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October 25, 2021

Service Design Case Study: BC Assessment Complaint Process

Understanding the service exchanges between an organization and its customers can help to better align customer needs with a company's processes, and where there are exchange friction points, these can serve as opportunities to correct organizational shortcomings, improve brand perception, and bridge the gap between customers and the organization.

The Ministry of Attorney General Tribunal Transformation & Supports Office (TTSO) hired Graphically Speaking to identify strategic process change opportunities for the BC Assessment Authority (BC Assessment).

Working closely with the TTSO and BC Assessment our strategists employed holistic research methods to uncover process friction points and “Service Design” improvement opportunities.
 
BC Assessment is a provincial Crown corporation that is legislated to establish and maintain an assessment roll of property values throughout the province. Property is placed in one or more of nine property classes that are typically based on the property’s use. Annually, property owners are mailed an assessment notice and valuation determined by BC Assessment.
 
Property owners seeking clarification about assessment valuations must contact BC Assessment. Alternatively, property owners, or a designate under the Assessment Act, may pursue a complaint or appeal of the assessed value undertaken by BC Assessment. The complaint process allows for the correction of erroneous valuations and omissions related to property assessments.

The Service Design Network SDN | The Service Design Network (service-design-network.org) defines Service Design as: 

"...the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants, so that the service is user-friendly, competitive and relevant to the customers."

Individuals that participated in our research included residential and commercial property owners, tax agents, BC Assessment assessors and administrators, Property Assessment Review Panel (PARP) members and administrators, and Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB) members.

Project objectives included learning about the complainant’s experience during the process to provide improved opportunities and options for meaningful transformational change.

Service Design Research Activities Include:

  • Observing telephone calls at BC Assessment offices
  • Interviewing complainants participating in the property assessment complaint and appeal process (in-person, telephone and through surveys)
  • Conducting heuristic reviews of the current online assessment review and complaint processes
  • Engaging in stakeholder meetings with user groups
  • Completing personas and journey mapping studies for residential strata and commercial property types
  • Conducting usability testing with typical site users to determine the level of satisfaction with the current online and paper engagement methods

Common themes identified throughout the course of research included additional education opportunities for participants about the complaint and appeal process, dissatisfaction with limited time allotments for hearings, increasing consistency and transparency for decision-making, and the perception of independence between BC Assessment, PARP and PAAB.
 
To enhance the property assessment complaint and appeal process a variety of options and opportunities were explored and evaluated.  We presented four options to streamline and improve the property assessment complaint and appeal process.

"Service Design is all about making the service you deliver useful, usable, efficient, effective and desirable."
The UK Design Council

The Outcome:

Our research approach uncovered valuable service design improvements both in the short and long term. Our team identified several areas of improvement and recommended some progressive technological solutions.  
 
Incremental changes to the process may be more achievable in the short term as it modifies, adjusts, or refines the status quo. However, minor changes do not provide true innovation or lasting improvement. Modernization of the process allows for innovative thinking, development of solutions that are future-focused, and smoother implementation of advanced technological tools that will make the system more transparent, accessible, and fair.

If you are looking to improve service delivery through digital transformation in your organization our strategists and designers can help.

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