How To Design Multi-Customer Services

Catalina Bonavia | 13 January 2021


Designing services is complex. But there are some keys to designing ‘multi-customer’ services that you can to bring into the centre from the very beginning to make it easier.

Designing services is complex. Imagine when you have more than one customer in each journey, say a parent and a child, or an old woman and their beloved (or not) adult kids trying to agree on a service that will solve for all their different needs or challenges. Some examples could be buying a vacation package for those families with kids of different ages, finding the best aged care option for parents or even subscribing to a monthly toy delivery service. 

Let’s use ‘Aged Care’ as an example. Deciding to get help for a grown-up is complex moment and it usually happens after an accident or traumatic eventIn most cases, the decision-maker (client) is not the main user (customer/patient), but solving for both their needs, motivations and challenges is what will make the difference between the client getting your services, not getting them or getting them but leaving them 

There are some keys to designing these ‘multi-customer’ services that you need to bring into the centre from the very beginning: 

1. Acknowledge that you have two users, not one: a frequent error is forgetting about the client and concentrating on the customer. This happens frequently in health-related services. We know that the patient is the focus and their health is the most important thing, but taking care of the needs of those around the patient is also key. In the aged care example, the son, daughter or in laws are usually the ones making the decisions and they need peace of mind that their parents are being taken care of while they continue working. For example, if they find out about an episode that occurred to their parent 2 weeks later, they will not feel confident in the care from the aged care provider. Alternatively, if they are receiving calls every day it may be considered too much. Striking a fine balance is key. This can be translated for schools, toys, or even gift services.  

2. Understanding the needs, motivations and triggers of each of them – not only the customerHumancentred design is about deeply understanding your user, but if you don’t understand ALL the users that you have, you may miss opportunities to provide an even better service. Going back to our exampleunderstanding the reason why someone is engaging aged care services is essential to set the journey up for success. The journey is not the same when someone gets into aged care because of an accident, suddenly becoming widowedor if the kids (clients) are not close to their parents 

3. Designing one service with two inter-related experiences – not one experience, not two separated experiences: If you imagine a customer journey, in the case of aged care we need to add another layer. You have your customers experience at the top and your clients (or even other customers) below it. In some stages you will only need to concentrate on one of thembath or food time will be only about the patient, while payment will be only about the client. However, in some other stages it is about both of them (e.g. getting settled into the room when the patient needs to feel safe and at home, but also the kids (clients) need to feel that they are doing the right thing for their parents). 

4. Find what are the moments of truth for each of them – and prioritise them: If you read our last blog about prioritisation, then this will sound familiar. Trying to do everything at the same time will lead to an overwhelmed team that won’t deliver any real value. Understanding what really adds value to your customers is vital to know where to focus. Moments of truth are the ones that make or break your customer’s experience. It is when they go ‘yes, this is what I need’ or ‘OMG, I better start looking for another option’. 

5. Don’t forget about your internal users – design the processes and tools that your people need to deliver those experiencesAnd last but not least, the most common mistake is designing an experience that sounds lovely but is impossible to deliver. Avoid designing an experience that has a fantastic front end, but requires your employees to do manual work that leads to inconsistencyslow responses and high costs. 

And, as we always say, engage with your customers. Don’t assume you know what they need because it’s likely that you know part of it, but not all and you will miss great opportunities. 

Are you redesigning your services? Are you attracting lots of new customers, but not being able to retain them? Are you trying to implement a new service or channel, but can’t get all stakeholders to agree? Let’s chat! We’d love to help! 

Catalina Bonavia