Case Study

Reducing Failure Demand


Our London borough client was recording an increase in the number of customer complaints caused by failure demand throughout the services. Data collected showed that the top three reasons for complaints were:


  1. Unclear procedures

  2. Decisions not clearly explained to the customer

  3. Errors in the process


The Human Engine team used our Drive Methodology to implement a 12-week Improvement Drive to overcome the key business problems. This is a 4-step process to deliver a project, which maintains momentum throughout and promotes employee-led change.

Outputs and Outcomes

After 12 weeks, the project had implemented:

  • Resource Book: The team identified an inconsistency of procedures across teams as a reason that contributed to complaints and ongoing failure demand. This can be through incorrect or inconsistent advice given to customers or policy changes that are not communicated effectively with officers. To overcome this, the team designed a ‘Resource Book’ that will act as a one-stop-shop for officers. This was designed to include refreshed and updated policy and guidance to officers on services across Customer Services and remove contradictory sources of information previously used by officers.

  • Letters and Correspondence: An impactful way to try to reduce failure demand from a lack of explanation is to change the way information is provided and presented to customers. The project team, redesigned letter and correspondence templates to ensure the most important information is presented up-front and any actions the council requires of the customer are made very clear. This solution was also trialled within the 12 weeks.

Each of the outputs were jointly designed with the team and tested with key stakeholders through focus groups and workshops.

The associated benefits of the Improvement Drive have been both quantitative and qualitative: 

  1. During the trial period of the refreshed approach to correspondence, there was a follow up contact rate by the customer to the council of just under 20% despite 81% of cases being disadvantageous for the customer 

  2. There was a reduction in disputes by the customer to 5%

  3. Of the cases trialled, there were zero complaints to the council

  4. An updated and accessible guide for officers to use as a one-stop information hub

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