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At gov.uk, you can find 10 simple yet effective design principles. These look like a great summary and summarise the most important things to think about when thinking digital services.

There are a lot of nice details in the choice of guidelines, and also in their wording (be consistent, not uniform for example). I particularly like number 8 – build digital services, not websites. This, for me could be number 1 on the list, because it has an overall importance. I talk more and more to government institutions that seem to be going into the same dead end as commercial companies did several years ago – focus upon one digital touch-point. Unless public sector services think customer journeys and orchestration of multiple touch-points, then we are going to get a whole load of websites for self service that will work reasonably, but quickly lose relevance and coherence. There is a danger that making a service digital can become a palliative rather than a cure. Taking number 8 seriously, has the potential to change this.

As we are now getting towards the end of the new year, then I think a new years resolution for all government service projects should be to do some customer journey mapping and touch-point optimisation. I hope that this resolution is one that actually happens.

I read this interesting blog post (link) on Brand Republic today and it reminded me of a couple of books that I read a long time back. Its always good to be reminded of some good classics. The first was “Good to Great”, (link) which summarised the importance of the infusion of a reason for being into every part of companies such as Sony and HP (those good ideas now seem to be lost). The other was “The Big Idea” (link) which basically said that your service will go nowhere, unless your company has a big idea, understands the importance of this, and can see how a service innovation fits in with this big idea.

This is something quite basic – if you don’t know exactly what your big idea is, then having a social media strategy is a waste of time. In other words, social media are just additional touch-points that are available to you to establish a relationship with your customers and should be treated as such. Looking at social media in isolation, and as anything other than additional touch-points is dangerous, but looking at social media without relating it to the big idea is downright foolish.

Its worthwhile relating this to the brand megaphone model that we developed in the AT-ONE project. The clue lies in the Brand DNA and a clear understanding of this. Any misunderstandings of your Brand DNA, will be amplified a thousand times when you develop a service personality and then translate this to the relevant touch-points. So, when thinking about a social media strategy, I think its worth checking and restating the brand DNA of the company, or to put it another way, reiterating your big idea. In this way you can show how the social media strategy fits with your Brand DNA and the other touchpoints you have. Then, your social media touch-points will fit with other touch-points will fit with your service personality, will fit your brand will fit with your Brand DNA and will all support THE BIG IDEA.

 ‘entering into social media never replaced having a big idea’

This post links three recent things I have been reading. The first is to mention the Experience Based Design (EBD) approach developed by the National Health Service in the UK (link). I have been meaning to write about this for a while, because it seems to be gaining traction in other countries also. I particularly like the way that they have demystified the process, and have worked really hard to empower change at all levels of the organisation. After working in healthcare innovation I see how important it is with change management that empowers at all levels. I think that there is a real area of common ground here, and I hope that the initiative cements itself in the NHS.  I know that it is spreading, and have recently been contacted by several healthcare providers in Norway, who are thinking in the same direction. To me, this looks suspiciously like a serious change that is about to sweep over public services.









Then, to my surprise, I read today (link) that nurses in the NHS will be formally evaluated on their ability to provide compassionate care. I see this as being a significant step in the direction towards experience-centricity since (unfortunately) our on the job performance is often directed towards the formal measures that are used to evaluate us. I really liked the health minister saying that service provision is “not what we do, but how we do it”. I guess she means both, but if the thought of “how we do it” can become something that aligns the health service in the future, then I think the health service is on track to become something very good.

She said her guiding principles would be “care, compassion, commitment and courage”, to which have been added two more “Cs”, competence and communication.

This made me think of the third piece I was going to write about (link). Its a piece from Forbes titled “Do Starbucks Employees Have More Emotional Intelligence than Your Physician”?. It highlights something that I guess challenges the above initiatives, because I think that compassion is considered something for nurses but not for doctors or consultants in the NHS. For some reason, their behaviour and tone of voice are rarely challenged. The article shows how Starbucks employees are trained to handle situations with perceived service breakdown. They use the LATTE approach –

“We Listen to the customer, Acknowledge their complaint, Take action by solving the problem, Thank them, and then Explain why the problem occurred”

Now, if we could conceive something similar for the health service, to help design the service personality, behaviours, tone of voice and ensure this is embodied in all services, then we could come a long way. Maybe LATTE doesn’t really fit healthcare. A good catchy term is needed, but more importantly focus upon the how of healthcare.

If you ever doubt the power and speed of word of mouth, then try doing this…

A bank machine in Scotland was giving out extra money at the weekend, and suddenly a huge queue of people turned up to take cash out. Surprised? Not really. But how often is news like this spread so quickly by word of mouth?

Thanks BBC (link) for reminding me that if its important enough, it will spread very fast.

I found this great interactive info-graphic on the Guardian website (link) as a precursor to the recent US election.

What I really like about it is that it gradually reveals new parts to the story as you scroll down the page. This gives an immersive experience that I’m sure could be copied with success in online services. The integration of text, image, animation together with the user interaction gives a great experience – one that I haven’t seen before. I really wish I knew how they do this.

This is a nice example of what one of my colleagues, Jon Olav Eikenes at AHO, described as navimation (look here for more info and examples). A combination of navigation and animation that together can initiate a strong emotional and experiential bond between the content and the user.

If anybody knows how this is done and can point me to an easy (!) way to do it, I would be grateful. I would like to experiment with it in commercial service provision.

I have just rediscovered visual complexity.com as a useful site for visualisations of various kinds. The site is simple, but the categories make it easy to browse and find useful examples.

Here is an example of corporate connections which I think gives a nice visual representation of sub-brands and their parent organisations.




This is the last of three posts about great stuff over at Smashing magazine. This is from an article about how to create memorable experiences for customers (link). There are some very nice examples, including the one from the hidden heroes exhibition (link).

I recently mentioned the great work being presented over at Smashing magazine regarding Service Personality. To add to this, is this really good piece about tone of voice. This obviously fits together with the personality, and in many ways is part of the embodiment of the personality in different touch-points.

Here, an example from Innocent smoothies:


As I mentioned in the previous post, this fits together with the tone of voice in the brand megaphone model, and is a useful way to work from Brand DNA, through Service Personality to Tone of Voice. This is easier for single touch-points, but as we know, very challenging when all touch-points have to be co-ordinated.

(If you are interested in the service personality research, then you can read about it here and here)

I have been researching Service Personality for several years, so its great to see Smashing magazine presenting great examples of digital touch-point personalities (link). Heres an example from a small comment that comes up when typing in a location. Ahh Prague says so much more than just Prague.


There are loads of good examples presented, and its nice to see that personalities are emerging on digital touch-points.

This also gives me the opportunity to present the branding model we have developed for services as part of the AT-ONE project – the brand megaphone. This shows how the DNA of the service should form the service personality and how this should then influence each and every touch-point along the service journey. We have regularly used actors to enact interactions with the different touch-points as part of the design process. This allows the fine tuning of the customer experience at an early stage of the design process and is definitely worth doing as part of a project.


(If you are interested in the service personality research, then you can read about it here and here)


Thanks to Adrian at AHO for this great pinterest link to lots of journey mapping examples (link).


A great collection of journey maps on pinterest



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