Optimising digital service delivery

Aged care providers can improve their digital channels by applying human-centred design principles, writes Michael Burke.

Digital channels are an increasingly important part of the service delivery mix. So how do we ensure these channels reflect values like compassion and inclusivity, with genuine effectiveness?

As we all pass through important life stages, digital channels are becoming an essential conduit to access information, support, and services.

So the importance of understanding people’s needs and designing solutions to fit the human experience – rather than a technology-first approach – is a critical step in delivering value through positive customer experiences.

For all its potential and increasing necessity, technology can be daunting. Not everyone has the same appetite for it. It’s not unusual for someone to begrudgingly use a website only so they can find a phone number to speak with a real person.

For technology to succeed, we need to make sure it’s imbued with the kind of human qualities that people look for in that phone call or a face-to-face chat. It’s not always in the surface details – although those play a role – but in providing an experience that reflects a customer’s needs in a way they can relate to and feel heard.

We’re trying to simultaneously empower and reassure our audiences as they navigate important life stages.

We know that giving people what they need to make informed decisions encourages them to be more proactive and can improve independence. We know that, when done right, digital services can simplify challenges and break down barriers.

So, as communities are being asked to increase their reliance on digital services, how do we give the wider community more confidence that their needs will be met?

We believe that the answer is in the application of human-centred design (HCD).

HCD is a field of practice where anything from physical products to service delivery and digital experiences are developed in close collaboration with – and tested by – the community and the users. It’s a process of testing, learning and continuous improvement supported by customer testing, data, and analytics. 

Applying human-centred design

By asking the customer what they want and collaborating on the solution we can be more confident of the outcomes. We are not the arbiters of what is right or correct.

It’s only in speaking with our audience that we can understand the nuances of their situations, their burning priorities and the hesitations they face.

It means speaking early and often with customers. It’s about:

  • having conversations – humans helping other humans

  • listening to feedback, understanding context, empathising

  • understanding what obstacles they face and what a successful outcome looks like for that person.

It’s also about rapid prototyping, validating and optimising, which means:

  • starting low-fidelity and testing ideas with customers

  • testing that the details make sense from the usability of the interface to specific language choices

  • prospective users can test on remote software in their homes, giving authenticity.

Following these processes sets up the essential foundation for addressing our customers’ needs, but it’s still possible to arrive at a poor solution.

If we were to simply apply the feedback we receive from user research literally, we could end up with something that has every option for every person, but in a way that doesn’t help them make sense of it.

When we talk about helping people be informed, it’s not enough to simply upload all the information we have and say, “All the answers you need are in there somewhere. Good luck.”