The Stockholm Housing Service

Connecting with the people behind the numbers

Finding a permanent place to live in Stockholm can be surprisingly challenging – even more challenging than in some of the world’s largest and most popular cities. With significantly higher numbers of people moving into rather than out of the city, apartments go fast. To make the process of finding accommodation safer, easier and more democratic, the City of Stockholm created the Stockholm Housing Service (Bostadsförmedlingen) to distribute rental apartments based on a queuing system.

The service acts as a marketplace for rentals in the greater Stockholm area and works to match up two customer groups: housing applicants and property owners. Applicants often queue in the system for several years before they get an apartment, so the Housing Service must work extra hard to build and maintain positive customer relationships. It spends a lot of time behind the scenes, making sure the system runs as smoothly and fairly as possible. Through quantitative studies of the process, they’ve compiled a large volume of statistics over the years: what applicants do, how they do it and in what order. As part of their aim to constantly improve offerings and the customer experience, the Housing Service came to Veryday for help in getting to know the faces behind the statistics.

Who are the housing applicants on a personal level and what extra services would benefit them? What drives them, and what are their needs and emotions during the various stages of the long search for a place to live?

Our design researchers conducted deep interviews in people’s homes and while they viewed potential apartments. We then used the responses to create Emotional Journey Maps of the search process. Since we know that experiences that elicit emotions are the ones that are the most meaningful to people, emotions were at the heart of our research. For example, our designers found out that spending one’s accumulated queuing years on an apartment is as big an emotional commitment as spending a lot of money on buying a place. It’s truly an investment. It follows that the Housing Service needs to meet customer expectations and make sure the experience of viewing available spaces feels positive, personal and secure. If something feels just a little bit off, applicants will often choose to wait for the next opening.

The project and the insights have awoken many ideas within the management group. We would like to be user driven, and this project made it clear how we should interact with our customers and what they expect from us. Nowadays, everything needs to be easy; it’s a lot about communication and things being ‘on my terms'.

Kenneth Rode-Kemlo, Bostadsförmedlingen Stockholm

This research will be the basis for the co-creation phase where Veryday and the Stockholm Housing Service come up with ideas and solutions that integrate insights into the company’s overall strategy to create both long- and short-term actionable goals.