Consumer Insight conference

Designing and transforming public services – the value of consumer insight and understanding user experiences

Consumer insight image
Are you a public service provider? Do you know those who use your services? Do you design your services in partnership with users? Do you understand their needs and wants? Can you predict their behaviours?

With keynote addresses from the Scottish Government, the Design Council and the Improvement Service, this conference will explore the value of ‘consumer insight’ – of public bodies gaining a greater knowledge of those who use their services – and it’s potential to help shape and inform the design and transformation of those services.
With an emphasis on sharing the lessons learned from existing practice, the event will explore:

Consumer insight and service design

  • Adopting design approaches in the Public Sector
  • Co-designing and co-creating services with service users and communities

Consumer insight and service improvements

  • The benefits of measuring user experience and levels of satisfaction
  • Using consumer insight to shape product and service design – usability testing and user journey mapping
  • Feedback-led improvements: Listening and responding to user experiences

Consumer behaviours and service demand

  • Knowing your consumer: socio-demographics and creating your consumer profile
  • Nudging behaviours: using consumer insight to shape future demand for services


CAT MACAULAY, Head of User Research and Engagement, Scottish Government
JOHN MATHERS, Chief Executive, Design Council
COLIN MAIR, Chief Executive, Improvement Service
ELAINE MELROSE, Group Director of Resources, Wheatley Group
SARAH DRUMMOND, Co-founder and Managing Director, Snook
KAREN DURNIAN, Customer Experience & Development Leader, Wheatley Group
CAROLYN HIRST, Independent consultant, Hirstworks; Lecturer in Ombudsman and Complaint Handling Practice, Queen Margaret University; Non-Executive Board member, NHS Lothian
JO MAYES, Head of Data and Customer Experience, Standard Life
LORNA WILSON, Research and Development Manager, Wheatley Group
ANDY WILLIAMS, Service Support Unit Manager, Waste & Fleet Services, The City of Edinburgh Council
TRISHA MCAULEY OBE, Consumer and public interest expert and Non-executive Director (Conference Chair)
People. Partnership. Prevention. Performance. The pillars of the Scottish Government’s public service reform agenda. Each of the four ’P’s underpins an approach, initially mapped-out by the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services, which encourages collaboration and engagement between public service providers and service users.

It is an approach which emphasises that services should be planned with, and designed around, people and communities – not delivered ‘top-down’ by providers for administrative convenience.

An approach which recognises that service users should be active partners in the design and delivery of tailored and responsive local services, rather than being passive recipients in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ culture.

And, ultimately, an approach which relies on public bodies gaining a greater knowledge of those who use their services – becoming better at understanding and meeting their needs.


Registration and morning refreshments

Chair’s introduction
Trisha McAuley OBE, Consumer and public interest expert and Non-executive Director

Welcome from the Wheatley Group
Elaine Melrose, Group Director of Resources, Wheatley Group

Keynote Address
Cat Macaulay, Head of User Research and Engagement, Scottish Government

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Consumer insight and service design

Keynote Address
“Design in the Public Sector – placing the user experience at the heart of service transformation”

John Mathers, Chief Executive, Design Council

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Using insight to drive design – how Standard Life uses customer analytics and insights to drive innovative product design and delivery
Jo Mayes, Head of Customer Data & Experience, Standard Life

Insight-driven public services – a case study
Karen Durnian, Customer Experience & Development Leader, Wheatley Group & Lorna Wilson, Research and Development Manager, Wheatley Group

Opportunities for questions and discussion


Consumer insight and service improvements

People by default: Designing services in complex systems from a human perspective

  • Forgetting digital by default and focusing on what people need
  • How to take user insight into multi-channel service design
  • Why we need to be thinking in systems
  • The importance of testing our services as journeys, not just interfaces

Sarah Drummond, Co-founder and Managing Director, Snook

Opportunities for questions and discussion

The importance of measuring customer experience and levels of satisfaction

  • The importance of understanding expectations and experience as well as capturing satisfaction rates
  • Need to link attitudinal and behavioural data
  • Being clear about purpose and focus: link to outcomes not just services in isolation
  • “Accounts management” for major/recurrent users

Colin Mair, Chief Executive, Improvement Service

Feedback-led improvements: Listening and responding to user experiences

  • Responses to Feedback can be defensive
  • Need to build and sustain a Learning Culture
  • Aim to promote Feedback-Led Innovation

Carolyn Hirst, Independent consultant, Hirstworks; Lecturer in Ombudsman and Complaint Handling Practice, Queen Margaret University; Non-Executive Board member, NHS Lothian

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Using insight to shape consumer behaviours and demand for services – a case study
Andy Williams, Service Support Unit Manager, Waste & Fleet Services, The City of Edinburgh Council

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Chair’s closing remarks

Cat Macaulay
Cat Macaulay, Head of User Research and Engagement, Scottish Government
@scotgoveconomy @operanomad
“For over 20 years I have helped people and organisations learn to make sense of the social world, and put that sense to work in product, service and technology design and innovation contexts. Companies I have collaborated with include Intel, Unilever, Microsoft, the BBC, Swisscom and NCR.

After what we now politely call a ‘portfolio career’, which took me from teaching numeracy, running a cafe, managing a leading UK news monitoring agency, organising a million dollars worth of civil engineering aid to Bosnia, and designing one of the world’s first online trademark infringement services, I fell into academia by mistake.

I took a PhD in Computing, examined by a sociologist called Richard Harper (now at Microsoft Cambridge) and though it started out being about the design of soundscapes for user interfaces, it ended up being an ethnographic study of journalists seeking information.

Starting out as an HCI and interaction design lecturer and researcher, I led the development of the BSc in Interactive Media Design at Dundee University, worked on a number of large research projects, and helped 5 people (so far) get their PhDs. In 2008 I finally realised my ambition to design and launch the world’s first masters in Design Ethnography, and have taught and talked about design ethnography in India, the USA, across Europe and in Australia.

Most recently I have moved into the exciting world of government digital services where I am enjoying the challenge of working in a new context and finding new ways to share my enthusiasm for the value of ethnographic ways of seeing the world for design and innovation.”

Specialties: Design ethnography, user research, innovation and concept design. Team leadership and project management. Teaching, training and mentoring.

John Mathers
John Mathers, Chief Executive, Design Council
“My role as CEO of Design Council is to lead it into the next chapter of our rich history that dates back to 1944. We are re-constituted as a charity and merged with CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) in 2012, giving us a unique perspective on the world of design. Our mission is to improve people’s lives through the use of design. Our work places design at the heart of stimulating business growth, helps to transform our public services and enhances places and cities to ensure a sustainable future for everyone. We advance new design thinking, encourage debate and inform government policy. Our vision is to create a better world by design.

I’ve been working for over thirty years in the brand and design industry, leading a number of marketing, brand and design consultancies in the UK and Internationally, as well as a number of roles within FMCG and retail, including Head of Brand at Safeway. I joined Design Council from an International CEO role at the Holmes & Marchant group and previously had ten years at the helm of the Brand Union (was Enterprise IG), WPP’s flagship brand design agency.

Over the last ten years, I have been actively committed to the development of the design industry, serving as President of the DBA (Design Business Association) for three years. I’ve promoted design recently with Design Council and the design community through involvement with: BEDA, The Creative Industries Council, The Warwick Commission, Creative and Cultural Skills, National Centre for Universities and Business and the Knowledge Transfer Network. With Design Council I am proud of our recent projects, particularly winning the leadership of the Design For Europe work which has allowed us to be bastions of design with the European community to a worldwide audience.

In 2015, I received an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University for my contribution to the world of design. I regularly speak at conferences and summits about the value of Design around the world, particularly in Europe over the last couple of years”.

Colin Mair
Colin Mair, Chief Executive, Improvement Service
Colin Mair is chief executive of the Improvement Service, a COSLA/SOLACE partnership set up support local government improvement across Scotland. The IS’ aim is to help councils and their partners improve the health, quality of life and opportunities of all people in Scotland through community leadership, strong local governance and the delivery of high quality, efficient local services.

Before joining the Improvement Service in 2004, Colin worked with Scottish councils as Director of the Scottish Local Authority Management Centre. Prior to that, he was Director of International Programmes at Strathclyde University where he worked on local government and public sector development in India, sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.

Elaine Melrose
Elaine Melrose, Group Director of Resources, Wheatley Group
Elaine joined Wheatley Group in September 2013 from West Dunbartonshire Council where she was an Executive Director for Housing, Environmental and Economic Development. Elaine has wide strategic experience in everything from regeneration and community planning to infrastructure investments and has led key improvement activity in organisation culture and improving competitiveness.

Sarah Drummond
Sarah Drummond, Co-founder and Managing Director, Snook
@rufflemuffin @wearesnook
Sarah is the Co-founder and managing Director of Snook, an award winning design consultancy working at the forefront of civic, public sector and democratic innovation. Sarah focuses on making social change happen by re-thinking public services from a human perspective.

Sarah co-founded Snook alongside Lauren Currie in 2009 and in her 7 years experience has worked with a vast array of public, private and third sector clients predominately across health, mental health and social care, education, civic and local authority and education to design services that work for people.

Her core clients include the Department for Health, British and Scottish Government, Government Digital Service, Department for Work and Pensions, Capita, UK local councils, NHS, and a variety of investment companies.

In 2009 she won Scotland’s first Social Innovation Camp successfully securing investment to design and deliver the UK’s first online police feedback platform, MyPolice – securing a Google Fellowship from NYC for her work in technology and democracy.

Across 2008 – 2010, before her start up career, Sarah worked at Skills Development Scotland designing digital career services and supporting the development of their internal design capacity. This experience was documented in her thesis ‘Embedding design in the public sector’ as part of her Masters of Design Innovation from the Glasgow School of Art.

Sarah is a serial idea generator. In 2014 she co-founded CycleHack, an initiative on a mission to reduce barriers to cycling. CycleHack brings citizens and city stakeholders together to build ideas that improve cycling over a weekend. CycleHack has successfully grown from 3 cities to over 70 in three years and continues to grow with each annual hack working with global brands like Oakley.

In 2013 she co-founded Dearest Scotland, a campaign that collected letters written to the future of the country across the referendum. The project culminated in a published book available in national book stores and an exhibition at the Scottish Government, endorsed by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Sarah is currently working on open sourcing the model as it is being replicated in India, Iran, Ireland, England and Bulgaria.

In 2012, she secured investment from Nominet Trust and won the final of the Design Council’s Working Well challenge to set up The Matter in collaboration with Young Scot. The Matter is a programme that teaches young people how to research, design and publish their own newspaper in response to a question set by an authority or organisation with a focus on increasing their employability skills and increasing civic participation. The Matter has worked with a variety of councils to publish newspapers on young people’s perceptions to Alcohol Awareness to Sexual Health and wellbeing.

Sarah has always focused on the bottom up approach and in 2009, as part of a Glasgow School of Art collaboration won the Audi ‘Sustain our Nation’ UK final to secure £20,000 for a community in Glasgow by supporting local people with design tools to build their own social enterprise.

Her experience and storytelling has taken her to Taiwan, the Philippines, the U.S, Australia, Oman and Europe to speak to Governments and design audiences and teach at national institutions in design and innovation.

Aside from design she loves Cycling and DJs part time.

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Karen Durnian, Customer Experience & Development Leader, Wheatley Group
Karen studied Housing at University of Glasgow and has wide experience across the public sector in Scotland in contact centre development, customer experience and employee engagement. She joined GHA in 2008 and has a penchant, passion and aptitude for team and personal development. She strongly believes that inside every person, team and organisation is greatness.

Karen is Wheatley Group’s Customer Experience & Development Leader and was the Project Executive for ‘Astra’ the Group’s Customer Relationship Management system.

In addition to a keen interest in football, when relaxing, Karen enjoys cooking, running and reading.

Carolyn Hirst
Carolyn Hirst, Independent consultant, Hirstworks; Lecturer in Ombudsman and Complaint Handling Practice, Queen Margaret University; Non-Executive Board member, NHS Lothian
Carolyn Hirst is an independent consultant with her own business, Hirstworks, where she works as a mediator, complaints investigator, complaints reviewer, trainer and coach. She also works as a part-time Lecturer in Ombudsman and Complaint Handling Practice at Queen Margaret University, where she carries out research relating to complaint management and designs/delivers related courses, including the online MSc in Dispute Resolution.

Carolyn is the mediation practice supervisor for Cyrenians, a member of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Mediation Panel, a member of the Edinburgh Sheriff Court Mediation Panel and she mediates complaints referred by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. Carolyn is also a Lay Member of Employment Tribunals (Scotland) and of the Private Rented Housing/Home Owner Housing Panel.

Carolyn previously worked as a Deputy Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, serving a term of office from the formation of the SPSO in 2002 until 2007. She also worked for nine months in 2014/15 as the Interim Principal Ombudsman at Ombudsman Services. Before that Carolyn worked in Social Housing for nearly 20 years, latterly as a Deputy Director of a Housing and Care Organisation. She is currently the Senior Non-Executive Director of a national English Housing Association and a Non-Executive Board member of NHS Lothian.

Jo Mayes
Jo Mayes, Head of Data and Customer Experience, Standard Life
Jo is Head of Data and Customer Experience in Standard Life – her role is to embed the customer voice throughout Standard Life through effective insight gathering and analytics to drive a customer focussed mind set across the organisation to ultimately improve the customer experience. Jo also has Customer Complaints and Remediation within her remit.

Jo took up her role in February 2013 and during that time has pioneered change across many fronts:

  • Creating and driving customer insight into the organisation to transition to data and fact based decision making
  • Established a new data analytics and CRM department to build capabilities that will deliver engaging, relevant, personalised and timely customer experiences
  • Mobilised a multi-million pound change programme to improve customer data quality
  • Delivered customer experience metrics (NPS/nEasy/PSAT) which are embedded across channels and throughout the organisation linked to reward and performance at all levels
  • Driven a customer culture agenda across Standard Life to improve colleague engagement around customers through the articulation of values and behaviours that will embed customer focussed culture and a variety of specific initiatives and interventions.

Standard Life were winners in both 2014 and 2015 at the UK Customer Experience Awards and the 2015 UK Customer Experience Awards for Financial Services.

Jo has held significant operational roles in other industries primarily within a Customer Services environment. Prior to joining Standard Life, Jo was Head of Credit Strategy and Risk in Scottish Power’s Energy Retailing business. She has also worked in the water industry, local government and the charitable sector.

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Lorna Wilson, Research and Development Manager, Wheatley Group
Lorna has worked in the housing sector for around 20 years; around 10 of these have been in leadership roles. Her career spans the public, independent and consultancy sectors.

Lorna devised and led a multi-agency partnership to develop a range of services for vulnerable people in East Renfrewshire. She devised and led strategic and business planning processes for Glasgow Housing Association, and played a key role in establishing a new purpose and direction for GHA through effective stakeholder engagement. Lorna established and currently leads the Research and Development function and team at Wheatley Group.

Her specialties include leading teams at start up and through change, building multi agency partnerships, facilitation, and relationship building.

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Andy Williams, Service Support Unit Manager, Waste & Fleet Services, The City of Edinburgh Council
Andy is a Chartered Waste Manager with 15 years experience in the waste industry.

Originally starting out in local authority Andy influenced the introduction of mainstream recycling collections in Edinburgh. A move into consultancy followed with Amec, primarily focusing on local authority work and working on behalf of both Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government.

A return to Edinburgh latterly followed with a wider portfolio of responsibility including cleansing strategy and management of public conveniences alongside waste strategy work.

Trisha McAuley OBE
Trisha McAuley OBE, Consumer and public interest expert and Non-executive Director
Trisha McAuley OBE is an expert in bringing the stakeholder into public and private sector thinking, and in enabling high value change and action as a result.

Current roles:

  • Non-Executive Director, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Member of the Board and the Audit Committee, Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Non Executive Board Member, Northern Ireland Water
  • Member, Ofgem Gas Network Innovation Competition Expert Panel, Ofgem
  • Public Interest Member of the Discipline Board, The Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS)
  • Director and Owner, McAuley Policy and Management Ltd

Trisha has twenty years’ experience as a successful senior leader in consumer policy, operating within Scotland and across the UK. She has a track record of high level, impactful and influential stakeholder engagement. She has worked effectively and constructively with business, public services, governments and regulators, bringing about change to the mutual benefit of consumers and business. She has played a key role in building consensus and operating in challenging, high profile stakeholder environments, enhancing and safeguarding organisational reputation.

Trisha was awarded an OBE for services to consumer affairs in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.

Wheatley Group
Wheatley Group
Wheatley Group, made up of five social landlords, two commercial subsidiaries and a care arm, is Scotland’s leading housing, care and property management organisation.

At Wheatley, we are focused on exceeding customers’ needs and expectations, with cultures that inspire staff to develop innovative solutions for the people we work for.

Join us to hear how we use qualitative and quantitative customer insight to enable our partners to know and better understand their customers.

Registration for this event has now closed.


Private sector rate
(Commercial organisations – Ltd, plc, LLP etc)

Public sector rate
(Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, NHS, police, universities and colleges etc.)

Third sector rate
(Charities, voluntary and community groups, tenant and patient groups, professional bodies, trade unions etc)
The Academy
Wheatley House
150 Ingram Street
G1 1EJ


By Rail, Glasgow Queen St & Glasgow Central Stations.
Approximately 5 minutes walk.

By Air, Glasgow Airport.
Approximately 20 minutes away.

By car,
See google map above.