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Philip Watson

Philip Watson

Akendi Alumnus

Digital inclusion and service delivery in post-covid world – workshop insights

On 30th of April, 2020, Akendi & CW successfully facilitated an online discussion on “Adjusting business service delivery to a changed world”. Participants enjoyed 2 sweet and short inspiring UX talks, by Marek Pawlowski (MEX) and Tara O’Doherty (Akendi) followed by a number of themed round-table discussions discussed on our Discord server.

In this blog we will share the highlights from 3 of the most insightful topics.

“Reinventing service design”

Quite a few things have been written in the past few weeks about how people have now become more tolerant of remote video meetings. Whilst no replacement for face-2-face meetings, the advantages of not having to travel and the low costs combined with the realisation that ‘it is not as bad as we thought’ means that a lot of these types of meetings are here to stay.

COVID also seems to have accelerated the transformation into a cashless society which many will also view as a good thing.

But how about the digital “have-not’s”? Well, they still remain the “have-not’s” but this time they are more visible than ever. Banks are making an effort to help elderly people to now do their banking online, but it is not help with existing systems that they need, it is systems that are, finally, designed for them rather than forced on them. You could also argue that it has made the need for specifically designed elderly digital services finally visible. 

This is what COVID does, it makes previously ignored needs visible. For organisations looking to introduce new services post-Covid this is very good news. Take people who are now shopping to help the elderly neighbours by doing a bit of shopping. It is likely that these elderly people always needed a bit of help with shopping but were too proud to ask. Covid now makes it okay to accept help, and it highlights a general need for help that keeps that pride of the recipient intact. 

In short, if you are looking for opportunities post-Covid then all you need to do is:

  • Open your eyes
  • See what people are doing to (temporarily) solve that need
  • Flip the solution and define what need it really solves
  • Assess whether this need was invisible/neglected before Covid
  • Develop a user-centred solution that fits like a glove post-Covid

“Online vs. face-to-face”

Identify the unique virtues of the enforced shift to online. Don’t settle for simply replicating face-to-face, think about how you can make something better than it was before.

Use a process of atomisation to re-evaluate interactions which previously took place face-to-face and break them down into their individual goals: the jobs to be done. For instance, something like a big trade exhibition may not be replicable as a single entity, but could spin-off into multiple new, specialised services better fit for purpose.

Consider how the look and feel of trust differs in online versus face-to-face interactions, especially for older customers? How does this relate to the need for clear rules of etiquette and cultural sensitivity? (there was a working group on this at one of our MEX events a few years back – findings here).

Currently many attempts to replicate face-to-face scenarios – from pub quizzes to listening to bands – require users to apply an ad-hoc mashup of tools and platforms (e.g. combining WhatsApp, Zoom, YouTube and others into a single game evening) rather than adopting a single, over-arching new service.

“Online learning systems” themes:

It’s clear that online learning is going to play a bigger part in everyone’s lives in a post-covid world. How, where and why remains to be seen.

As half the world gets to grips with working from home, online learning and the associated systems to enable it have taken the spotlight. They have become a critical part of delivering training, education and development opportunities, both in the workplace and in educational settings.

Yes, you can record one Zoom workshop and make it available to an unlimited number of people for no extra effort. Trainers of all stripes should be doing this more to reduce bottlenecks and improve revenue streams, of course.

What is the other side of this see-saw? If all training is recorded rather than live, how do we ensure effectiveness? Are there things that cannot be translated to a digital medium?

Undoubtedly the future will hold a mix of pre-recorded, live and face-to-face learning and education. Getting the balance right, so that trainers and trainees are all well equipped to succeed, will be key to the sustainability of this approach.

What to do next?

Want to join the discussion? Follow Akendi to find out about future events like this.

Want to learn more? If you are thinking of developing services for a post-covid world then why not sign up for our Service Transformation course.

Philip Watson

Philip Watson

Akendi Alumnus


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Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.