Project Description

As a national recycling scheme is implemented state by state, Service Design helped to improve systems for container refund points and their operations to become more usable and scalable.

When Container Deposit Legislation was launched in Queensland, beverage manufacturers implemented the Containers for Change scheme through Coex (Container Exchange) a non-profit organisation.

CES (Container Exchange Services) is the environmental sustainability start-up jointly funding by Lion and Coca-Cola Amatil. Together, the partnership’s mission is to increase recycling, reduce litter and landfill, and create opportunities for community groups and social enterprises across Australia.

CES delivers and centralises the critical business systems and services for recycling services including; Information Technology, Financial Technology, Marketing, Sustainability, Recycling, Logistics, Customer Service, Operations, and Materials Trading (Auction Platform). All of these services need implementation and optimisation through Service Design.

The Challenge

As is common in many technologically-driven start-ups, the success of service delivery tends to focus primarily on the speed of delivery and how rapid software can be built.

This criteria for function is effective in the beginning to prove that a service is deliverable, but it also has some risks in sacrificing flexibility when the service needs to change.

Initially, the systems and workflows were erected, but the challenge was now in enabling services at scale as it rolled out of Queensland to other states in Australia.

This rapid deployment of technology meant, in this particular case, that delivery was prioritised over the usability and the impact this had on the utility of the operators and experience of customers at the recycling points.

Validation of utility was determined by UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and the number of containers that are being recycled as key success criteria. There did not seem to be any success criteria based on the customer or operator experience of the service.

Defining success

The first part of any strategic design exercise is to understand what an organisation’s aims are. Sometimes, there is a clear brief but often, there needs to be an internal discovery exercise to uncover individual stakeholders goals and why they matter to both them and the organisation as a whole. It is not uncommon to find that different stakeholders may have competing interests.

In this particular case, it seemed to be a very straightforward exercise of improving the front stage systems that recycling operators used to identify, count and recycle the containers that were coming in from citizens in different states. The systems were called POS (Point Of Sale) systems on iPads and the CRP (Container Refund Portal).

After speaking with individual stakeholders to determine what they would like to see as success criteria, I also spoke to some of their team members closer to the products about how they might like to see these systems develop.

User Experience and Usability were the key indicators to be enhanced. It was therefore crucial to set a baseline for the current states to measure if and how any improvements might be made in any future states.

Service Design Blueprint – Current State

CES Service Design Blueprint

Service Design involves researching how a service, if existing, will meet the needs of the end user, customer, citizen. This service can expand across a variety of contexts and systems.

In this case, it started in the broadcast media, where people visited a website, downloaded an app and then interfaced with a staff member using a POS iPad.

This is called the “Front stage” of services as it’s where the interactions take place with the public. The service continued in the back-office administration or “Back stage” to ensure that the service continued to meet the needs of the public and the supplier organisations. In this case it was the CRPOs.

In order to understand the service from beginning to end, it is useful to map the customers and operators perspective of where they are involved with different people, systems, procedures and policies.

This is where a current-state service blueprint comes in handy. It illustrates a story of the customer journey before, during and after their experience with the service.

It allows for where they come into contact with the ‘front stage’ touch-points as well as the ‘back-stage’ processes, systems and workflows supporting the services at different points in time.

Primary Research

In a 3-month Human-Centred Design engagement, a discovery approach was outlined to identify the problems that the Container Refund Point Operators (CRPOs) were experiencing. I would need to undertake Primary Qualitative Research as no research had been done previously.

POS iPad

Usability Testing the current state internally

Whilst the requests for research budget and protocol were being established, it’s sometimes useful to conduct a usability test with any products to get a better idea of the experience and functionality of the services.

I recruited 4 people with minimal or no training with the systems and asked to perform a few tasks on the 2 systems.

The POS iPad is a system that is used by front-stage workers as they interface with customers who are bringing in containers to be recycled. I asked 4 participants to perform the following tasks without training materials:

Identify if container is recyclable 67%
Get units ready 50%
Activate units 100%
Close Unit 50%