The world’s first sludge-a-thon to eliminate sludge and improve customer experience
Sludge is the frustrating frictions that get in the way of a good customer experience. In 2021, 11 teams from across the Department of Customer Service applied behavioural insights to eliminate sludge to help customers in the world’s first Sludge-a-thon.
What is sludge and why does it matter?
Sludge is the unnecessary friction that makes it harder for our customers to get what they want, when they want it. With New South Wales committed to being the world’s most customer centric government it is critical we remove these frictions.
Eliminating sludge in the Department of Customer Service
The NSW Behavioural Insights Unit have developed a sludge busting method we call the ‘sludge audit’. The sludge audit allows us to identify hidden sludge that gets in the way of a good customer experience so it can be eliminated. In 2021, teams from across the Department of Customer Service had the opportunity to use this method to bust sludge for customers in the world’s first Sludge-a-thon.
Each of the 11 teams nominated a process to improve for their customers. They learnt about and applied the sludge audit method to first identify, and second eliminate sludge using behavioural insights.
- Identify sludge. The teams were guided through a series of intensive workshops and clinics to complete the two-step audit. They used the results to identify which parts of the customer process to focus on. They used customer feedback and data to amplify the voice of the customer throughout the audit process.
- Eliminate sludge. With sludge identified, teams rapidly moved through a series of design sprints in a two-day hack-a-thon style accelerator. Learning about and applying behavioural insights, they designed and tested prototypes with experts from across the fields of behavioural insights and customer experience.
After the event they walked away with a sludge busting solutions. Teams are now implementing solutions to improve the customer experience, with support from the NSW Behavioural Insights Unit.
CASE STUDIES – REAL IMPACT
Defaults for simple login
- One team have used defaults to improve the experience of customers who forget their password.
- Customers who forget their password have an option to request a temporary one-time code or reset their password altogether. One-time codes, while quicker in the short term, make for a bad experience in the long run.
- The audit revealed that customers were opting for the default option, which was the sludgier one, not realising that it would take them more time to resolve. Changing the default to encourage a password reset has led to a 22 percent increase in customers taking the preferred option, which equates to a saving of 7 minutes per customer.
Transparent and streamlined consent
- Through simplification and inspired by a ‘whole of customer’ approach to service delivery, a Service NSW team has streamlined their consent process.
- When customers want to change personal details like their address, they should have the ability to ‘tell us once’. The sludge audit revealed that customers need to update details across multiple NSW Government services.
- The team developed a simple consent solution, which will save customers time and makes it simple for customers to update their details once across a range of Government agencies.
With a sludge-a-thon participant experience rating of 4.8/5, those involved had great things to say:
“The behavioural insights tools, the facilitators who provided really useful feedback from an objective perspective, proxy customer feedback helped us further refine the solution to remove even more sludge.”
“This process is CRITICAL to streamlining any initiative - saving time and money for government but importantly - the customer. It should be a mandatory part of any project plan and evaluation for any program.”
The sludge-a-thon will continue to have an enduring impact on NSW government customers.
Participants reported that the event helped them to think differently about how to solve challenges. 85 percent of participants said they would use what they learned at the sludge-a-thon to improve other customer processes.
Want to learn how you can bust sludge to improve your customers’ experience?
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