Giving the Justice System a human voice

The Problem

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) administrates criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales. The organisation is undergoing a £1 billion reform programme to improve its systems and services.

HMCTS recognised it was no good updating technology if their teams continued to use old-fashioned, formal and pompous language. This wasn’t just confusing. It was creating an inhuman experience of the justice system.

The Solution

We created a new approach to written, verbal and face to face communication at HMCTS called ‘The human voice of justice’. We developed it by speaking to people from around the courts service. We then commissioned an independent research agency to test the new approach with a cross-section of court users, including people in vulnerable situations.

To empower the HMCTS teams to use the human voice of justice, we ran a mixture of face to face workshops and
online learning, including animations, guidelines and digital training modules. We also ran an internal campaign across the organisation, with posters and videos of people talking about what the human voice of justice meant to them.

The Results

The human voice of justice isn’t just a project – HMCTS now have a team dedicated to embedding it across the organisation. And it’s producing real results. For example, first contact resolution increased in every area of complaints – one team reduced escalations by 73% within three months.

Giving people permission to communicate like human beings didn’t just change the user experience – it changed the culture at HMCTS. So much so that our work won an Excellence in Employee Engagement award from the Association of Business Psychology. It was also shortlisted for Most Improved Complaint Handling at the UK Complaint Handling Awards.

“This initiative – the human voice of justice – started out as a tone of voice and training project to improve the way we handle complaints. But it ’s evolved to become much more than that.
By changing our words, we’ve given our customers a more human experience of the court system. We’ve helped our teams feel more confident and empowered about the work they do and the people they serve. And we’ve created a culture where people come before process.”

Liz Olney
Deputy Director
Customer Change and Innovation, HMCTS

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