Challenges and opportunities
Kent County Council’s (KCC) innovative Gateway programme was designed to reshape how residents access public services. Gateways are one-stop-shops in Kent’s major towns that allow access to a range of services under one roof. With two Gateways running and another three planned to open, KCC asked Engine and the Social Innovation Lab for Kent (SILK) to refine the Gateway proposition to ensure consistent customer service across all locations.
Engine and SILK worked with Gateway staff and customers to gain key insights and establish a culture of customer-centeredness and collaboration. We developed a workshop and service planning tool, “Insight to Idea” (I-to-I), to support the arrangement of staff from different organisations and agencies working together to provide the best possible services.
What we did
SILK and Engine used key customer insights from the two operational Gateways and gathered further customer feedback. This helped to clarify the demographics of the audience and their views on staff, information and environments. The team then interviewed staff for their perspectives on internal operations and the integration of other services within the Gateway.
The insights informed the project’s vision: to improve the ability to respond to customers’ needs. This would also address service delivery by empowering frontline staff to enrich and improve experiences themselves. SILK and Engine structured a process to develop a workshop and service planning tool, “Insight to Idea” (I-to-I). This supported staff to facilitate their own co-creation sessions to improve Gateway services, create dialogue across teams at different levels, and build capacity and a culture of service innovation tailored to the needs of local residents. The process also provided a fresh approach from traditional project management tools, demonstrating the shift from the transactional to the transformational, to manage real change based on key insights.
The I-to-I tool was tested and refined in co-design workshops, including Service Advisors, Registrars, and the original Gateway development team. We used several engagement tools, including scenarios, personas and customer journey maps, for different needs, such as “choice” (Internet, courses, volunteering) and “necessity” (housing, benefits, bereavement). The teams also identified current and future challenges for the Gateways, such as more customers, new services and capitalising on technology.
Sessions were scheduled for the new Gateway locations, facilitated by existing Gateway staff from the co-design teams. The I-to-I tool was delivered with supporting templates and guidelines for co-development, defining clear actions, and tips for facilitators.
The project served as a demonstration of the potential of working across organisations and proved to be an effective way of sharing expertise and building awareness of the Gateway offer. Beyond instigating a new approach to working together, this work provided a mechanism for frontline staff to adopt an effective tool for creative collaboration and to stimulate innovation within each Gateway location, providing the best possible services to residents.
There are now nine Gateway locations across Kent and two mobile Gateways, meeting needs with great customer services for residents across the county.