Covid-19 has changed service users’ needs overnight. How can service leaders react?

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Date Published


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3 mins read


Angela Conway

Covid-19 means people’s needs are changing. Rapidly.

In order to survive, service organisations need to understand these changing needs, and pivot their service offering to meet them.

At their heart, the best services in the world are designed around user needs. They help users to reach the right outcome as intuitively as possible. In a way that has never been experienced in our lifetime, since the start of 2020 those user needs have undergone a rapid overhaul, almost overnight.

This time last month, few of us would have anticipated “As an employer, I need my entire workforce to be able to work from home immediately, so that I can continue trading”, or, “As a customer, I need to know the peak busy hours of my local supermarket, so that I can avoid those times to observe social distancing” to have risen to become some of the most important needs for our services to meet.

This rapid change brings about a vital need for service leaders across all industries to redesign how their services work: how they’re accessed, how they’re staffed, how they’re structured, how they’re paid for. This has to happen fast. Access to jobs, to customers, to vital services like food and healthcare, all depend on it.  

Across the world’s news and media, we’re seeing service leaders saying: “We need to figure out how to adapt our service to…”. But at this time of unprecedented disruption, many organisations and departments are trying to find which way is up; and which adaptation to tackle first. How do they know they’re prioritising the right problems? Now more than ever, choosing to focus on the wrong one will render their service obsolete.

So, how can service leaders react and pivot? And how do they do so quickly, but with assurance that they’re getting things right?

To keep on track, service designers, architects and innovators within Capita Consulting tend to follow a few key principles. These principles are more relevant than ever at this time of rapid change:

  1. Spend time upfront considering all of the issues Covid-19 has caused across your service landscape. Form a joint understanding of the key problems with your team.
  2. Make sure you’re solving the right problem first. Even if time is tight, it’s important to prioritise and ensure you’re responding to the right, well defined problem. Use techniques like Value Chain Mapping to ensure there’s validation behind which problem you’re going to tackle first.
  3. Define some hypothesised solutions. Start broad before narrowing in. How might your service adapt to meet the new user needs that Covid-19 has brought to the fore?
  4. Test things early, and quickly. Don’t spend time polishing your hypothesised solution before you get it out there in front of an audience – it’s amazing what level of insight that can be gleaned from a discussion around a low fidelity prototype. Even early drawings/sketches can be useful. Use the feedback to shape your solution as you go. Has testing shown your hypothesis to be true, or do you need to pivot?
  5. Document the journey taken to get to your solution. The problem you identified, why you prioritised it, the hypothesised solution, the research you’ve done and the early customer feedback will create a strong business case, allowing you to implement change fast.

By following these principles, service leaders can reduce the risk of implementing the wrong solution, at a time when doing so could prove catastrophic. It’s assurance that they’re not only solving the right problem, but solving the problem right.

Contact us

In Capita Consulting’s service and experience design practice, we’ve been looking at how we can help our clients to pivot their service offering rapidly (and also, in current times, remotely). We’ve created a Rapid Service Redesign sprint, an intensive, week-long session which follows the principles above to help our clients to respond to Covid-19 challenges quickly, using collaborative online tools like Miro to ensure we can work together at pace while staying at home.

Get in touch to learn more or secure a sprint team

Written by


Angela Conway

Solutions Consultant, Capita Consulting

Angela is a Solutions Consultant in Capita Consulting's experience and service design practice. She engages with a wide variety of industries, including financial services, motorsport, government and health.

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