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Assistance not assumption: It’s always easier to start at the beginning

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GDS assisted digital leads Roxanne Asadi and Alan Rider reflect on some of the common mistakes made when services start thinking about their offline support.

It might seem obvious, but it really is easier to start at the beginning.  And the beginning for all services is always going to be the user. User needs are where services should start, with the needs of the department coming a not-so-close second. We’ve seen a few services coming for Service Standard assessment recently who have started out with an assumption that their users need a certain type of support, then set out to prove that. As we blogged about back in November 2014, we don’t assume any existing online service meets user needs, and we’re not assuming any existing offline support does either. Regardless of what you’ve already got in place, the ‘user's first’ rule still applies.

It’s very tempting to assume that an established contact centre or front office is the right thing for your users. After all, it’s already set up and paid for, there are expert staff on hand, trained and waiting - what could be better?  But taking this approach will force you to backward engineer your user needs to fit your existing solution, and then present that as evidence in a Service Standard assessment. That is where you will quickly come unstuck. Believe us. You will. The right way to approach this is to do good user research first to fully understand your users’ needs, and then see where that takes your service and what support is required for your users.

It really is that simple.  

We’ll continue to share good examples of offline support and research over the coming months.

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