Victorian Government Customer Service Centres

  • 2015

  • Service
    Public Sector Services

Designed By:

  • Thick

Commissioned By:

Victorian Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet

Designed In:


There are literally hundreds of life events that require Victorian citizens to transact with the public service. Each has the potential to make their life more difficult than it should be and often when they need it least. With so many government departments, it can be confusing and bewildering to even decide where to begin.

The Victorian Government asked us to improve the way every Victorian citizen interacts with the public service by prototyping two one-stop-shop service centres where people could take care of any government transaction.

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  • Using floorplan layouts developed with FigureGround architects, we quickly built one-to-one scale service centres within our warehouse/studio. We worked this way to get a sense of how customers flowed through the space, allowing us to change layouts and test new ideas quickly and easily. This allowed us to enact service walkthroughs, and highlight any potential pain points. We tested and learned in a full-scale, simulated environment, allowing for rapid improvement to the entire system of service. Service deficiencies and customer pain points were identified quickly and addressed in near real-time—decisions were made in a far more 'real' context and environment.

  • A complete customer and brand experience was designed from scratch. From the way people flow through the space, the information architecture of digital touchpoints, to furniture design, fabrication and install. Street-level signage, internal wayfinding and motion design (for street-facing LCD screens) were all important brand design considerations for the experience, as were uniforms, digital screen designs, newspaper advertisements and promotional posters. Due to our rapid prototyping approach, we were able to identify and design around pain points quickly and early, allowing us more time finessing the look and feel of the spaces and building a highly polished user interface for people to interact with.

  • The design process started with our team talking with Victorians about their relationship with government transactions. By building empathy with citizens, we were able to identify the important things that caused friction and design a better experience. Importantly, we spoke primarily with older citizens, recent migrants and those with low technological literacy. Service walkthroughs were enacted with real concierges which ensured interactions in the shopfronts were efficient and enjoyable for both parties. Digital experiences also went through many iterations and were designed with elegance and simplicity at the fore. User testing demonstrated that user interfaces were sufficiently invisible.

  • By measuring the service preferences of thousands of citizens we are able to form a much more realistic picture of how and where to improve the current mode of service delivery. These results form part of a business case for the State of Victoria to proceed (or otherwise) with a service capability that is far more efficient for the people of Victoria. There is potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in savings by designing a more efficient and enjoyable way to transact with the government.

    The service centres have been specifically designed to reduce the complexity involved in interacting with the government. There are enormous environmental and fiscal benefits to building more efficient modes of service provision. Although this project was a short term trial, further financial and environmental modelling will take place over the coming months. Most importantly, our team has introduced an agile, efficient and lean methodology into the ranks of government. By working in this manner on more and more projects, government can make better decisions in the interest of its citizens, at far lower cost and for greater societal benefit.

    A major innovation used in the project was the rapid production of one-to-one scale service centres within our warehouse studio. We used cardboard boxes to build out the models, getting a sense of how customers flowed through the space, and allowing us to change layouts and test the effects quickly and easily. Building a scale model and simulating customer interaction (in the form of service walkthroughs) also allowed our team to optimise the placement and performance of analytics hardware and adjust the layout and scale of furniture.

    This project has the potential to influence the way that government deals with all Victorians. For example, by building a better understand of the service preferences of recent migrants, the elderly and people with physical disabilities, we can build a more inclusive transaction experience. More broadly, large monetary and environmental gains can be made by moving to a single point of interaction with the government.