Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust

A CX strategy to support people through the most difficult moments of their lives

We worked with the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust to develop a detailed Customer Experience strategy to underpin and guide ongoing business transformations.

A photo from a workshop run with GMCT. There is a group of three people sitting around a table having a conversation with each other.
  • A detailed community, customer and partner insights report highlighting opportunities and strategies for catering to a diverse set of cultural needs and practices

  • A Customer Experience Vision that aligned the needs of GMCT with their community, customers and partners

  • Detailed strategies and recommendations to ensure existing and future initiatives meet customer needs

  • A framework for evaluating customer experience, to ensure GMCT continues to learn, measure success, and use feedback to inform strategic decisions


Responding to changing community needs

The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT) is a state-governed not-for-profit organisation that operates 21 public cemeteries in Melbourne’s metropolitan region. It also delivers a range of funeral and burial related services to over 50% of the greater Melbourne population. As you might imagine, it is a challenging task to design and deliver products, services and spaces that cater to the changing needs of a culturally, linguistically and spiritually diverse population. By partnering with Paper Giant, GMCT sought to develop a deep understanding of the diversity within the community and find ways to ensure all voices and needs would be embedded within the GMCT portfolio and strategy for the future.

With this mission in mind, Paper Giant was tasked to conduct extensive community research and co-design a customer experience strategy and evaluation framework that put the needs of partners and customers at the core of all decision making. Our work transformed the way GMCT engages with community, partners and customers and helped to prioritise and define GMCT’s role and response to a changing cultural landscape, and an evolving partnership and service delivery environment.

Research and co-design with diverse groups

The project focused on answering the question: how might GMCT deliver a customer experience that better meets the needs of the customers, organisations and wider community it serves?

To answer this question, our team conducted extensive in context interviews with a mix of customers who have recently lost loved ones or were planning for their own end of life needs, and people from partner organisations such as stonemasons, spiritual leaders from a range of faiths, and funeral directors.

The team also ran three one-day co-design workshops with GMCT staff, partners, community groups and customers to co-design various initiatives, strategies and to launch a new way of engaging and involving these stakeholders in the strategy, product and service design process.

A data visualisation representing the research participants and their indivual situations

Ensuring participant, researcher and data safety

When conducting research with vulnerable communities and individuals - especially when the subject matter is as sensitive and personal as grieving the loss of a loved one, it is critical to think carefully about ethics, consent and psychological safety. Our team used the Paper Giant ethics framework to ensure all important issues had been considered and our team was well prepared.

For example, our researchers had access to trauma training, a range of team care practices, and we launched a new debriefing and management system to ensure our team was well supported.

Pre- and post interview care for our interview participants was also a priority. While we found that most of our participants actually found our interviews cathartic and valuable, we anticipated the risk for trauma and wanted to do everything possible to create a psychologically safe environment and follow up system.

Honouring the participants and their loved ones

Some of our strategies included asking participants to find a photo of their loved one, and using it to run an initial conversation to honour and remember their loved one. After our interviews, we also ensured that participants knew where to turn to for support. We left them with a list of grief counselling and other support services. In addition, a few days after each interview, researchers called participants to check in with them, and find out if they needed any further support.

While planning and enacting research with vulnerable participants requires special attention, so does the way we document, represent and communicate the stories of individuals. During synthesis, our team considered, “How might we do justice to the stories we heard?” These reflections resulted in the creation of a video series (in addition to our report) that enabled participants to shape their own stories and in extensive invitations for customers to participate directly in co-design forums where they could advocate for their needs and experiences.

A blueprint for the future

Through analysis and synthesis of the data gathered through all engagements with partners, customers and staff, we developed a new Customer Experience Vision and Framework for GMCT. These artefacts, and the shared knowledge created through our extensive co-design process, now underpins a major transformation agenda at GMCT. It is being used to make decisions, set priorities, evaluate success, and focus the design and development of a range of new products, services, experiences and IT infrastructure.

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Paper Giant acknowledges the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin nation, the Ngunnawal and Bundjalung people as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our offices are located.

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