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Digital inclusion and service delivery in a post-covid world – workshop insights

Published by CW (Cambridge Wireless)

Workshop insights from CW and Akendi's exploration of 'Adjusting business service delivery to a changed world'.

On the 30th of April, Akendi and CW successfully facilitated an online discussion on “Adjusting business service delivery to a changed world”. Participants enjoyed two short inspiring talks (now on YouTube), by Marek Pawlowski (MEX) and Tara O’Doherty (Akendi) followed by a number of themed round-table discussions hosted on Akendi's Discord server.

This blog shares the highlights from three of the most insightful topics.

Leo Poll, President of Akendi UK, chaired the “Reinventing service design” debate. Here’s his summary:

Quite a few things have been written in the past few weeks about how people have now become more tolerant of remote video meetings. Whilst no replacement for face-2-face meetings, the advantages of not having to travel and the low costs combined with the realisation that 'it is not as bad as we thought' means that a lot of these types of meetings are here to stay.

COVID also seems to have accelerated the transformation into a cashless society which many will also view as a good thing.

But how about the digital “have-not’s”? Well, they remain the “have-not's” but now they are more visible than ever. Banks are making an effort to help elderly people to switch to doing their banking online, but it is not help with the existing systems that they need, rather it is systems that are, finally, designed for them, rather than forced on them. You could also argue that it has made the need for specifically designed elderly digital services finally visible. 

This is what COVID does, it makes previously ignored needs visible. For organisations looking to introduce new services post-Covid this is very good news. Take people who are now helping their elderly neighbours by doing a bit of shopping. It is likely that these elderly people always needed a bit of help with shopping but didn't want to ask. Covid now makes it okay to accept help, and it highlights a general need for help that keeps the pride of the recipient intact. 

In short, if you are looking for opportunities post-Covid then all you need to do is:

  • Open your eyes
  • See what people are doing to (temporarily) solve that need
  • Flip the solution and define what need it really solves
  • Assess whether this need was invisible/neglected before Covid
  • Develop a user centred solution that fits like a glove post-Covid

For Marek Pawlowski, Founder of MEX conference and podcast, the main take-aways from his discussion on “Online vs. face-to-face” are:

Identify the unique virtues of the enforced shift to online. Don't settle for simply replicating face-to-face, think about how you can make something better than it was before.

Use a process of atomisation to re-evaluate interactions which previously took place face-to-face and break them down into their individual goals: the jobs to be done. For instance, something like a big trade exhibition may not be replicable as a single entity, but could spin-off into multiple new, specialised services better fit for purpose.

Consider how the look and feel of trust differs in online versus face-to-face interactions, especially for older customers? How does this relate to the need for clear rules of etiquette and cultural sensitivity? (there was a working group on this at one of our MEX events a few years back - findings here).

Currently many attempts to replicate face-to-face scenarios - from pub quizzes to listening to bands - require users to apply an ad-hoc mashup of tools and platforms (e.g. combining WhatsApp, Zoom, YouTube and others into a single game evening) rather than adopting a single, over-arching new service.

Finally, Philip Watson, Senior UX Designer at Akendi, summarises the “Online learning systems” theme:

It’s clear that online learning is going to play a bigger part in everyone’s lives in a post-covid world. How, where and why remains to be seen.

As half the world gets to grips with working from home, online learning and the associated systems to enable it have taken the spotlight. They have become a critical part of delivering training, education and development opportunities, both in the workplace and in educational settings.

Yes, you can record one Zoom workshop and make it available to an unlimited number of people for no extra effort. Trainers of all stripes should be doing this more to reduce bottlenecks and improve revenue streams, of course.

What is the other side of this see-saw? If all training is recorded rather than live, how do we ensure effectiveness? Are there things that cannot be translated to a digital medium?

Undoubtedly the future will hold a mix of pre-recorded, live and face-to-face learning and education. Getting the balance right, so that trainers and trainees are all well equipped to succeed, will be key to the sustainability of this approach.

What to do next?

Want to join the discussion? Follow Akendi  and CW on LinkedIn to find out about future events like this.

Want to learn more? If you are thinking of developing services for a post-covid world then why not sign up for Akendi's Service Transformation course.

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