Co-op Digital talks service design at Design Manchester

Today’s the first day of Design Manchester 2017, Manchester’s annual design festival. From today until 22 October, there’ll be talks, exhibitions, workshops, films, fairs and parties across the city celebrating design in its various forms.

The Co-op is sponsoring the festival, and Co-op Digital is running and speaking at several events this year too. We’ll be talking a lot about ‘service design’ – something that’s really relevant to what we do here at Co-op Digital.

Group of people at The Federation for the launch of Design Manchester this morning, 11 October.

What do we mean by ‘service design’?

A ‘service’ is something that helps someone do something. Co-op services help our customers and members to save money; give to local causes; find out where their local Co-op store is and when they’re open; make a will or organise a funeral. These are just a few.

Co-op Digital has helped our Funeralcare team to give time back to funeral colleagues, so that they can spend more time with families when dealing with bereavement by putting parts of these services online which has made things simpler for users.

For businesses, service design is an holistic, end-to-end design approach that takes into consideration business, customer and colleague needs and creates shared value.

Service design is about collaboration and this is reflected in the events we’re involved in at Design Manchester.

Here’s a round-up.

Service design jam days

Service designer and user researcher Kathryn Grace from Co-op Digital is leading a two-part, co-created event on consecutive Saturdays. The first ‘jam’ day will be an introduction to the importance of service design in a city. Different companies and organisations from Manchester will be sharing skills and their approaches to service design.

The second jam day will be an opportunity to put into practice some of the things we learnt from the first day. The aim of the second day will be to develop a service within 24 hours.  

Read more about the service design jams

We have a great design community in Manchester and we’re privileged to help showcase those in service design. 

Panel discussion: Service design and Manchester

Technology Engagement Lead Emer Coleman and Co-op’s Group Design Director Ben Terrett will be part of the panel to discuss how cities grow and evolve. The panel will specifically be talking about how Manchester can attract people and businesses that can develop and maintain vital services that make a city work and make it an enjoyable and easy place to live in.

Read more about the Service design and Manchester event

Design city reframed

Co-op Digital’s Lawrence Kitson will be speaking about service design as a team sport. He’ll explore how we can make a difference and affect change by co-operatively designing great end-to-end services that solve user needs and provide shared value.

Read more about the Design city reframed event

Everyone’s welcome (not just designers!)

Yep, this is Design Manchester so we’re expecting to see a lot of designers over the fortnight. But our events are open to all. If you have an interest in how Manchester’s future is being shaped and how cities ‘work’, these events will be of interest to you. We’re mostly aiming to open up discussion and get people talking about, and sharing ideas about, the design of services across Manchester.

Kathryn Grace
Service design and user research

Gail Mellows
Designer

Getting aligned with a Membership service map

We launched our new Membership in September 2016. It’s a really massive and complex area of work and spans all 5 Co-op businesses from Food to Legal Services; Insurance to Funeralcare and Co-op Electrical. Our role at Co-op Digital is to support those 5 areas by making stuff as simple as possible for potential members to join and existing members to get stuff done and join in.

Anyway, since we launched, the Co-op Digital Membership team has been working hard to improve the online and offline experience for members and potential new members.

A ‘journey map’ for product teams

Six months ago, product manager Derek asked our team, plus Matt Edgar from Stick People, to map out the granular interactions of the membership experience on a wall in Angel Square. The digital team uses this to prioritise and keep track of the work they’re doing. On a weekly basis, they gather around the wall and update it with work in progress, problems, research and data.

It’s working well and gives the digital team a good level of autonomy.

user journey map on the wall in 1 Angel Square

However, because there are lots of people working on Membership who don’t necessarily work in digital, this level of detail isn’t understood by everyone. (Which is ok, digital isn’t everyone’s expertise). The map is also stuck to a wall so it’s not accessible to some of the wider team.

So we figured we needed a separate but related, digital as well as physical, higher level service map. It would include all the work on membership, not just the online part of it, and it’d be accessible to everyone. This way, absolutely everybody who needs to know, can be in the know.

Different user, different service map

So that teams and stakeholders can get an overall view of the activity that’s going on, Lawrence and I started mapping out the framework for a service map, or blueprint, to help everyone see the end-to-end experience, both online and offline.

Using this framework as a foundation we held a workshop with the delivery teams, the marketing team and the data science team to add what we know. And what we don’t know.

delivery teams and supporting functions adding to the map

The Membership service map covers everything from when a customer becomes aware of the membership proposition, through to the sign-up process, earning and then spending rewards, choosing a local cause and voting at the AGM.

photograph of Membership service map.

The purpose of the high-level service map is to:

  • see all the steps within the end-to-end journey
  • highlight what we know about user behaviour and service at each stage (quantitative and qualitative)
  • highlight colleague and touchpoint interactions at each stage
  • highlight metrics and data we track at each stage
  • show all the known work being carried out at each stage

The service map will add value because it will:

  • give us a single source of truth
  • make it easy for stakeholders to understand membership and engage with it
  • make our work visible to the rest of the organisation
  • show pain points, opportunities, recommendations for testing
  • help teams see what other sub-teams are working on and work together effectively
  • be the focus of membership service decision making in the future

Service mapping at the Co-op: it’s early days

Service design is a fairly new way of thinking and working at the Co-op but there are plenty of examples around the business of how useful this role can be.

The Funeralcare digital service uses a service blueprint to map the complex business of arranging a funeral from the colleague, logistical and customer viewpoints. And the Leading the Way team has mapped out the overall colleague, customer and product experience in stores.

What now?

Going forward we’ll use the map to monitor the service and make changes. The team will continue to work with the wider business to improve the service. 

Jack Fletcher
Interaction designer

Helping Funeralcare rethink how we deliver our at-need funeral service

Hello. I’m Andy Pipes. I joined the new CoopDigital team in February as a product manager. Product managers design and build digital services that help Co-op customers, members and colleagues solve real problems.

CoopDigital is helping the Funeralcare business rethink how we deliver our at-need funeral service. The funeral business is a care service at its heart. It’s a traditional industry. It’s safe to say the internet age hasn’t really influenced its practices and delivery mechanisms.

The Co-op is the UK’s largest funeral business, arranging 90,000 funerals each year. We look after families in real distress. We play a key part in helping communities deal with loss.

I’m proud to have met and and work with some wonderful colleagues from around the funeral business. They do an amazing job caring for our clients, despite having to fill in lots of paperwork and struggle with technology that can sometimes get in the way rather than help them do their jobs.

CoopDigital is working to design a whole new service for everyone involved in Funeralcare. One designed to make these processes simpler. Do more on behalf of colleagues. Communicate better with clients. And we’re designing it alongside funeral directors, ambulance staff, call handlers, and funeral home managers.

This is Robert Maclachlan. Robert’s the new National Operations Director for Funeralcare. He’s been in the post just a bit longer than I have. His vision for a new operation for Funeralcare couldn’t be clearer: Give time back to Funeral Directors to spend with clients.

Meet Hayley. She’s one of dozens of funeral directors the CoopDigital  team has met as part of our ongoing research. Hayley can spend six hours sorting out admin for every funeral she organises. Filling in forms. Checking on vehicles. Ringing round to find the right coffin, flowers.Confirming who’s officiating, who’s driving, who’s bearing the coffin.

Picture of Hayley a funeral director holding lots of paperwork

In Hayley’s hands is her “system”. It’s a plastic folder full of all the paper forms she’ll fill in for each funeral. It works for her. We’ve met other colleagues with similar home-grown systems. But every piece of information buried on paper in that folder is a piece of information a digital service could act on.

So there are some big problems we want to solve. Above all, we want to create one simple to use system so colleagues can organise a funeral from the first call right to the last detail.  Designed to accommodate the fact that every funeral that our colleagues conduct is unique.

The CoopDigital team practices ‘user-centered design’. This means we listen to and observe the people who will use the service. Our research team visits our colleagues in the field constantly to make sure we’re able to empathise with their concerns and challenge our assumptions about how we’d solve their problems. Three Funeralcare employees work full-time with our designers, researchers and developers in Manchester. An analyst from the Funeralcare IT team has joined us, so that we can introduce user-centred design and agile delivery to the in-house technology squad over time. We’re working together every day to help get the service just right.

Week by week we tackle a different area to work on, from receiving the first call announcing a death, through taking the deceased into our care, to booking transport, ordering coffins, and sending confirmation details to clients right the way through to creating an invoice and tracking payment.

On the walls of our workspace, we build out a picture of the emerging service. For each development period (a ‘Sprint’), we start with a clear picture of the user needs we’re focusing on. Then we sketch out a “flow” of the goals we’re expecting those users to be able to achieve after we’ve done that week. For instance, in the first week, we wanted someone receiving a call about a death to be able to log the most important details easily, and retrieve them later. Beneath the flow diagram, we list a few things that we’re most interested in learning as we test the service with colleagues in the field.

When we’ve built a small part of the service we take it out and test it in our funeral homes to see what the people who will end up using it think. If something’s not working we go back and change it and we’ll keep doing this until we get it just right.

We’re now 17 weeks into our journey. Here’s what we’ve made so far.

First Call service that logs the important details about a death, and alerts an ambulance team to take the deceased into our care.

Funeral Arrangement service that helps Funeral Directors capture all the clients’ decisions, plays back costs to the client, and keeps everybody updated about all the things that are still to be completed.

A hearse booking system, staff diary and staff assignment service.

A coffin stock control system, and a way for clients to browse the existing coffin range.

An audit system that works towards complete transparency about every important action in the service; a clear chain of care and traceability.

Various dashboards to show important “health check” measures for the business. Like busy times of the day for calls, and the % of contacts who are still waiting for an arrangement visit to take place.

Since we work fast, test often and iterate constantly, we understand that what we produce might not be right first time. Some of the areas of the service I am screenshotting above have been revised five or six times during the process.

But already we’re seeing how the service we’ve built will save time, do helpful things on behalf of colleagues, and present Funeralcare staff with useful  information in a way they haven’t seen before.

As we start to trial the service alongside the existing process in a real funeral home over the summer, we’ll see what’s working best, what still needs tightening up, and where we need to really focus next.

I’ll report back on where we take the service over the coming months.

A side note

If you’re interested in doing work like ours, please get in touch. We’re hiring more product managers, designers and developers to join our growing, dedicated team.

Andy Pipes