https://insidehmcts.blog.gov.uk/2019/10/03/using-user-experience-principles-in-the-administration-of-justice/

Using user experience principles in the administration of justice


[English] - [Cymraeg]

When I first arrived at HMCTS four years ago, we weren’t sure what was important to our users. We knew they wanted to get a decision from a judge, or to “win” their case. And we assumed that they wouldn’t want to wait forever to get that. But beyond that, we weren’t sure what we should be prioritising to improve their experience of our services, particularly as we started to bring more services online. So to find out more, we conducted some experience research into our users (see our summary). What we found was fascinating – and many colleagues told us that it made sense and fitted with their own experience.

Two woman standing talking in court public waiting area

Firstly, many people were unsure what to expect of their court or tribunal experience, and that uncertainty only added to the stress at a time that was difficult anyway. Those who had an idea, often found reality to be different. A lot of people had quite unrealistic expectations from watching TV shows, or YouTube videos. For the record – UK judges do not use a gavel, and many of our hearing rooms look a bit like a meeting room in an office. Many people had a more realistic impression from friends or relatives who had had their own experiences. Overall people expected it to be emotionally difficult and formal, but fair.

Did people generally have a good experience?

Well yes, just over half said their experience was very or fairly good, and a further 16% said it was neutral. But that leaves over a quarter of people who had a negative experience, which in our minds was far too many. So what could we do to improve our users’ experience?

To start with, we can manage people’s expectations better. We generally found that people whose experience matched their expectations were more positive. So we’ve started to write letters that explain more clearly what people can expect, for example about how long they’ll have to wait, what they should wear, and whether they can bring drinks and food. We’re exploring using text messages to remind people about their hearings, and to update them on the progression of their case. These simple prompts help to reduce the anxiety of stepping into an unknown situation.  When you receive a party invitation, you typically are told the dress code; why should a court or tribunal hearing give you less info?

We also looked at what drives a good experience

Our findings would not be surprising to anyone who has studied procedural justice. More than anything else, even more than getting the outcome they wanted, is that people wanted to be heard – this is what people mean when they say they “want their day in court”. They wanted to be heard both literally and emotionally – in other words they wanted to speak to a member of staff when they needed to, and they also wanted us to understand the problems they were facing.

Well this is a big problem to solve. We have fewer staff than we used to, and we have really old telephone systems in most of our court buildings. Often, if staff are busy, the phone can ring and ring. So we’ve started to centralise our calls into courts and tribunals service centres, where we have more modern telephone systems, which means that you’re more likely to be able to speak to someone. And this leaves our colleagues in court and tribunal buildings with more time for you in person. We’re always hearing feedback that our staff are empathetic and helpful – we’re now working on more ways to help them to help people, and to reward them when they do so. For example, our “human voice of justice” approach to communication is helping staff to translate often complex processes into something easier to understand. And you can now let us know when a member of staff has been particularly kind or helpful, and we’ll make sure that colleague gets your thanks.

People who use the courts and tribunals are often going through a tough time in their lives. We can’t take that away – but we can at least help you to feel heard through the process, and give you the information you need, when you need it.

In a blog post next week, my colleague Olivia Jorgensen-Aitchison will talk about the important work that her team does in listening directly to people who use our services through a range of engagement groups.


[English] - [Cymraeg]

Defnyddio profiadau defnyddwyr wrth weinyddu cyfiawnder

Pan ddechreuais i weithio i Wasanaeth Llysoedd a Thribiwnlysoedd EM (GLlTEM) am y tro cyntaf bedair blynedd yn ôl, doedden ni ddim yn siŵr beth oedd yn bwysig i'n defnyddwyr. Roeddem yn gwybod eu bod arnynt eisiau i farnwr wneud penderfyniad mewn perthynas â’u hachos, neu "ennill" eu hachos, ac roeddem yn rhagdybio na fyddent yn fodlon aros am byth i gael hynny. Y tu hwnt i hynny, nid oeddem yn siŵr beth ddylid ei flaenoriaethu i wella eu profiad o'n gwasanaethau, yn enwedig wrth inni ddechrau cyflwyno mwy o wasanaethau ar-lein. Felly, i gael gwybod mwy, cynhaliwyd rhywfaint o waith ymchwil gyda’n defnyddwyr (gallwch weld ein crynodeb). Roedd yr hyn a welsom yn ddiddorol dros ben – a dywedodd llawer o gydweithwyr wrthym ei fod yn gwneud synnwyr ac yn cyd-fynd â'u profiadau hwythau.

I ddechrau, roedd llawer o bobl yn ansicr o beth i'w ddisgwyl o'u profiad yn y llys neu’r tribiwnlys, ac roedd yr ansicrwydd hwnnw'n ychwanegu at y straen a oedd yno’n barod. Roedd y rhai hynny a oedd yn meddwl eu bod yn gwybod beth i’w ddisgwyl yn aml yn gweld realiti'n wahanol. Roedd gan lawer o bobl ddisgwyliadau eithaf afrealistig o wylio sioeau teledu, neu fideos ar YouTube. Er gwybodaeth – nid yw barnwyr y DU yn defnyddio morthwyl, ac mae llawer o'n hystafelloedd gwrandawiadau yn edrych ychydig fel ystafell gyfarfod mewn swyddfa. Cafodd llawer o bobl argraff fwy realistig gan gyfeillion neu berthnasau a oedd wedi cael eu profiadau eu hunain. Ar y cyfan roedd pobl yn disgwyl iddi fod yn anodd yn emosiynol ac yn ffurfiol, ond yn deg.

A oedd pobl yn cael profiad da yn gyffredinol?

Oedd, dywedodd ychydig dros hanner fod eu profiad yn dda iawn neu'n eithaf da, a dywedodd 16% arall ei fod yn niwtral. Ond mae hynny'n gadael dros chwarter y bobl a gafodd brofiad negyddol, sy’n llawer gormod yn ei llygaid ni. Felly beth allwn ni ei wneud i wella profiad ein defnyddwyr?

I ddechrau, gallwn reoli disgwyliadau pobl yn well. Yn gyffredinol, canfuwyd fod y bobl yr oedd eu profiad yn cyfateb i'w disgwyliadau yn fwy cadarnhaol. Felly, rydym ni wedi dechrau ysgrifennu llythyrau sy'n esbonio'n gliriach yr hyn y gall pobl ei ddisgwyl, er enghraifft, am ba mor hir y bydd rhaid iddyn nhw aros, beth ddylen nhw ei wisgo, ac a ydyn nhw'n gallu dod â bwyd a diod gyda nhw ac ati. Rydym yn ystyried defnyddio negeseuon testun i atgoffa pobl i fynychu eu gwrandawiadau, ac i roi'r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf iddynt am gynnydd eu hachos. Bydd yr ysgogiadau syml hyn yn eu helpu i deimlo’n fwy cartrefol mewn sefyllfa ddiarth.  Pan fyddwch yn cael gwahoddiad i barti, fel arfer byddwch yn cael gwybod am y cod gwisg; pam y dylai llys neu dribiwnlys roi llai o wybodaeth i chi?

Buom hefyd yn edrych ar yr hyn sy'n cael ei ystyried yn brofiad da.

Ni fyddai ein canfyddiadau yn syndod i unrhyw un sydd wedi astudio cyfiawnder gweithdrefnol. Yn fwy na dim arall, hyd yn oed yn bwysicach na chael y canlyniad roedden nhw ei eisiau, mae arnynt eisiau’r cyfle i roi eu barn - dyma beth mae pobl yn ei olygu pan fyddan nhw'n dweud eu bod "eisiau cael eu diwrnod yn y llys". Roeddent eisiau i rywun wrando arnynt - mewn geiriau eraill roeddent eisiau siarad ag aelod o staff pan oedd angen hynny, ac roeddent hefyd eisiau inni ddeall y problemau yr oeddent yn eu hwynebu.

Mae hon yn broblem fawr i’w datrys. Mae gennym lai o staff nag yr arfer, ac mae gennym hen systemau ffôn yn y rhan fwyaf o’n llysoedd. Yn aml, os yw staff yn brysur, gall y ffôn ganu a chanu. Felly rydyn ni wedi dechrau canoli ein galwadau mewn canolfannau gwasanaeth llysoedd a thribiwnlysoedd, lle mae gennym ni systemau ffôn mwy modern, sy'n golygu eich bod chi'n fwy tebygol o allu siarad â rhywun. Mae hyn yn golygu bod gan ein cydweithwyr yn y llysoedd a'r tribiwnlysoedd fwy o amser i siarad â chi’n bersonol. Rydym bob amser yn cael adborth yn dweud bod ein staff yn empathig ac yn gymwynasgar - rydym bellach yn gweithio ar fwy o ffyrdd i’n staff helpu pobl, a'u gwobrwyo pan fyddant yn gwneud hynny. Er enghraifft, mae’r cynllun "human vioce of justice" wedi ein helpu i gyfathrebu a throsi prosesau sy'n aml yn gymhleth yn rhywbeth haws i'w ddeall. A gallwch yn awr roi gwybod inni pan fydd aelod o staff wedi bod yn garedig neu o gymorth, a byddwn yn gwneud yn siŵr bod yr aelod hwnnw o staff yn gwybod eich bod yn ddiolchgar.

Mae pobl sy'n defnyddio'r llysoedd a'r tribiwnlysoedd yn aml yn mynd drwy gyfnod anodd yn eu bywydau. Ni allwn leddfu’r baich hwnnw – ond gallwn o leiaf eich helpu i deimlo eich bod yn cael eich helpu drwy'r broses, a rhoi'r wybodaeth sydd ei hangen arnoch, pan fydd ei hangen arnoch.

Mewn post blog yr wythnos nesaf, bydd fy nghyd-Aelod Olivia Jorgensen-Aitchison yn siarad am y gwaith pwysig y mae ei thîm yn ei wneud wrth wrando’n uniongyrchol ar bobl sy’n defnyddio ein gwasanaethau trwy ystod o grwpiau ymgysylltu.

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5 comments

  1. Comment by Anon posted on

    It's great to centralise call centres so that someone answers the phone. However, it also needs to be recognised that sometimes the call centre staff cannot help and there needs to be a mechanism to query the position with the staff at the actual Court. For instance, the call centre staff cannot confirm if the Court have received a specific letter and that it has been placed on the Court file or cannot indicate when an urgent letter will be responded to . Often the response is that the Court is working x days in arrears and we just have to wait. Whilst this works in the majority of the cases there does need to be a mechanism for coping with exceptions.

    • Replies to Anon>

      Comment by Sidonie Kingsmill posted on

      Hi Anon - thanks for reading my blog, and caring enough to write a comment! You're absolutely right, our current business processes (many of which are use paper and need to be managed in a specific location) mean that there are still many reasons a person would need to call a court or tribunal building. As more and more of our business can be conducted online (e.g. when receipt of letters can be recorded on a central shared case system), these reasons should reduce. However, as you say, there may always be exceptions, and there does need to be an effective mechanism for coping with these. Best, Sidonie

  2. Comment by Charles Cooper posted on

    Hi Sidonie
    Your blog post is very useful. I would like to praise the work done by a HCMTS colleague. How do I do this?
    Best
    Charlie Cooper

    • Replies to Charles Cooper>

      Comment by Sidonie Kingsmill posted on

      Thank you Charlie. You can call, email, write a letter or tell us in person at one of our court or tribunal buildings. We're hoping to create an online form soon.

      You can find phone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses on court & tribunal finder here (copy and paste if you can't click through):
      https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/search/

      The more details you can provide the more likely we are to get your praise to the right colleague - e.g. name of colleague (even just first name), time of interaction, and "channel" - ie whether you were on the phone with a colleague, or in a building.

      Best,
      Sidonie

      • Replies to Sidonie Kingsmill>

        Comment by Charlie Cooper posted on

        Hi Sidonie
        Thank you for getting back to me. I note and thank you for the help.
        I do think you are in catch 22 type situation, when i've had a "customer service" problem; i've been told that I can complain, all good but I've been told that the complaint email is subject to your response times' guidelines, (at the County Court of Central London, recently 55 days).
        So I've been in the Kafkaesque situation of my customer enquiry not being resolved until after the court hearing date!
        It's a complex situation. But, the last thing I want to do is to complain or give my feedback; the system seems to lack the capacity to deal with anything, but the most urgent; it must be like being in a battlefield hospital, in a permanent state of medical triage of the casualties! My sympathies to the HMCTS team!