Doctor’s Note

I plan to keep blogging here, though the slowdown of content has been mostly due to me procrastinating about platforms (WordPress, Hugo, Medium, newsletter). But that also made be procrastinate about writing.

So, in the meantime, I’ll be posting long-form writing on Medium as well as here, but also experimenting with a newsletter called Doctor’s Note—an irregular newsletter containing a mix of longer form essays and short musing on design, innovation, culture, technology and society. Much like this blog.

What with GDPR and all that, please consensually go to the sign up page to receive the goodies. I’ve set a goal to write something every week.

Service Experience Conference 2017 Closing Keynote

I had the pleasure of giving the closing keynote at the Adaptive Path Service Experience Conference 2017. There was a fantastic line-up of speakers and now all of the videos and decks are online on their summary of the conference.

I really recommend taking a look at all the talks, but I’ve embedded mine below (which might not work in the RSS feed):

Andy Polaine // Designing Living Services // The Service Experience Conference 2017 from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Fjord Fika with Dave Gray

fika-coffee

Fjord have recently started a podcast series called Fjord Fika, the Swedish word for slowing down and catching up with colleagues and friends over coffee and pastry. (Germans have a long tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen that I rather miss in Australia).

The Fika podcast features unscripted conversations with key luminaries and thought leaders in technology and design. We aim to take a fresh, honest look at all sides of innovation – the good, the bad and the ugly – and the impact on society. I had the pleasure of speaking my friend, multiple author and visual thinker extraordinaire, Dave Gray

He and I have often had long and interesting conversations that I wish we had recorded. And now we have. You can find it here and in all the usual places you get your podcasts. Have a listen and tell us what you think. Twitter is a good place for comments. 

Service Design. Now in Korean.

Service Design Book Korean Cover

Our book on service design was recently translated into Korean by Dr. Grace Bae from CMU HCII and Dr. Younkyung Lim from KAIST Design, Korea. It’s great to see the final result, even though I can’t read the language of course. Korean readers will have to tell me how it is. You can buy it online here.

Also, thanks to Dr Eunki Chung, a PhD graduate at the Human Computer Interaction Institute of Carnegie Mellon University who was assisting. There’s a nice circle that has been closed, since the book is a textbook for CMU Design’s Designing for Service course. The course was originally designed by Shelley Evenson in 2007, who is now one of my bosses at Fjord and Executive Director of Organisational Evolution.

Design to the Power of Ten UX Australia 2016

Thanks to everyone who came to my workshop at presentation at UX Australia. Below is the deck for my Design to the Power of Ten presentation:

You can view it directly on Speakerdeck here.

UPDATE: The audio recording is now available, so you can listen and click along at home:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/282339720″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Services need to manage reverse ID better

Having finally relocated to a permanent address in Sydney and re-docking with government and utilities, I’ve been experiencing the whole gamut of customer services. There are a whole host of things to register for and the way companies go about it is different every time.

The good news is that most of this is much better. I first got to Australia in 1999 and left in 2006 and I have many memories of having to go to government offices in person or being on hold to utility companies for ages. But there is still a lot of work to do.

Several companies have adopted the post-registration follow-up strategy. I can just see it as a sticky note touchpoint moment on some service or CX designer’s customer journey. The problem is many companies still have a view of the power relationship firmly placed in their camp – it’s still inside out. Here is what happened when my energy company, AGL, called me month into my contract with them. At least I assume it really was AGL:

Random caller on my mobile: “Hi, this is X from AGL, am I speaking to Mr Andrew Polaine?”

Me: “Er, yes.”

AGL: “Great. So I just wanted to welcome you to AGL and check that everything was set up on your account the way you want it.”

At this point I’m thinking, it’s a bit late, but one billing cycle in, so I understand why. And it’s a nice touchpoint so far. Then we hit an impasse:

AGL: “Before I go any further, I need to confirm some security details. Can you tell me your street number and name or give me your date of birth?”

Me: “Sure. But you just called me so I need to make sure you are actually from AGL. Can you tell me the last three digits of my account number?”

AGL: “I’m afraid I can’t do that until you confirm your account details.”

Me: “But I don’t know who you are. Do you not have any way to prove you are from AGL?”

AGL: “I’m sorry, I can’t give you any details until I confirm you for security purposes. But I understand if you are uncomfortable with this, so you can just give us a call anytime.”

The call centre contact was perfectly pleasant, but put in an impossible situation by policy and hamstrung by her script. It also turned something meant to be a pleasant, proactive touchpoint into work for me to do having to call them back. It also goes against the mental model of these kinds of interactions that other services, such as banks, have built in our heads – don’t give out your details to random callers.

This approach evidenced inside-out thinking, not customer centricity. The policy is probably “on all calls customers must identify themselves,” but the real world equivalent of my call was someone ringing my doorbell and asking me to prove I lived there when I answered the door.

Thinking through and acting out those kinds of interactions as if they were in-person and personal relationships is a simple way to get them right. In this case, AGL could have come up with a way to do a reverse ID check and even communicated this when I first signed up so I knew what to expect. It’s not a huge transgression, but multiple moments like that add up to a choppy experience. Thankfully AGL have been pretty good so far.

The Circular Economy Officer

There’s an interesting short piece over at Sustainable Brands asking whether we need a new kind of CEO – a Circular Economy  Officer. They interviewed my brother who makes a good case for industrial designers:

Matt Polaine, former circular economy research lead at BT, says a key remit of any circular economy role should be to understand materials flows in both directions — upstream and downstream of the value chain. Such a function requires the ability to tap into different skill sets: design, procurement, compliance, product innovation, and insurance/risk expertise to name a few. Because of this, Polaine believes the skills of an industrial engineer stand out from the rest. “This mindset has to understand the materials, the way the product is manufactured, used, the user interface/service design, and the end-of-life aspect. They are also clear about aesthetics, the beauty of the product and experience in use. For the circular economy to flourish, the customer experience must work very well and promote advocacy.”

It’s clear how this thinking connects with service design’s aim to break down silos and embed joined-up thinking within organizations, but ultimately focused on a superb end experience for the customer or user. Without this last aspect, all the great technology or sustainable solutions in the world are for nought if customers just use something less circular but with a better experience. If we’re asking people to sacrifice something or change behaviours, we need to offer them something better in return.