3 \ Why is empathy and being human-centred important?

In this episode, we meet leading service designer Anni Leppänen, who works at the City of Helsinki. Anni leads the development of the city's digital customer experience and she is the founder of the Public Designers network, a network for public sector designers. Anni has solid experience in utilising empathy and human-centred methods in the development of public sector services.

In the episode, we delve deeper into empathy and people-centredness and we think about why these are also important aspects in the design of cities. The episode also includes e.g. a concrete example of using empathy during the Hel.fi website renewal.

"A demographic segment or thinking about target groups doesn´t tell us enough about people in a rich and diverse way, that´s why these other tools were also needed. It was amazing to see how the personalities and stories created through the research phase acted as a driver of empathy."

Material recommendations by Anni:

Good Services: How to design services that work

Lou Downe, BIS Publishers B.V.

Short summary of the episode:

Understanding the daily lives of citisens is crucial when developing services for them. Anni Leppänen emphasizes the importance of comprehensively understanding the diverse experiences of citisens and cultivating empathy towards them. One effective method she suggests is creating personas. Additionally, collaboration and information sharing among the city's various operators are crucial when developing the city's services. By employing design methods, these different parties can come together and create services that prioritize the needs of the city's residents.

Anni also introduces the concept of theme thinking. It recognizes that service paths are varied, and citisens encounter multiple city actors while utilizing a service. Anni believes that services should be considered within different themes. For example, in Helsinki, theme profiles were developed to understand how people use the city's website and how it integrates into their lives. These theme-based personas focus on specific themes, addressing the issues and behaviors related to them. In contrast, general customer personas provide a holistic view of a person as a citizen, independent of the services they use.

Looking ahead, Anni hopes to involve more city employees in interviewing, observing, and conducting customer research. By immersing themselves in the world of the customers, service developers can build empathy towards citisens, leading to enhanced services for users. According to her experience people value these real life encounters and they feel that they get completely new perspective to their work.

Guest: Anni Leppänen, Lead Service Designer, City of Helsinki

Material recommendations by Anni:

Good Services: How to design services that work

Lou Downe, BIS Publishers B.V.

Short summary of the episode:

Understanding the daily lives of citisens is crucial when developing services for them. Anni Leppänen emphasizes the importance of comprehensively understanding the diverse experiences of citisens and cultivating empathy towards them. One effective method she suggests is creating personas. Additionally, collaboration and information sharing among the city's various operators are crucial when developing the city's services. By employing design methods, these different parties can come together and create services that prioritize the needs of the city's residents.

Anni also introduces the concept of theme thinking. It recognizes that service paths are varied, and citisens encounter multiple city actors while utilizing a service. Anni believes that services should be considered within different themes. For example, in Helsinki, theme profiles were developed to understand how people use the city's website and how it integrates into their lives. These theme-based personas focus on specific themes, addressing the issues and behaviors related to them. In contrast, general customer personas provide a holistic view of a person as a citizen, independent of the services they use.

Looking ahead, Anni hopes to involve more city employees in interviewing, observing, and conducting customer research. By immersing themselves in the world of the customers, service developers can build empathy towards citisens, leading to enhanced services for users. According to her experience people value these real life encounters and they feel that they get completely new perspective to their work.

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