Our work at FutureGov is emotional. Focusing on emotion and the human element helps us to create value in our outputs and better outcomes for our users. Human emotions are powerful and we want to face each problem one emotional user journey at a time.

Over the weekend I was listening to an NPR podcast called ‘Hidden Brain’. The episode I listened to was called ‘I’m Right, You’re Wrong’ and within it was this quote:

You can control other people’s states of mind if you elicit an emotional response, you can change their perceptions and they will take information onboard.

This became more apparent during a recent show and tell.

Highlighting a different perspective

Last week at our fourth Show and Tell as part of our Adult Services Review with North East Lincolnshire Council, we reviewed and presented our latest research findings. In a full room, we shared where we’ve been and who we’ve spoken too, including service users and service professionals.

After talking through network diagrams, behavioural profiles, empathy maps and a huge ‘as is’ journey, we shared with the team a more granular journey. This journey came from the perspective of a user who had experienced many touchpoints within adult social care over an extended period of time.

We pitched the user’s journey against a curve of emotions that the user battled. Along the timeline, we used post-it notes to show happy, confused and sad faces across each touchpoint. It was a simple process that helped visualise the user’s pain points and understand their emotional journey. Yet, we saw some puzzled looks around the room.

A member of the team asked why the user journey was “missing” a touchpoint — the user journey did not show seeing a general practitioner as part of their process to care. The user hadn’t seen this interaction as an important moment in their journey, and to the professional, it wasn’t clear that their experience with the service was different from the users.

And this is where the importance lies. At this moment, we highlighted the different priorities between the service provider and the end-user. You, the service provider, might know your service inside and out, considering certain moments more important than others. But in all actuality, this is likely different from the end user’s perspective. They might be completely different views.

We can’t expect the user to view the service and touchpoints in the same way. When we make assumptions and expectations on behalf of the user, we prioritise what we think is important, rather than listening to and prioritising the moments important to the user. We must remember to listen.

The mood in the room changed. It was a pivotal moment. This journey became an emotional journey, one that was instantly easier to relate to.

Having empathy

In my experience, service professionals love to discuss council services from their own perspective. And why not? They’re the professionals. They know what is provided, why it’s provided, who needs it and can point out where the service isn’t working to support that need. But, that’s not why we’re here. We shouldn’t only see things from a professional point of view.

Through our work at FutureGov, we’re constantly looking at how we help councils and professionals to put themselves in the user’s world. It’s something we can only do by eliciting an emotional response. We have to empathise with the end-user. Only from this position can we understand the lens through which we need to view our services.

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