Thinking time

I went to the post office at lunch time. Lots of other people did too, so it was quite busy.

For the last few years, this post office has had a fancy queuing system (though it now no longer seems to require a dedicated member of staff to explain the self service options, which is progress of a kind). I took my ticket and prepared to wait.

The permit’s in the post

The question of whether there should be a local version of the Government Digital Service rumbles on. I wrote about it a couple of months ago, and lots of other people have too, most of them far more expert on the question than I am. That amounts to a lot of well-informed and passionate commentary, […]

Users: an addendum

The Facebook research furore burst just after my post last week on the connotations of ‘people’, ‘customers’ and ‘users’. Benjamin Ellis’s thoughtfully furious post is a powerful account of the affair, including this comment on the use of ‘users’: Perhaps we need to stop using the term ‘users‘ just as psychologists stopped using the word ‘subjects‘. […]

We, the people

Let’s put this as neutrally as possible. People interact with public services. Now, here’s a simple question: what should we call those people – and why? Perhaps it’s not such a simple question after all. They – we – are many things. We are patients, customers, passengers, swimmers, clients, taxpayers, claimants  and more (as well […]

Winning the raffle

I went to my local council’s customer service centre this morning. The service was broken, and it worked much better. That’s a slightly odd finding, with some interesting implications. I wrote about the same experience a couple of years ago, when everything was working as it was designed to, including the fiendishly clever automatic ticketing […]


There’s an old adage that an unhappy customer will tell ten people about the bad service they have received. If that was ever true, it is startling how quickly and comprehensively it is untrue now. Here’s a little story unfolding in front of our eyes. The starting point is Helen Lippell being on the receiving […]

Design integrity

Designing complex systems is complicated. Sometimes there are interactions between the pieces which don’t quite join up, customer journeys which turn out to have structural obstacles. Some of that can be obscured or avoided through good interface design, but sometimes the underlying ugliness just pokes through. This screen marks the successful end of a transaction. […]