Service Redesign Case Study: Digital Solutions for Mental Health

Context and Challenge

The challenge was to identify improvement areas for Supportiv and come up with a service redesign concept.


  • 1-month-long auto-ethnography.
  • Semi-structured in-depth interviews with 27 Supportiv users and 7 moderators.
  • Digital listening of online reviews and mentions.
  • Web audits of 40 applications in mental health category, mental health forums and facebook groups.
  • Literature review of key mental health trends, online peer support specifics and the applications of machine learning in mental health.

In this process I created user and moderator empathy maps, journey maps, a competitive matrix and synthesized all in a SWOT diagram. Based on the insights, I ideated with sketching exercises and prioritized the ideas based on strategically chosen criteria. At the end, I tested the redesign concept with contextual inquiries.

Research Outputs

Business Model Canvas

The pre-redesign business model canvas

The business model canvas showed that:

  • Supportiv has two distinct customer sectors. The first includes the end-user customers that are digitally savvy anglophone people that face extensive daily struggles, psychological tension and seek for help. The second includes the business customers that are US-based companies that offer Supportiv as part of their employee benefit packages.
  • The startup uses a mix of usage fee and subscription with daily and monthly options for end-users and custom pricing for business clients.
  • Its cost structure is more value-driven than cost-driven. The fixed costs are the cloud storage and tech development costs, the variable demand-dependant costs are the moderator salaries.
  • It uses different channels for each marketing phase. For awareness it uses social media, search engine optimization and referral marketing. For evaluation, the key touchpoint is the website with reviews. The purchase can be done with paypal, amazon go and credit cards. The service is available through mobile and web apps that offer identical experience. The after-sales service includes weekly newsletter emails.

Stakeholder Map

The Stakeholder Map

Industry Trends

User And Moderator Empathy Maps

The user and moderator empathy maps

The user empathy map showed that people start using Supportiv when they are stressed, depressed, lonely, or misunderstood. Their goal is to be heard and understood, but often they discover that Supportiv’s matching is not very precise — people with different problems can be matched in a chat. Participants leave the chatrooms and new participants join any time during the conversation. This is distracting and there is no room for meaningful conversations. Moderators are passive and sound unnatural. The content recommendations are usually relevant and useful but impractical as they are sent during the conversations and there is no save option. Also, the chatroom experiences vary too much — sometimes they are very useful, other times not useful at all.

The moderator empathy map showed that typical moderators are psychology students, or recent graduates working part-time. They are empathetic people, but at Supportiv they have too strict interaction guidelines and are not able to improvise and react properly to specific user problems. They can’t control the chat flows and panic sometimes because of awkward silences or conversations. Moderators also don’t have much interaction with each other to share insights about chat handling and they have unpredictable schedules with periods of idle time and hectic periods.

Current State Journey Map

The current state journey map

The current state journey map showed that:

  • One inconsistency with the service promise and actual experience happens in purchase phase. The service advertises itself as registration-free, but during the payment the subscribers add an email and set password to use it later for subscription access.
  • There is no free trial.
  • During the usage, the number of chat room participants can grow to 8 and in this case some people don’t get a chance to express themselves.
  • The users are asked to evaluate the moderators only 5 minutes after joining the chat. This makes the feedback meaningless.
  • The voice of the moderators is too robotic.
  • In the after-sales, there is absolutely no customization of the emails

Competitive Matrix

Supportiv’s competitive matrix

SWOT Diagram

The SWOT Analysis

The diagram clearly showed that Supportiv is underutilizing its two key competitive advantages: AI technology and human moderators. The challenge was to find new ways for combining these two resources in a way that would take the unpredictability and stress from the moderators, give more consistency to the user experience and change the users’ perception of not receiving enough value for money.

Idea Generation

Redesign Concept

Future State Journey Maps

The to-be journey map with Amie Bot

The user journey for the peer support option would vary with each encounter, however with the redesigned option the structure for the onboarding would be consistent regardless of the further flow. I created a zoomed journey map for this phase.

The redesigned peer-support chat journey map


  • New unique selling proposition and competitive advantage
  • More stress-free moderator experience.
  • Employee cost reduction thanks to the addition of the chatbot.
  • Long-term customer relationship thanks to the personalized notifications.
  • Continuous algorithmic performance enhancement thanks to the data collected through the newly added art-therapeutic diagnostic activities.
  • New customer sectors.

Redesign Process & Testing

Challenges and Learnings

  • When too much data has been collected in the research phase, it’s important to not be in a rush and spend as much time as it requires to carefully synthesize the findings, visualize them and connect the dots. Otherwise, powerful insights might get lost in a pile.
  • When advanced technology is involved in the system, it’s important to develop an in-depth understanding of its mechanics before trying to ideate on enhancement solutions. Otherwise, opportunities might be lost, or the feasibility threatened.

I did the project for my master work at Poli.Design. The concept I developed does not reflect the views or vision of Supportiv’s founders. The process took 6 months. For more details, feel free to contact me.

UX & service designer passionate about emerging technologies and co-design