Service Design Award 2017: the finalists
SDN has announced this year's Service Design Award finalists!
A Glasgow School of Art (GSA) MEDes student, BDes and MIDes new graduate team partnered with the new Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) design team for four months during 2015-16. The student team developed the company’s emerging user-centred design process and integrated a future forecasting methodology. They conducted in depth user research into Generation Y and designed service concepts, personas and a future world context that continue to impact the user-centricity of RBS projects.
The success of the project resulted in an innovative, industry-academic educational model being adopted by the GSA Design Department. For instance, design methods developed by the student team for RBS were integrated into the GSA Product Design curriculum. In addition, the relationship with RBS was continued and strengthened in a second collaborative project between the RBS design team and a new group of MEDes students in 2017.
The Royal Bank of Scotland is a UK centred bank with over 1,900 UK branches2 and an international customer base of over 30 million.3 Following the 2008 bailout RBS recognised the challenge they faced in rebuilding public trust in their services, and subsequently established a stronger focus on user-centred design to improve customer satisfaction. RBS developed a new strategy to be the number one bank in the UK for customer advocacy and trust by 2020.
Having been shown examples of MEDes projects, RBS decided an academic-corporate partnership with the GSA Design Department could be an effective way of bringing different design approaches and new methodologies into their process. In addition, they expected a collaboration would upskill RBS employees and expose them to innovative ways of tackling design problems.
The RBS design team admitted there was a lack of understanding in the company about the behaviour and attitudes of young people from Generation Y aged 16-25 towards banking. The collaboration with a student team provided an opportunity to work with Generation Y designers, and gain insight into this important customer segment through user research.
The students explored future trends alongside user interviews in order to project how Generation Y values and needs could develop in the next 10 years and beyond. Close collaboration between the GSA and RBS design teams during the project enhanced the RBS team’s empathy for young people, as well as progressed their understanding of user-centred design and brand strategy.
Within the overarching topic of Generation Y the student team researched four thematic sub-briefs from RBS, called domains, which were related to Generation Y and banking. These domains were: New Values, Safety and Security, Saving and Spending and Data. Each domain brief apart from New Values was focused on the matter level interactions which take place between users and the bank. The students led a collaborative reframing of these sub-briefs to also focus on the more value oriented and abstract, meta-level of each topic as their research indicated that ethics and values are an important part of understanding and designing better services for the target group.
The GSA team approached the project by dividing it into four phases over four months.
Outputs: Interview posters, STEP (Social, Technological, Economic and Political) trend cards and evidence-based, future-forecasting approach
1.1 Desk Research
The GSA design team researched current and emerging trends relating to banking, Generation Y and the four domain areas. Key indicators and insights were framed in a timeline from pre-2000 to 2050 in order to identify gaps in the research and visualise which trends were current and which were emerging. The timeline was divided into macro trends which are global or national and micro trends which includes weak signals or counter trends. Meet-ups, workshops and digital tools were used to share progress and exchange feedback with the RBS designers.
1.2 STEP Cards
To categorise trends and communicate insights about Generation Y in a way that is usable and relatable for RBS, the GSA design team created communication artefacts at each stage of their research. The first communication artefacts were 100 visual STEP cards. These were based on the PESTEL model5 - a framework used by marketeers to analyse external factors which could impact an organisation.
Depending on the data and number of indicators, the STEP cards can be divided into trends that are; past, current (2015-16), near future (2017-2029) or far future (2030-50+). This helps RBS map out developing trends that could impact their services, as well as explore possible and preferable futures.6
1.3. Ethnographic Research and User Interviews:
Each domain group developed qualitative research techniques to explore their domain theme and validate insights with 43 Generation Y users. To identify themes, interviewees were mapped according to important factors that affected their relationship towards banking such as their stage of life or financial stability. It became clear interviewee insights provided additional evidence to reinforce the trends outlined in the STEP cards. The GSA team therefore decided to use the STEP cards to create an evidence-based approach to future-forecasting and a red thread throughout the project.
A collaborative, week-long workshop was developed with RBS to take place at RBS Headquarters and other sites. This involved contextual exploration and observation of the RBS working culture and design methods, as well as a student-run persona co-design session. The GSA student team conveyed research findings, such as the user assumption that banks “gamble” their money. Understanding the foundations for user mistrust and misinformation helped the GSA team shape service concepts and strategic design directions from the brand (meta) level to the interaction (matter) level.
The GSA team gained insight into company constraints and the level of service design experience in the RBS team. Working in context with RBS enabled the students to understand what aspects of the RBS approach should be developed and which tools would be most enriching, as well as how best to communicate their research to the wider organisation.
Outputs: Future users (tribe chiefs), future world concept for 2025, future services, communication artefacts and provotypes (provocation artefacts)
2.1 Future Users - Tribes and Chiefs: The GSA and RBS design teams redefined personas as future focused “tribes”. Tribes are clusters of interviews with commonalities between their values and life situations. Tribe chiefs were created - an archetypal user for each tribe group. Both teams felt this reframing was important because the tribe chiefs were developed from the GSA team’s own method; they are future oriented, whilst being grounded in 43 user interviews and future trends research. This level of in depth, quantitative and qualitative research had also not been present in personas that RBS had been using previously.
2.2 Future world 2025 Concept:
In a workshop facilitated by two GSA new graduates, the GSA design team utilised futures research methods, visualisation techniques and metaphors to deconstruct current belief systems and values evidenced in their research. They then rebuilt these layers in line with possible future scenarios, indicated by trends and user research insights, to create a conceptual world context for 2025. For instance, government welfare which users currently view as a “safety net” was reframed as a “trampoline” that helps users spring back into society. This is based on indicators for one possible future which would involve a shift towards a decentralised and localised UK Government.
Holistically, the world visualised and described four spheres of influence from the STEP cards; social, political, economic and technological. The future world is a way to translate research outcomes into a relatable and actionable format for RBS - revealing strategic design opportunities and contextual scenarios for the Generation Y tribe chiefs. The world visualisation is one of the most influential outputs of the project, to the extent that it is helping to shape the evolution of the RBS design approach:
“We have made heavy use of the world poster describing the UK in 2025. It is displayed in prominent locations and teams are encouraged to refer to it when working on projects. This has helped to remind people that of the broad range of developments and trends that influence how customers think and act and to take a broader view of external factors when considering new solutions.” - Brian Cooper, RBS UX Design Manager, May 2017
2.3 User-journeys into 2025:
User experience narratives were developed from 2015 to 2025 which contextualised each tribe chiefs journey from present day to the projected future context. For instance, one tribe chief lost her job at a supermarket in 2020 due to the automisation of check-outs. Defining the life situation each chief experienced enabled mapping of users from niche to mainstream, in order to design relevant provotypes, scenarios and service concepts.
2.4 Service concepts and future scenarios:
The GSA team developed service concepts which were either based on plausible future trends, or were more provocative and based on long term, possible future trends. These were materialised for user-testing as either: realistic mock-ups, provotypes (provocation artefacts), or co-creation tools accompanied by artefacts or props which communicated the future context.
Key Outputs: User testing insights, design directions and recommendations
The GSA team facilitated multiple testing sessions of their provotypes, service proposals and future scenarios over one week with 40 users. Based on insights generated when analysing user responses and interactions, design directions were created recommending how the the RBS brand and services could be further developed by the RBS design team after the project.
Some provotypes the users reacted to with shock and negativity, to others they were accepting and eager to see it implemented. Both negative and positive responses provided insight not only into user service preferences and pain points, but also into their ethics and values.
The GSA team developed a portfolio of material to handover to the RBS design team, which included all the research and outcomes, process documentation, key insights from user testing, an evaluation of the bank’s design methodology and new design directions.
Key Outputs: Exhibition, verbal and visual presentation and methodology
The GSA student team presented the outcomes and process evaluation to over 30 employees at RBS Headquarters in Edinburgh from junior to executive level. The project and presentation communicated the value of user-centred design and future forecasting to RBS as a company and helped ensure design plays a central role in RBS projects. The outputs have also supported the RBS design team in evidencing how design can enable the bank to achieve its goal of being number one for customer trust and advocacy by 2020.
1. Industry Perspective: RBS and their customers
“The project is contributing to a cumulative positive effect on customers through the development of solutions that are much more in tune with their needs and concerns than has been the case in the past.” -Brian Cooper, RBS UX Design Manager, May 2017
2. Academic Perspective: GSA and wider academia
“I have disseminated specific methods within other Product Design years within the Undergradtuate Programme (Year 3 and Year 4). The STEP cards and world creation have been particularly effective… Both the knowledge and relationship with academia are incredibly important to how RBS design develops culturally as an organisation, and creatively by conducting strategic explorative work alongside immediate work streams.” -Kirsty Ross, GSA Lecturer in Product Design, May 2017
3. Student Perspective: The MEDes and new graduates
“Initially, I disliked the notion of doing a project for a banking client as I felt that this clashed with my ethics. What has been rewarding for me has been a shift in perspective in terms of what my role might be in working with such companies or industries. From this project I learned that the best way to bring about the change you want to see is to actively take part in changing that which you are critical of.”
- Will Brown, MEDes student, June 2016
The successful outcomes of the initial collaboration enabled the new group to establish a greater level of trust with the RBS designers, as well as a deeper understanding of the company and its potential users. This continuation meant students could critique the outputs of the year before, and build on them directly. Therefore the student team behind ‘Future Bank 2025 - According to Generation Y’ successfully established a business relationship worth developing, in addition to producing research techniques and methodologies that provide a structure for both RBS and subsequent GSA students.
MEDes (Master of European Design) students • Student team members:
MDes (Master in Design Innovation) new graduates from GSA
BDes (Bachelor of Design) new graduates from GSA
Lecturer in Product Design at GSA and Academic Lead
RBS Personal and Business Banking Design Team
RBS Data Analytics Team: Gathered internal quantative data for STEP cards
Christopher Strachan and Santini Basra (AndThen): Led a future world creation workshop with the student team and supported integration of futures research methodology across the GSA Product Design Department.
Nile: Design agency based in Edinburgh - supported GSA recruitment of users for user-testing during phase 3
SDN has announced this year's Service Design Award finalists!
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Over the last three months the Canadian Chapter of the Service Design Network has been hard at work: (1) putting in place the necessary infrastructure to administer the chapter, particularly challenging given the geographic span of Canada; (2) promoting the chapter and supporting local events; and (3) planning our first major multi-city initiative. What follows is a detailed accounting of each of these areas.
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