Working with users to improve support services for leaseholders and park home owners
Our Discovery work set out to understand the needs of leaseholders and park home owners as they try to resolve an issue or dispute. We used our findings to recommend improvements to the service.
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
- Product management
- Service design
- Content design
- User research
The client says…
“I really enjoyed the experience of working on this Discovery with Zaizi. I had no prior experience of this kind of work but the team from Zaizi led me through it expertly, including helping me understand how the project would run and what was needed from me and the implications of key choices. We really valued their flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile and found that their presentations and outputs were very clear and insightful.“Ed Pitchforth, Leasehold, Commonhold and Rentcharges Division, DLUHC
DLUHC sponsors the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) to provide free advice to leaseholders and park home owners. The service is delivered through:
- two websites which provide a range of resources, including detailed advice guides, FAQs, template letters and scheduled phone calls with advisors
- written enquiries submitted via email
DLUHC asked us to run a Discovery to:
- better understand the needs of leaseholders and park home owners when they initially try to resolve an issue or dispute
- consider potential improvements to the current service
MORE: Exploring the case for a national landlord register
Our Discovery delivered a clear set of findings from primary user research. This helped us develop a better understanding of user needs, pain points and suggested next steps for the service.
At DLUHC’s request we followed up the delivered Discovery with further design work. This included best practice approaches to suggest alternative solutions to content, user interfaces and site architecture.
The delivered Discovery included:
- a 38-page Discovery report, covering background, research plan, key findings and suggested next steps
- survey report and raw data
- user journeys tailored to distinct personas
- review of the main Leasehold Advisory Service website, including content audit and recommendations
This Discovery was commissioned and led by a policy team who wanted to deliver the best possible support to leaseholders. We worked in the open, holding collaborative workshops to clearly define the Discovery aims, shape research and generate solutions.
Users felt confused, frustrated or exhausted by their situation
We tested with leaseholders who were experiencing or had experienced housing problems. Most were unaware of LEASE and its services.
Many of the users we spoke with were in a high emotional state. Some felt pressured or intimidated by site owners or managing agents. Some found it hard to find the right information for their specific problem and felt exasperated. Users reported feeling “trapped” in their situation and did not know where to turn.
Our Discovery work closely explored the emotional experience of leaseholders and park home owners. We used research approaches including in-depth interviews followed by empathy mapping, journey mapping and persona building. Using these insights we delivered a series of recommendations for future approaches that would be sympathetic to the emotional distress and frustration that the service’s users experience.
Complex, individualised information
The rules surrounding leasehold and the ownership of park homes are complex. Individuals often needed assistance to understand their rights and responsibilities.
Differing information available online, along with differences in lease and building conditions, often created the perception that a user’s issue is unique and could not be answered by online guidance. Many users chose to call an advisor and felt they needed to fully convey their story in order to get answers to their questions. This often took longer than the 15 minutes allocated.
The future service should tailor information to users’ specific circumstances.
Recruiting and interviewing “hard to reach” participants
We were briefed to conduct research with a broad user base. This included users of the LEASE service and other advice services, with a target of 35 leaseholders and park home owners interviewed over the span of the Discovery. Finding the right users presented challenges. Many park home residents are elderly. Traditionally this is a hard-to-reach demographic.
We met the target using Zaizi’s internal user research capabilities, working closely with the client and specialist agencies to streamline recruitment and ensure a representative population of participants. We also adapted to fit the needs of individual users. For example, when interviewing older participants, we conducted interviews over the phone rather than video link. We also kept sessions shorter to keep it easier and more comfortable for them.
From the research
“I feel isolated and frustrated. It feels like there isn’t anyone out there to help with my problems. The only way to get help is to pay. But I can’t afford a lawyer.”Leaseholder
Our research sessions are held in confidence, so the quotes below are not direct quotes. Instead they represent research findings and reflect sentiments commonly expressed by the users we interviewed.
From a stalled legacy system project to award-winning success
Exploring the case for a national landlord register
Creating new, more efficient operations for a central government organisation
Improving a service that helps UK citizens travel in emergencies
Preventing online harm through “safety by design”
Making concessionary transport schemes for older and disabled Londoners more accessible and efficient