Top tips for finding and using tools

1. Stories can be really powerful

User experience stories can be really powerful when it comes to improving services. Firstly, they enable you to capture much more detailed information than through other routes. They also tend to be highly personal, which can create the sort of emotional connection that can really help to change the hearts and minds of others. They are also often really memorable, which will make their impact last longer. If you are a patient, we love to hear your stories and if you think there are changes that could out of them, let us know!

2. Experience is often more important than satisfaction

Whilst satisfaction is often used as a barometer for how good a service is, understanding user experience can be much more beneficial. Experience is concerned with how people feel about a service; the emotional response that it generates. In order to create a great experience, we must understand the elements that really matter to our users.

3. It is not one size fits all

Though grandparents are the fastest growing demographic on social media, they are also the least likely group to be online. It is important to consider facts like these when selecting your involvement tools, and you may need to use a number of different routes in order to engage with everyone you need to.

4. You do not need huge numbers in order to have an impact

Sometimes even one user story can be powerful enough to make a difference and you do not need to engage with hundreds of people for the sake of it. There are lots of involvement activities that focus on quality rather than quantity, which may well be best for you.

5. Direct involvement might not be the answer

Whilst surveys, focus groups and other tools offer lots of benefits, it may not always be possible to use them with your audience. For example, dementia patients may not be able to articulate their views, but that does not mean they cannot be involved in improving services. By observing users, you may well be able to gather lots of rich information that can make a significant difference.

6. Active listening is vital

When talking to users, it is really important to demonstrate active listening, which will really help you to understand what they are saying. It is also important to avoid shaping the conversation, through leading questions or other means. In addition, be sure to allow people the time and space to speak freely.

7. Users will not always come to you

In many cases users will be happy to come to you when it comes to involvement. In others you might have to work a little harder to engage with your audience. Outreach is about going to when your audience are to engage with them directly, be that a school, a football stadium, a place of worship or somewhere else.

8. Participants works best as peers

Often in healthcare we have a teacher student relationship with users; healthcare professionals are the ones with all the knowledge, and users understandably are not. However, when working in partnership, it is really important to do so as equals, and to value everyone’s contribution equally.