What is sludge?
Sludge is excessive or unjustified friction that makes it harder for customers to achieve their goals. It impacts customer satisfaction, trust and access to services. It also prevents us from fulfilling the NSW Customer Commitments.
By removing sludge, you can make your government services easier to access and use. You can help your customers achieve their goals and make your services more fair and inclusive.
Sludge in government can look like
Conflicting or outdated information
Complex language, jargon and slang
Websites that are hard to navigate
Unnecessary steps or requests for information
Forms that must be printed and scanned
Excessive and unexplained wait times
Unexpected and unnecessary requests for sensitive information
Hidden terms and conditions
Unnecessary or confusing compliance requirements
Websites that are incompatible with screen readers
Information that is only available in English
Steps that can only be completed in-person, or only online
Start your sludge journey
The NSW Government sludge audit method helps you identify and quantify sludge in a customer journey. Findings from a sludge audit can inform service improvements that make it easier for customers to achieve their goals.
After you have done a sludge audit, you will:
- understand where sludge is making it harder for your customers to achieve their goals
- see data quantifying the impact of sludge on your customers
- know where you can make changes to improve the customer experience.
The sludge audit method was developed by the NSW Behavioural Insights Unit in the Department of Customer Service.
The Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU) supports teams across NSW Government to identify and remove sludge from their customers’ experience. Based on your needs, this support could include:
- providing advice and resources
- introducing your team to the sludge audit method
- reviewing your progress on sludge audits and helping you understand the results
- providing tailored support as your team completes sludge audits.
The sludge guides are full of practical, evidence-based techniques for designing service improvements. The guides cover letters and emails, websites, forms, text messages, apps, and phone and face to face interactions.
Use these sludge guides (PDFs) to help you make service improvements
Make your websites accessible, clear and easy to use.
Make your letters and emails purposeful, clear and designed with your customers’ needs in mind.
Make your forms easy to find, understand, complete and submit.