Kent County Council’s innovative Gateway programme is an ambitious approach to reshape the way people in Kent access services. Through locations in Ashford, Margate and Tunbridge Wells residents can access a multitude of interconnected services, from housing and benefits to adult education and libraries; they can register a birth, attend a smoking cessation class and buy a parking permit all in a single visit.
As 9 additional Gateway locations are being built and will open over the coming months, management was keen to build the foundations for a collaborative customer focused culture across all Gateway locations.
Gateway approached SILK and its partners, Engine Service Design, to bring a creative approach to fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst staff.
A Gateway co design team, made up of staff from both Ashford and Thanet Gateway, were set research tasks that encouraged them to actively investigate how and why their customers were accessing the service, as well as looking externally to other high street services to understand how different companies provide good customer service.
During a series of workshops, the insights and customer stories collected during the research were used as a starting point for co-designing a practical tool kit for identifying and responding collaboratively to customer needs.
Staff helped to co-design ‘Insight to Idea’ - a structured process for groups to collaboratively unpack customer needs, map their journey of interaction with the Gateway and generate creative solutions for improved services to be implemented by all staff.
By bringing to life the various actions of an individual’s visit and continuously focusing on meeting their needs, staff are able to quickly identify opportunities for improving the customer experience.
The project served as a practical demonstration of the potential of working across organisations and proved to be an effective way of sharing expertise and building a shared awareness of the total Gateway offer. Beyond investigating a new approach to working together, this work provided a mechanism for frontline staff to stimulate grassroots innovation within each Gateway centre location.