Three years ago my Grandma died. She had been suffering from dementia for the previous three years and it was harrowing to watch her forget her own family, as well as become more and more dependent on her carers for simple things like feeding herself or using the toilet.
Alzheimer’s is a dreadful disease and one which affects not only the person profoundly, but also their loved ones. That’s why when it came to working with the Alzheimer’s Society* I jumped at the chance to do anything I could to help them in their mission to see a world without dementia.
*If you’re not familiar with them or if you are looking for information and support, I highly recommend you go visit their website: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/
Over the last couple of years, we’ve been supporting the Society by uncovering the experiences people have going through a diagnosis journey and various opportunities to support people during that time. More recently, we’ve conducted a series of Service Blueprinting workshops as part of a wider programme of Service Design, to help the Society improve its service offerings.
If you’re unfamiliar with Service Design (or Service Blueprinting), then quite simply Service Design is the process of designing the services customers use and interact with.
Most organisations offer their clients a tonne of different products and services. But many still fail to consider how these products, services and the interactions all work together to support the client in meeting their goals. The reality is, clients interact with multiple products and services (often all in one session) and it’s here that user experiences quickly become apparent.
And this is where we step in.
With Service Design, organisations are able to collectively evaluate, shape and communicate what services are offered, how users interact with them and how best to reshape or tweak them in order to meet the user’s needs.It’s all about crafting not only the customer experience, but the business experience too.
One valuable tool that supports us in our Service Design efforts is the ‘Service Blueprint’. It is a strategic, yet functional, tool that visually communicates all the elements of a service in enough detail for the entire business (staff and stakeholders) to understand, implement and maintain.
Returning to the Alzheimer’s Society, Service Blueprinting has been a real eye opener for them who, to their credit, completely threw themselves into the process. The initial workshop saw numerous members of staff, volunteers and senior stakeholders from right across the Society, all working together to detail the customer and staff actions, the touchpoints or interactions between them and how complex systems and operations are all orchestrated to deliver it.
What resulted was an acute awareness and deeper understanding of how people interact with the Society’s vast array of content and services. They don’t do so in isolation but rather traverse and move between them. And it was this that really cemented the necessity to break down existing organisational silos. Everyone right across the organisation needed to work much more closely together in order to co-author the customer experience, whether that’s content creation to copywriting, marketing and promotion to training. I can safely say they ‘get it’. Crafting an outstanding customer experience can only be done by also crafting an outstanding business experience - they’re inextricably intertwined and symbiotic.
There are numerous next steps, including evolving the Service Blueprint further and, more importantly, to action them across the Society. But what’s encouraging is to see how seriously, open mindedly and collectively the Alzheimer’s Society is approaching their very own journey of transformation. I leave you with an excerpt from the Society’s own bold and inspiring 5 year plan, which I believe lies at the heart of why they’ve taken to Service Design and the rewards to be gained from it, like a duck to water:
We will stand with people affected by dementia, from pre-diagnosis to end of life. This begins with listening to people with dementia and their carers and putting them at the heart of how we make decisions. Only then can we deliver our strategy.
We commit to working in partnership with people affected by dementia, making sure they are involved in setting our priorities and the approach we take, from board level to operations on the ground.
Taken from: Alzheimer's Society's strategy 2017-2022
If you'd like to find out how service blueprinting could help your organisation, I'd love to chat. You can get in contact by emailing: email@example.com
There’s a lot written about Service Design and Service Blueprints. If you want to read more about them, I suggest taking a look at these sources: