Designing an ideal online journey for housing repairs

We have been carrying out a lot of research into housing repairs as part of a discovery project we are working on across 4 authorities (Southwark, Lewisham Homes, Lincoln and Gravesham) and we have finally designed an ideal journey (well the flow) for housing repairs.

It’s taken a couple of months to get to this point, so I thought I’d share how we got here. A lot of research was necessary, especially as we are working with 4 very different authorities.

We started by visiting each contact centre and spending the day listening to customers’ calls. This proved to be one of the most valuable research methods for us. Not only did we hear what the customer’s issues and frustrations were, but we also could see the issues and frustrations that the contact centre agents were having. We attached a short interview to the end of each call to get the resident’s feedback on the repairs process. Did they know they could (kind of) report these issues online? What other things do they do online?

We then shadowed repairs operatives and planners to understand how they do their jobs and what issues and frustrations they have.

We then mapped out the online customer journey and identified all the pain points that users go through when using the online service, then analysed the usability of these services. Southwark and Lewisham have a much higher online uptake than Lincoln and Gravesham, but then Gravesham and Lincoln offer a ‘John Lewis’ incredible phone service… so why would the resident ever go online?

And we also carried out face to face interviews  —  we initially started asking questions about their experience with using the repairs service, but quickly changed our line of questioning when we realised that a lot of residents go online a lot… just not for council services. We then started to investigate what types of things they do online and what devices they use. Pretty much all the things they do online offer instant gratification and they are constantly kept up to date. They are used to good online services!

We also gathered lots of data… which we’ve analysed, and carried out research within the industry (and some outside of the industry) to understand what has worked well and not so well.

We then created personas for each authority including tenants, planners, call centre agents and repairs operatives. This enabled us to created user stories and identify the user needs. Once we had the user needs we started to design our ideal online journey… this started as user flow which we workshopped with all authorities and got lots of great feedback.

So we now have a flow, but we wanted to get a feel for how this would actually work, so we quickly turned this into a paper prototype… this identified user needs that we hadn’t included in the user flow, for example reporting multiple repairs  —  so we made some changes.

We then turned this into clickable wireframes, so that we could test this flow… and we changed it some more.  So here we are. We invite you all to play with this and give us feedback and comments. (Please note; we have only designed the flow, not the content and diagnosis options).

We’ll publish our full research findings next week.

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