The in-person service experience at Service BC centres (SBC) across British Columbia can be confusing due to years of visual clutter amassing in the office, a lack of visual brand consistency, and less than effective intake models.
Service BC Centres are government offices located across the province that provide in person services for British Columbians.
This project was the second phase of work after an initial discovery project that had identified wayfinding in offices as a key success factor in supporting a new customer intake and triage application called “the Q”. A discovery deliverable was a sign guide that could be used as a how-to for office signs. We took this guide and prototyped both the design of the physical signs as well as the process to identify and order signs. Our theory was that all offices would require a core set of signs with some unique versions in each office. If we could identify this list by prototyping this process, we could create a process that could roll out to all offices.
The second part of this project was to identify ways that staff could capture “service failures” in the new Q application. Service failures are instances where the client was unable to access the service because of issues like missing identification, ineligibility, missing documentation, or a technical error, etc. The program area knew these issues happened, but they didn’t know the full scope of why or how often.
Service BC Centres are located around the province and are typically found in smaller communities. We needed to travel to these centres in order to test our prototypes. We only had the budget to travel to two centres in the interior of B.C., with the last test conducted remotely with the help of staff on site.
I worked with the first centre to outline a process for office managers to take down old signs and identify new signs required. This corresponded to a new office layout remodel and intake process so I built a tabletop model of the office to show how signs would be arranged and identified potential issues with placement and sightlines.
With the first set of signs identified, I worked with the director of graphic design to design the signs to align with the B.C. branding and visual identity. I printed and mounted the new signs in our office and flew out to the office to hang them.
I spent the next morning watching people enter the office and easily intuit what they needed to do. The new signs and office layout were a success. We identified some sizing issues and placement that could be adjusted for the next office.
I also job shadowed the front line staff to observe them using their various business applications as well as the new Q customer management system. This was an excellent empathy building opportunity and an experience I think all public servants should undergo. Watching the staff naturally use the Q in their work allowed us to identify new improvements and helped us get a real-world understanding of “service failures”.
The second half of the day was spent conducting intercept interviews with people visiting the office to hear about their experience accessing government services and learn more about some common service failures from their perspective.
When we returned back to Victoria I facilitated a workshop with the larger project team and client to identify which service failures we thought would be the most valuable to track from a business and client perspective.
With the first prototypes complete we reproduced the same process with another office, further validating the core set of signs required and identifying new signs.
Finally we repeated the process again with a third office remotely, and had the client facilitate the majority of the work so there would be a smooth transition into operations.
Outcomes and Reflection
Using the newly established process, sign style guide, and ordering template, the remaining 140 Service BC offices were able to quickly get their offices updated in months.
One gap in our approach was that we only worked with medium and large-sized offices so we missed out on understanding some requirements for the small offices in rural communities that typically only have one staff and limited space.
Working on signage in the offices also had a positive effect on the staff by offering them a chance to reflect and think about other ways to make the office more efficient. Simply by discussing the check-in flow, other ideas for adjusting the office layout emerged.
This was a unique opportunity to do design in a physical space and I was happy that I could demonstrate that prototyping could be done for more than just a website. By doing DIY printing we were able to adjust sizing, colours, and language before committing to purchasing professionally printed signs.