IncomeMax: The power of human-centred design

IncomeMax - People behind laptops

IncomeMax is a social enterprise that helps families access unclaimed benefits, to reduce debt and household bills. They are passionate that a human-led approach to service delivery helps them to support vulnerable citizens. They often work with vulnerable customers who are coping with the impact of managing finances, or dealing with other personal issues. To support the specific needs of these customers, human-to-human conversations remain central to their service delivery. 

The founder, Lee Healey, explained that for many “benefits advice is best delivered by a real person as it gives customers a level of empathy, understanding and kindness that digital technology cannot.” The lockdown caused by COVID-19 has meant that now, more than ever, people are celebrating the power of digital connections. Lee hopes that despite this, human-centred services remain valued. “The opportunity for digital innovation within the benefits system is really exciting, but we must not forget that for many of the most vulnerable in society, a personal and individual support system is needed. Therefore, I hope that human interaction is central to re-building our economy after the pandemic.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IncomeMax customers benefited from the ability to speak with the team over the phone or via email. Confused, anxious and worried customers called them, unsure about how to access Government support. “We were pleased we could be there for them,” said Lee. “Many customers needed reassurance, information on how to claim, and what support to expect from their employers.” Their service was in demand, and from April to June, IncomeMax increased the number of households they supported by 35%, compared to the same period last year. The team helped them make claims and provided extra guidance, during what was a busy time for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Lee believes that to support their customers, an understanding of vulnerability is vital. They designed IncomeMax to support customers with issues they are 'vulnerable to'. This includes struggling to access systems, or making phone calls. Lee concluded, "it’s about recognising that as human beings there are things we are all vulnerable to. We need to design better services for everybody. There is always more to be done to make services more user-friendly and supportive"

The top takeaways when designing services are:

  • All businesses and services should design with vulnerability in mind.  If you do this, it is more likely your services will be easy to use, and create more impact. It is a win-win, and everybody benefits.
  • Ask, ‘what are our customers vulnerable to, and how can we support customers to overcome those issues?’
  • Don’t forget to put humans and the planet at the centre of your design. That way we can help everybody to thrive.

You can find out more about Income Max by visiting their website.