Meals on Wheels Service Design
Meals on Wheels is a service that delivers meals to elderly or disabled persons who are unable to prepare meals. Currently, the service relies primarily on paper forms as a primary means of communication between organization administrators and volunteers. Volunteers use forms to receive their schedules to deliver food to each customer for that day. This process costs the organization both time and money.
To conserve resources and develop a faster and more efficient means of communication, I worked as part of a team to develop a digital solution that will improve the service process. Our goal was to create a more streamlined way for volunteers to receive information from program administrators and communicate directly with customers.
We began by identifying areas where we needed more information about the service and brainstorming questions that we had for the organization. Carl Buonodono, the Nutrition Director for Meals on Wheels Lansing branch at the local Tri-County Office for Aging, provided us with an organization chart that was used to get a better sense of the higher-level organization of the program.
Service Ecology Map
After gaining a better sense of the interactions between stakeholders in the organization, we began diagramming a service ecology map to visualize these interactions of people. This ecology map identifies the key relationships between the enterprise, agents, and users of the service. The enterprise receives information from agents who work for the organization, and these agents then provide resources to Meals on Wheels users. We narrowed down this process so that it was as simplified and streamlined as possible.
The next step in the process was to create a service blueprint that captures the bigger picture of the organization. The blueprint is used to connect all the channels and touchpoints of the customer journey and backstage activities that are necessary for the service to operate. In drafting our service blueprint, we took in to consideration the front stage means of interaction between Meals on Wheels volunteers and the customer, as well as the touchpoints used to make these interactions possible. We also took a look at the behind the scenes processes that happen within the organization. The map can be read sequentially from left to right to outline the customer journey and top down to identify the phases of the service.
After gaining a detailed view of how the service operates, we created a digital solution that will save the organization both time and money in the long term by providing a channel of communication between customers, volunteers, and Meals on Wheels administrators. The service works by a volunteer logging in, viewing a detailed list of his or her agenda, and sending a confirmation to stakeholders that the service is being delivered. This cuts down on paper waste by the company, and improves the process by streamlining the interactions between the enterprise, its agents, and users.
There are many stakeholders and complex interactions involved in delivering a service. Service design doesn’t create experiences, but rather it is used to create the conditions for experiences to happen. Thinking critically about the backstage processes behind all the interactions necessary for a service to be carried out allows us to improve the experiences of real people who are affected by a service.