Laura Warwick
Service Designer

Seven Stories

Co-designing the fairytale experience

Seven Stories is a national charity based in North East England that aims to inspire a love of reading in all ages through children’s literature, both in their visitor centre, and outreach activities in schools and communities. I worked with Seven Stories to consider how the customer’s experience in their visitor centre could be improved, resulting in an increase in annual pass upgrades, and decrease in customer complaints. They used the insights from the user research to inform two bids to the Arts Council England, and were successful in being awarded £1.9 million in grants to support the charity’s work until 2018.


The charity had recently been awarded National status, and as a result had seen a substantial rise in visitors. However, they had been unable to undertake any significant research to understand how their services should change as a result of this new accreditation. I worked with the staff team to undertake observation and interviews to get an accurate understanding of the current customer experience. After presenting the findings using a visual report and customer experience maps, the stakeholders decided to focus on improving the visitors’ first and last impressions. I helped to reframe the problem areas as the fairytale welcome and goodbye, and facilitated idea generation workshops to co-design and prototype nine concepts to improve the customer’s experience. These concepts were then tested across a busy holiday period, and monitored and evaluated to understand the impact they had on the experience for all stakeholders.


As a result of the prototypes, Seven Stories saw a 250% rise in their annual pass upgrade rate over the holiday period, which would equate to an extra £52,500 a year for the organisation. Seven of the nine concepts also continue to be used to provide a better customer service. Seven Stories also said that staff were now working more collaboratively and felt more empowered to contribute ideas.


Seven Stories website
Northumbria University press article about project

“Service Design was a totally new concept to us, and I have to say it was such a refreshing way of thinking. We had a few areas of the business that we knew needed attention and working with Laura really helped us to open our eyes and think differently. Laura’s findings and recommendations through Service Design have turned into key actions and we’re continually referring back to her work as a model for business development”


Kathryn Row, Marketing Manager, Seven Stories


Seven Stories
Tyneside Mind
Age UK Newcastle
Quality Of Life Partnership
YMCA North Tyneside

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