase feedback from users, in a constructive fashion
User research will focus on adults who engage with the authority through digital means, and if identifiable those who struggle with digital.
Objectives of the research
* Do our users understand alpha, beta stages of development? What is their concept of an iterative approach? If not how to explain this
* How can we better capture their experiences in beta phase, to enable us to iterate effectively and meet user needs?
* Hypothetically our most valuable users are those that fail to use the service, how do we capture this?
* How can we drive up the feedback received from users, and ensure that it is constructive
* Access to GDS user research labs and research expertise
* Access to the GDS training courses, particularly at our local venue Longbenton
* Assistance in sharing our findings to a wider LA audience
* Support and guidance from the wider MCHLG group