Case study: researching public services experience
This case shows how a consultancy agency together with a local governmental institution in Chile worked to understand and improve the customer as well as the employee experience.
By including both the internal and external view they succeeded in visualizing service gaps within the user journeys and start implementing change within the organization.
About CAJ and Aukan DICTUC
Corporación de Asistencia Judicial Metropolitana (CAJ) is a public organization which offers legal assistance for the Chilean population free of charge. As being part of the government of Chile, CAJ is in charge to represent in legal concerns people who cannot afford to pay for it, in cases of violent crime, family issues, housing, or work issues and collaborative conflict resolution. CAJ represents access to justice to vulnerable people. Aukan DICTUC is an academic spin-off of the College of Engineering at the Pontif- ical Catholic University of Chile, which aims to advise clients in the development and systematization of innovation as a competitive tool and cultural identity. Aukan DICTUC offers consulting services in the field of innovation, enhancing the value creation capabilities of companies and public entities.
Problem statement and aim
CAJ was having strategic and managerial challenges. To solve situations associated with the internal and external user experience, the institution decided to start a 1 year innovation management program including 7 innovation groups in different parts all over the country. The project called “Programa de Gestión de Innovación” received government support.
Within the CAJ innovation program, Aukan DICTUC led the first project call, which was based on the methodology of SER – Simple, Efectivo, Rápido (simple, effective, fast). It aimed at exploring where problems occur within the institution in general and followed an open approach. This one-year project focused on the promotion of innovation skills for individuals and institutions in different aspects. It started in October 2015 and included 10 CAJ officials from various centers of the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile. The aim of this project was to better understand the customer, their requirements and needs in order to improve the user’s experiences with CAJ.
First step: workshop
“The idea was to first start with employees. But we quickly understood that the whole situation was very emotional with CAJ management having changed already for the third time within one year”Pedro Seguel, innovation consultant at Aukan DICTUC
Therefore the SER team decided to start a workshop where they did not just focus on the employees, but also on the customer’s’ perspective.
As CAJ had never worked on customer experience management before, the institution started with a workshop bringing various internal stakeholder groups together to analyze the current situation and identify major problems. This was the first time that internal teams incorporated CX tools and reflected on their services. Participants included CAJ lawyers, administrative assistants, social assistants and interns.
The outcome of this first workshop was the creation of a typical user journey of a civil and family process. Therefore the experiences of CAJ professionals were documented and a fictional user journey was created. One example includes e.g. a divorce process of an affected citizen.
The method of customer journey mapping helped participants to understand how long and complex this process was for the person affected and how frustrating and confusing her experiences could be. However this first workshop only included the employee perspective and was based on a fictional user journey. That’s why, in a second step, it was necessary to back these assumptions up with research.
“We wanted to work with real people and real experiences.”Pedro Seguel, Innovation consultant at Aukan DICTUC
Second step: research
In a second step, both employees and customers were invited to use the ExperienceFellow mobile app and report on their own experiences with being a CAJ customer or working for the organization.
Data collection and data analysis
Customers were recruited based on an existing database. However researchers had problems reaching out to potential participants. In the end only 3 customers could be recruited. During a time period of two weeks they could document their experiences in two strategic CAJ centers by adding touchpoints including notes, evaluations and pictures. Here is what some customers had to say about their experience:
“The experience that I had today was very gratifying. It’s good to know that public workers are worried for the services that they are giving to the community. Concern about what we are thinking and how they can improve things.”customer taking part in the project
“I believe that this has been a time well spent. We have put ourselves a little in their shoes and they have put themselves in ours.”customer taking part in the project
The collected customer journeys included experiences lasting from one day up to one week. Especially interns were very active and engaged, as they had a high affinity to technology and enjoyed using the tool. As people were moving around a lot, the mapping function of the web-based software of ExperienceFellow allowed the SER team to map those movements.
Finally, both positive and negative – could be visualized. This mobile ethnography research was followed up by a one-day workshop which started off with two real customer stories: first, María, who wanted to file for a divorce and secondly, Juanita, who was renting out her flat, but not receiving any money for it and was trying to reclaim her flat. Based on these two customer journeys workshop participants discussed encountered problems within the CAJ process and came up with new ideas by co-creating.
One of the most negative customer experiences that occurred when entering a CAJ office was a paper in the door saying that when the office was not open, you were not allowed to be in the office. These negative formulations caused bad experiences even before people actually entered the building.
When employees were asked about the sign, employees reported that there was no space where they could spend their lunch break and therefore had to eat in their own office. The papers on the door tried to avoid that customers were entering the office during lunch break.
Another problem that occurred was that customers did not understand which papers they had to hand in at which stage. Without those papers however, CAJ employees were not able to proceed with cases. In general employees had quite a negative picture of their customers as they were badly informed.
Some customers had to drive for 3 hours to actually reach the next CAJ office. When they arrived they were really disappointed to find it closed. This left a very negative impression of CAJ.
In the end, the research team identified the called “opportunity tree” as the main issues which were interpreted as opportunities for change and innovation. This tree included the integration of various channels
and institutions, for example: integrating the interns within the institution (no handover from one intern to the other) and integration with different internal departments.
Third step: service improvements
As a result of this innovation program, a lot of change has already happened in various CAJ offices. By integrating both customers and employees into this project, common understanding was created.
Low level of awareness of CAJ services
One major problem consisted in the lack of knowledge of potential customers on free legal assistance by CAJ. Due to money constraints however CAJ does not have any financial means for carrying out a media campaign in order to reach higher familiarity.
Therefore, they started organizing workshops with students who were about to start their work life. By providing them with basic legal information about their rights as future employees, this already created a positive image and strong connection of students with the institution.
As many CAJ offers lack staff, a new toolkit was designed for these workshops in order to minimize the time and cost effort for their organization. This allows various staff within CAJ offices to carry out these workshops and the institution being more flexible. At the same time they can use these workshops to inform potential clients about their whole range of legal services. As a result of these internal changes, CAJ is able to connect with future potential clients and help raise the institution’s familiarity within the area.
Gaps between customer expectation and experience
One of the most common problems in communication was to deal with the complexity of the judicial processes, with customer expectations and experiences. In judicial services there is a big information gap for customers. They often already feel anxious of interacting with new institutions and once they are in the process, they have the feeling that they are not advancing at all. Many times the processes are being done correctly and being reviewed as needed, however, the customers’ experience with that process is not satisfying. Being aware of the gaps between the justice journey and the experience journey was a big insight for the workers in CAJ.
One team focused on the problems to start a judicial process with CAJ and all the paperwork and steps that the user must do by itself in order to advance in his cause. This team designed the basis of an information sheet for this processes, prototyping three levels of information and carrying out tests with different users. The information was represented in graphic journey align with the justice procedures for most common legal needs of their customers. Inspired by other international experiences they thought of its design as a visa, in order to promote the sensation of advancing in steps. The visa includes all the major steps you need to go through in order to receive CAJ legal services. It helps as an orientation for customers, but at the same time rewards them for every step they have completed by receiving a stamp in their visa. Furthermore customers were invited to give feedback on the processes they have already completed.
A main issue was of course the lack of actively designing internal processes in order to satisfy customers on the one side, but also improve the employer experience.
One of the measures undertaken was the elimination of inefficient team meetings. As in these meetings mainly information was distributed, the team decided to send out this information by e-mail instead and change the format of these meetings. Managers sent out a pre-questionnaire collecting important topics from employees. The meetings were then designed like co-creation session which allowed team members to work on joint problem solving. This made meetings much more attractive for all members.
Stakeholders rather than being just part of the problem, also become part of the solution. A lot of improvements are already happening and CAJ as an institution is changing. A big focus is put on communication, both externally with customers as well as internally within departments.
“The metaphor of this project was that working on the customer and employee journey was a journey in itself.”Pedro Seguel, Innovation consultant at Aukan DICTUC
As it is always difficult to implement change in any organization, this was also the case at CAJ being a public organization. Even though the organization was resistant at the beginning to take risk, as they knew that they were facing a lot of challenges, they were open to start this innovation program with small steps of change. By applying new methods from Service Design, the institution was able to start real conversation, focus on their challenges, prioritize them and therefore create a strong vision for the future.
“It was amazing to see how participants were rather shy at the beginning of the project, but then opened up and shared deep emotions and real experiences with us.”Pedro Seguel, Innovation consultant at Aukan DICTUC
Another challenge was to find users to participant in the project. The low participation rate might also be explained by the lack of incentive. Therefore they had to reach out to customers while they were at the CAJ centers. Some customers did not possess a smartphone or were not used to its use. This was solved with researchers who did the documentation of touchpoints together with clients. Getting CAJ employees however proved to be easier. While participants in general were quite reluctant at the beginning; they became much more open and relaxed during the project.
“While the first workshop employees shared a lot of personal stories and experiences, which were rather general and unspecific, the use of ExperienceFellow helped to dig deeper into these issues and get richer, more qualitative and real data.”Pedro Seguel, Innovation consultant at Aukan DICTUC
The visualization of both customers and employee journeys with ExperienceFellow helped analyze specific service gaps and processes in much more detail and based on real data. The research study helped researchers to identify the real needs of citizens, emotions amongst customers and employees as well as major challenges within the structure of the institution. Once weaknesses within the organization were identified, the team started prioritising them and starting to implement change. The result was a better understanding of processes at CAJ, and more respect, empathy and attention between different actors.
|Aim of the project|
Understanding and improving both the customer as well as the employee experience at CAJ
|Number of internal participants of first workshop|
7 team members, 8 employees of CAJ (lawyers, administrative and social assistants), 1 judge and 3 CAJ customers
|Number of collected customer journeys|
20 (5 external and 15 internal)
|Total participants of second workshop|
15 (external and internal)
Internally within 3 CAJ centers and externally through data base and videos
Want to slip into your customers’ shoes with your own experience research project?