DWP makes improvements to bereavement service

Department creates digital system for call centre workers to take information

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence 3.0

By Sam Trendall

10 Jun 2019

The Department for Work and Pensions has made improvements to its bereavement service, with the aim of helping its staff process information from citizens.

The 'Capture information about a death' service has been created for telephone operators receiving calls from citizens who wish to discuss the benefits of someone who has recently died. The platform has been designed to help call-centre agents to input information from callers and advise them on what financial assistance might be available to them.

A blog post from delivery manager Annika Vaid and product owner Dave Hardy revealed that the tool was developed using a model office testing method – which aims to test a service in conditions as close to real life as possible.


“Before we went into private beta, we wanted to be sure that ‘Capture’ could handle the many different scenarios that agents are faced with,” the blog post said. “For most of our digital services, we would work with real users of a service to do this. But given the emotional strain our users are under when they call us, this wasn’t a realistic option.”

The model office testing for this service saw members of the development team call agents at DWP call centres in Newcastle and Burnley and undertake a role-play exercise that allowed them the test the functionality of the new system.

“We didn’t want it to be plain sailing, so it was important we were awkward at times and our scenarios meant we often didn’t know or want to give information that the agents wanted,” the blog said. “But it certainly let us really stress-test the tool we’d built and we did it without affecting any users."

During the testing, both the callers and the agents noted “what was working, if anything was confusing or if a screen created problems”. Feedback and recommendations were taken on board, and improvements were made before the tool was progressed into private beta phase.

“Model office is something we would definitely recommend to other teams as the benefit it brings in such a short amount of time is invaluable”, the blog added.

Development teams are encouraged to contact DWP if they wish to hear more.

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