For U, With U

For U, With U is a toolkit that is designed for, and with, inclusivity. We use storytelling to help regulators to walk in the shoes of their consumers. With this toolkit, we aim to facilitate a shift towards a more inclusive practises in regulatory bodies.
Yu-Hsuan (Sharon) Ho
Sharanya Ramesh
Changxin Zheng
Fair by Design
Designing for Inclusivity in Regulation
The aim of this project is to help Fair By Design create a sustainable, participatory system for regulators to engage with and understand different types of consumers when making decisions. We managed Fair By Design's partnerships with their key stakeholders and designed a 3-step approach to starting - and utilising - an inclusive mindset in regulatory bodies. This is so that markets can be more inclusive and more readily meet the needs of vulnerable consumers in the UK.
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A look at poverty premium
In the UK, 14 million people who live in poverty pay extra for essential goods and services such as energy, loans, insurance. For example, people living in poverty would prefer using prepayment meters to control their spending, but they have to pay more for this payment method. These extra costs – the poverty premium – lock people in a cycle of poverty. For each consumer, he/she will be subject to the aggregate impact of regulations from multiple regulators, and for these regulatory bodies, this aggregation is not evident. To address this, more inclusivity is needed in the decision-making across regulatory bodies. However, inclusivity and empathy are accepted in theory but does not reflect in practice. We want to bring the voices of people with lived experience to help regulators understand their situation and needs, how they make decisions, and therefore drive a more inclusive regulatory practise.

Key considerations and breakthroughs

This won’t be easy. Some regulators are more technical, they don't see how their work affects the consumer and that vulnerable consumers make decisions differently from what they perceive to be viable. They understand numbers and statistics. Knowing the consumers beyond numbers and through stories is hard to present in big data. This makes it challenging for the regulator to walk in the consumer’s shoes. Bringing the aggregate impact of regulations on vulnerable consumers’ through stories will help them see people as people, not data. To achieve this, shared and visualised language is needed to initiate the right conversations. At the same time, we want to ensure that whatever we introduce is sustainable in the long term. The question becomes: How might we convey the relevance of lived stories to help regulators make inclusivity a regular practice?

Bringing inclusivity in 3 steps

To sustain the inclusive practise, we must comply with how the regulation system operates. We decided to innovate on the status quo, rather than disrupt it. We created a series of small interventions in our proposal - For U, With U, which is a toolkit designed for, and with, inclusivity. Our approach is broken down into three main stages. First, gaining the interest of regulators and channeling it into action, by showcasing an empathy video, a series of personas, an interactive game, and a series of customer journey maps. All of them are inspired by real stories of vulnerable consumers from our primary research. These can help regulators understand how vulnerable consumers live, think, and decide. Second, make it a practice by promoting obligationary practice, improving regularity, and giving recognition. Finally, staying relevant is the key to sustainability, so we also created templates to update the above tools regularly.

Relook at empathy
We looked at design tools with the lens of constant change and worked to accommodate this. Personas and Customer Journey Maps are useful in the design process to create a sense of empathy and break down key moments in the journeys of the people we design for. We saw the potential to also use them as conversation tools, creating a variety of personas but also leaving some personas only half-filled to highlight the lack of research and representation. We wanted to adapt to the regulator’s need to interact with their consumers and made our persona’s stories interactive. Our customer journeys were conversation pieces that made it easier to visualise decision-making points and convey the impact in a universal language. These tools were made to evolve with the evolving ecosystem of regulations. Our clients have been given the templates and tools so that the stories can adapt to changing needs.
Design process and challenges
As with any project in the field of service design, our role was to facilitate the right conversations and document impactful stories. Our work was extremely collaborative. Doing most of our work online, we managed the client’s expectations and introduced them to our collaborative ways of working on platforms such as zoom, miro, google documents, whimsical and typeform. We worked alongside our client’s partners and found ways to cater to their needs while also leveraging the partnerships to access vulnerable communities. The process of operating entirely online especially when dealing with sensitive subjects such as poverty and financial vulnerability was challenging, but through perseverance, the breakthroughs and insights gathered have been invaluable. This willingness to adapt to change and shifting expectations allowed us to quickly accommodate the ever-changing world in 2020 and we continued to find ways to create, test, and build strong relationships with the stakeholders in this ecosystem.
special thanks
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