Personalisation is changing the nature of the way people being supported by Adult Services are being viewed. Increasingly rather than being seen as clients ("a person who receives help or advice from a professional") more and more providers are seeing these individuals as customers ("a buyer or receiver of goods or services"). Customers will still need information but they will increasingly make the decisions on what to buy themselves rather than through the help or advice of a professional.
It is therefore increasingly important that you understand your customers. To help you with this, you may wish to learn from what some people are already doing due to Personalisation. You may also want to try to understand who and where your customers are.
Probably the best place to start when considering who will want to buy your support service product is to look at who you are currently providing services to. The characteristics of your current customers should give you an indication of who might want to buy similar future support services from you if you do not change what you provide.
If you are considering delivering a new or different support service product then you will need to think about who your new customers might be. You might want to ask yourself:
Who are they?
What are the characteristics (gender, age, incomes, home ownership) of the customers you want? Also consider what types of needs or SDS Outcomes your new customers are likely to have?
How many customers with those characteristics there are in total ?
Also think about whether your customers characteristics and preferences are likely to change over time (consider fashion, demographics etc)?
What do they do?
What do the customers you want currently do? What are their lifestyles? What are their interests? What are their circumstances?
Why do they buy?
Why do the customers you want buy what they buy? Is it about quality, price or locality for example? Is this directed by Adult Services? What choices will be available to them?
When do they buy?
How often do the customers you want buy products? Are there particular times of the year?, Do they regularly change? etc.
How do they buy?
Are you looking for customers who's services are commissioned by Adult Services or will they buy direct? If you want people who buy direct, how do they do this, from a website, face-to-face or through some other way?
How much money they have and where does their funding come from?
Are you looking for people who receive Adult Services funding or are you looking for people who pay for themselves - or both? How much will your customers be prepared / able to pay for your new or different support service product? If supported by Adult Services, what is their personal budget likely to be?
What makes them feel good about buying?
When you proposed customers buy, how do they feel about this? What are their emotional reactions to buying and can you make this feel as good for them as possibler.
What will they expect of you
Once your proposed customers have bought from you, what will they expect from you? Will different customer groups have different expectations? Will you be able to meet their expectations?
What do they think about you
Do your customers enjoy dealing with you? What will you have to do to convince them to stay with you or even buy more from you? How will you get to know about and understand problems they may have with you?
What do they think about your competitors
What choice of products do your customers have? How do your proposed customers view your competition? How likely are they to want to change products? Can you use this knowledge to stay ahead of your rivals and keep your customers?
Your market research
When you have decided who your customers are, you will need to consider how many people in your area there are with those characteristics (consider customers from different client groups including diverse populations and non-Adult Services customers) and then how many of those people are likely to want to actually buy your new or different support service product and become your customers. Market research may help you with this.
What are the aims of market research?
- To gather information about the market and your customers.
- To understand what different groups of customers there are in the market (market segmentation) and what are the differences between these groups.
- To identify market trends to try to understand how people's needs change over location,time or other reason.
Qualitative and Quantitative research
Simply put, qualitative research is more about understanding peoples attitudes and feelings whereas quantitative research is more about gathering statistical information. You are likely to want to need to collect both.
Market research techniques can be basic or sophisticated. You could:
- hold discussions with friends or colleagues to canvass their opinions.
- survey the public about what types of products or services they may need.
- ask customers of competing products what improvements they would like to see.
- use focus groups to test your product or service.
- look at what has and hasn't worked in your industry or market niche.
- try a small scale trial launch.
Tips you may wish to consider
- Ask the right questions
Phrase your questions in the right way and avoid closed questions which encourage the answer "yes" or "no".
- Talk to the right people
Make sure you talk to people who are representative of the customers you want.
- Talk to enough people
To make sure you get a thorough and balanced view.
- Keep research impartial
Remain objective and keep your own opinions to yourself. Avoid asking leading questions or smiling at the 'right' answer.
- Interpret results with care
Again try to be objective and don't 'massage' the figures to fit with what you want them to show.
Above all be prepared to modify your plans if necessary and if you don't have the time or skills to carry out research yourself, consider using a market research agency
Experiences of people living in Hampshire
Hampshire County Council is already seeing how Personalisation and Self-directed Support (SDS) are making a difference in people’s lives.
Hampshire County Council Adult Services surveyed Basingstoke Self-directed support users in April 2010, about the choices individuals who are on self-directed support in Basingstoke made and why they made them.
Experiences of people living in other areas
In-Control are one of the organisations who helped develop Self Directed Support. They have a number of stories of individuals who have taken advantage of the opportunities that having choice and being in control of their social care support services has provided.
Access the In-control - Personal stories
In addition, a number of other Local Authorities are developing websites that provide examples of how individuals are using their personal budgets. Please note that whilst the principles of choice and control are the same for all Local Authorities, the day to day experiences of, and opportunities for, individuals may differ between them.
DEMOS - At your service
This pamphlet looks at how personal budgets will impact the social and health care market, what prospective budget holders know and think about personal budgets, how they would spend it and what difficulties they envisage. It sets out the likely challenges facing local authorities and service providers in delivering the personalisation agenda and contains recommendations about how to make the transition successfully.
SCIE Social Care TV
A new development from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) is their social care TV, which provides films highlighting the benefits of Personalisation to different individuals.
Access SCIE Social Care TV
Hampshire Adult Services client data
As at the end of December 2011, Hampshire County Council, reported providing services to a total of approximately 15,000 clients.
You may wish to use the following service type and age categories statistics for your business planning, although the information is collected by Hampshire County Council to support our own business processes. Any use of the data by any other individual / organisation is done so at that individuals / organisations own risk.
The following graphs show, for our Older People, Physical Disability and Learning Disability client groups, the types of services being received by people who are funded through Hampshire County Council, between August 2011 and February 2012. There were approximately 7,000 services agreed for Older People, approximately 900 for people with a Physical Disability and approximately 300 for people with learning disabilities during that period. Mental health services are recorded in different systems and cannot be reported in this manner.
Age range of clients receiving services
The following graphs show the age range of our Older People, Physical Disability, Learning Disability and Mental Health client groups as at the end of December 2011. There were approximately 10,200 Older People clients, approximately 1,700 people with a Physical Disability, approximately 2,600 people with learning disability and approximately 500 people with a mental impairment being seen by Adult Service as at that date.
Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites.