Fair By Design
3 Service Design students
Bringing consumer's voice to the regulatory bodies with the aim to introduce a more empathetic perspective to the regulation-making process.
A series of empathy tools to get regulators (who come from completely different circumstances to the people they make regulations for) to start consulting different voices to add perspective to their decision making.
An insight report that complies with all our findings in this project.
Based on testing, 90% of regulators are willing to use empathy tools when making decisions.
Fair By Design is happy to launch our tools on their website. Our insight report is now part of a formal report that our client published in February 2021.
Oct - Dec, 2020
We worked with Fair By Design to create a sustainable, participatory system for regulators to engage with and understand different types of consumers when making decisions. We managed Fair By Design's partnerships with their key stakeholders and designed a 3-step approach to starting - and utilising - an inclusive mindset in regulatory bodies.
This is so that markets can be more inclusive and more readily meet the needs of vulnerable consumers in the UK.
A look at poverty premium
In the UK, 14 million people who live in poverty pay extra for essential goods and services such as energy, loans, insurance. For example, people living in poverty would prefer using prepayment meters to control their spending, but they have to pay more for this payment method. These extra costs – the poverty premium – lock people in a cycle of poverty. For each consumer, he/she will be subject to the aggregate impact of regulations from multiple regulators, and for these regulatory bodies, this aggregation is not evident. To address this, more inclusivity is needed in the decision-making across regulatory bodies.
Inclusivity does not reflect in practice
However, inclusivity and empathy are accepted in theory but does not reflect in practice. We wanted to bring the voices of people with lived experience to help regulators understand their situation and needs, how they make decisions, and therefore drive a more inclusive regulatory practice.
Regulators and vulnerable consumers live different stories
Regulators are empathetic but they’re empathetic to people like themselves. It’s hard to comprehend that a vulnerable consumer, from a completely different background, leading a very different life, makes decisions different from them. There are many barriers for vulnerable consumers to make what regulators perceive to be rational decisions.
Regulators and vulnerable consumers speak different languages
There are some consumer panels held by regulators where they invite consumers to share their thoughts,
but some technical terms is hard for the consumer to understand, and the vulnerable voices aren't being accurately represented.
Difficult to visualise the aggregate impact
Regulators understand numbers and statistics. Knowing the consumers beyond numbers and through stories is hard to present in big data. This makes it challenging for the regulator to walk in the consumer’s shoes
How might we convey the relevance of lived stories to help regulators make inclusivity a regular practice?
01 Help regulators see that their decisions affect consumers
Bringing the aggregate impact of regulations on vulnerable consumers’ through stories will help them see people as people, not data.
02 Enable right conversations
To achieve this, shared and visualised language is needed to initiate the effective and meaningful conversations.
03 Encourage a sustainable framework
At the same time, we want to ensure that whatever we introduce is sustainable in the long term.
Ideate, Prototype & Test
We used Zoom to test our prototypes (personas, customer journey map) with 5 regulators from different regulatory bodies.
Aside from finding out what kind of information is helpful for them to understand the vulnerable consumers better, we also realised that regulators had used similar empathy tools to describe consumers.
The key problems are:
01 The information is outdated.
The persona and CJM used in regulatory bodies before didn't be updated, so the information is no longer relevant, accurate a few years after.
02 Understand customers is not enough.
Some regulators are more technical, they don't see how their work affects the consumer and that vulnerable consumers make decisions differently from what they perceive to be viable. To show the aggregate impact, we have to make regulators see how these personas applied to their work.
We created a series of small interventions in our proposal - For U, With U, which is a toolkit designed for, and with, inclusivity. Our approach is broken down into three main stages.
First, gaining the interest of regulators and channelling it into action, by showcasing an empathy video, a series of personas, an interactive game, and a series of customer journey maps. All of them are inspired by real stories of vulnerable consumers from our primary research. These can help regulators understand how vulnerable consumers live, think, and make decisions.
Second, making it a practice by promoting obligatory practice, improving regularity, and giving recognition.
Finally, staying relevant is the key to sustainability. We also created templates to update the above tools regularly.
To reinforce the impact of their work, we have created a series of personas of different vulnerabilities
This persona has information relevant to the regulators, like financial challenges due to essential service premiums
(ex. energy, water and electricity.)
An introduction to these people is not enough. We created an interactive experience to help them walk in the persona's shoes and made it immersive by creating storylines where players have to decide on how to spend their money, budget, make spending decisions, buy groceries, seek support, etc.
We want to show no decision is made in a vacuum. They all affect each other and over time, the aggregate of all these constraints can take a toll on our personas.
(Click and play with it.)
Customer Journey Map
To channel this engagement into action, Our customer journey map then breaks down the interactive experiences into decision-making points of the consumer, so that the regulator can see how they can intervene.
Service design is not a linear process. We keep the double-diamond approach"Discover, Define, Develop, Delivery" in mind as an operating mindset, but it's not a linear phase that we only go through step by step.
Adapting to the changing world. We did most of our work online, we managed the client’s expectations and introduced them to our collaborative ways of working on platforms such as Zoom, Miro, Google documents, Whimsical and Typeform. We worked alongside our client’s partners and found ways to cater to their needs while also leveraging the partnerships to access vulnerable communities. The process of operating entirely online especially when dealing with sensitive subjects such as poverty and financial vulnerability was challenging, but through perseverance, the breakthroughs and insights gathered have been invaluable. This willingness to adapt to change and shifting expectations allowed us to quickly accommodate the ever-changing world in 2020 and we continued to find ways to create, test, and build strong relationships with the stakeholders in this ecosystem.