The Good Services Scale is a tool that was developed by Lou Downe, the director of design and transformation for land and housing at the UK government. It allows you to assess the quality of your service using the 15 principles of good service design.
With the redesigned GlobalScot service about to go into public beta, I thought it would be a good time to use the Good Services Scale to assess how well the service is performing and where it needs to be improved.
The GlobalScot network aims to connect organisations in Scotland with worldwide business and community leaders who can offer one-to-one support, global marketing knowledge and new contacts.
How to use the Good Services Scale:
- Download the Good Services Scale in Google Sheets, Excel, PDF or Miro format.
- Go through each principle and assign it a score from 0-4 depending on how well your service is performing against that principle, with 0 being the lowest (it is not possible for users to do this) and 4 being the best (all users can do this easily and consistently).
- Describe what ‘good’ would look like for your service. This is the second comment column to fill in, but I found it helpful to think about the ideal scenario first.
- Describe what your service is failing to do to meet that principle.
- Describe what’s stopping your service from achieving this.
- Describe what you could do to change it.
Your total score will add up to a number between 0-60, with the top level ‘Good’ being a score of 50-60 points.
How we used the Good Services Scale to evaluate GlobalScot
Because our team had never used the Good Services Scale before, I had a go at using it myself first to test it out. When I was scoring the service against the 15 principles, I thought about the main things a user can do with the GlobalScot service:
- Register to join the network
- Request help from a GlobalScot/respond to a help request from a business member
- Send direct messages to other members
- Post a general request to the community feed
- Take part in an event
- Find information to help them grow their business overseas
As I mentioned above, I started off by writing down what good looks like for each principle. This made it easier for me to see where the service might be letting users down.
The result was mostly positive – the service got a score of 52, which put it within the ‘Good’ range. However, there were a few areas where I thought the service might be failing users:
Principle 1 – Be easy to find
The name ‘GlobalScot’ doesn’t tell users what the service does. The service has been around for a long time and will have some brand recognition, but not all businesses will be familiar with it. If they were searching for support with growing their business overseas or exporting, they might not come across it.
Principle 5 – Work in a way that is familiar
If a user wants to report a post that is inappropriate, the link to do this is in the left-hand navigation under a list of filters, rather than on the post itself, which is what you would expect if you use sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.
There’s also an issue with one of the notifications. A notification pops up for users if one of their chats with a GlobalScot has gone quiet and says, ‘Your chat with X has gone quiet. Let us know if you’re still working together’. This is because we want users to close completed help requests so we can get them to provide feedback on how they went
There should be a way for users to tell us either yes, that GlobalScot and I are still working together, or no, we’re not. But the notification just takes the user to the chat area, and their only option is to end the request. The site behaves in a way that you wouldn’t expect.
Principle 6 – Require no prior knowledge to use
This principle states that ‘The service is equally as findable and usable by someone with no prior knowledge of the service as it is by someone who does have previous experience’. Usable? Yes. Findable? No, because of the issues with principle 1.
Principle 9 – Be consistent throughout
When we started this project, we initially thought that we would route any enquiries through our central enquiry team via their helpine and our generic contact us form. However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, they were overloaded with enquiries and weren’t sure if they could support any other projects. We had to come up with another solution, so we decided to use a ticketing system to help triage enquiries. The issue with this is that it has a different look and feel to the rest of the site, so it’s not consistent.
Principle 11 – Be equally usable by everyone
The phone number for the service is easy to find before users log in, but once they log in the only contact option they have is to submit an enquiry via the ticketing system. That might exclude some users who, for whatever reason, can’t use the web form.
Principle 15 – Make it easy to get human assistance
As I mentioned with principle 11, we don’t make it easy for users to speak to a human once they are logged in.
What happened next
I set up a session with the rest of the project team to go through the Good Services Scale to see if they agreed with my assessment and if they had anything else to add.
We also chatted through what we could do to address some of the issues that I found. Luckily, most of them are pretty easy to fix. We have a plans to update the way that users report a post and let us know if they’re still working with someone if their chat has gone quiet. We’re also going to make sure that users can find the phone number after they’re logged in. And we’re going to get in touch with our enquiry team in a few months to see if they have the capacity to support the service, so we can stop using the ticketing system.
It’s unlikely that we will change the name of the service because it has been around for so long. But we’re looking at ways to ensure that the service is easier to find, like signposting to it at the right stages of the user journey on the Scottish Enterprise website, and ensuring that it’s returned in relevant searches on the FindBusinessSupport website.
The project team found the Good Services Scale to be a really useful way to evaluate how our service is performing. It also helped us see that – despite a few things that could be improved – we’ve actually built a really good service. We’re planning to repeat the process again in a few months so we can track our progress. In fact, everyone was so impressed with the Good Services Scale that the service design team is talking about using it to evaluate ALL of our services. Now we just need to figure out what all of our services are…