Expat Helpline Toolkit

Improve current expat helpline service by providing a toolkit for volunteers, to keep the consistency of the service and support constant growth in the near future

BRIEF Design a service that helps people increase social capital through mutual trust and interdependence(During Service Design Class at CIID)

MY ROLEFacilitated overall process among team members;
Created various tools and conducted interview and co-creation session through research phase;
Created ecosystem maps and storyboarding for the design video

Hiroki Sato
Mitsu K. Shah

Magaret Shear
Dianna Miller


Denmark is not a traditionally immigrant country, and expats are often met with difficulties of settiling in. The situation is even more challenging when it comes to expats with children.  In this project, together with my two classmates at CIID, we decided to investigate on how might we help expat parents in Copenhagen to settle in.


During the three-week service design course, with the aim of helping expat parents in Copenhagen increase their social capital, our project went from problem scoping, to extensive research, to iterative prototyping, and in the end, we brought the design into the real life to test.
Project journey

Problem Scoping: Gorilla + Indepth Interviews

Intercept interview with Danish locals
An in-depth interview with a newly arriving expat family

An in-depth interview with a repatriate expat
Tool 1: Relation mapping Mapping out who are the stakeholders around your children
Tool 2: Emotion Seismograph Understand emotionally significant moments of the expat journey

Synthesis Create affinity mapping based on whether it is for parents or children and how the emotion corresponds


With the interviews, we have gained two insights:
1. Just arriving into the country is the most stressful moment throughout the whole expat journey.
According to our field research, typically, an expat will experience stress at four different stages of the expat journey, and the most stressful moments happened when they first arrived at the new country without any local support.

2. People who have experience as expat are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge and want to help people in the similar situation.

That was when we found the Expat Helpline. 
Emotional journey as expat families

Working with Expat Helpline

Reena was both an expat who has been through all the challenges adapting to Copenhagen, also, she is an active contributor to the expat community: along with her husband and another expat family, they created an Expat Helpline that aims to help with challenges expat families face in the beginning.

We found Reena through a Facebook post. Reena’s enthusiasm and passion for the helpline moved us, and we decided to join forces with her and helped her provide service to expats she has envisioned.
Reena and her Expat Helpline
During the in-depth interview, we helped Expat Helpline map out their backstage.

1. Four families keep an online document that contains up-to-date information about childhood options in Copenhagen.

2. Two families have the phone circulating within to answer the phone for one hour every Sunday.

Current Service System Map

Co-creation Sessions

To better understand Reena`s vision, we had a two-hour co-creation session with her. Many activities were designed to help her rethink what the core value and offering of the service, different touchpoints across the experience, what the stakeholders are, and what the future of the organization will lead to.

Co-creation tool test with faculty
Tool 1: Value poster Three different posters express different values of the service, choose to understand which one anchors the essential value

Tool 2: Product Statement Make clear what is the core service by filling out product statement
Tool 3: Spatial Storming Understand who are the target audience by choosing which are the best place to promote the service

Tool 4: Scenario Storming Explain two scenarios expat parents will face during the adaptation phase and ask how Expat Helplin can help by playing out the scenarios
Tool 5: Stakeholder map Understand what are the potential stakeholders could involve in the service and how to build a mutually beneficial relationship

From the co-creation session, we had four notable insights:
1. Expat Helpline is a voluntary service that provides childhood options to expat parents in a positive way;
2. The service should grow organically: she did not want an overnight sensation;
3. The service should maintain consistency on the provided information and a positive tone of voice;
4. In the future, the service should be accessible for volunteers and expat parents outside Copenhagen too.

Iterative Prototyping

The gathered insights guided on us to focus more on the service provider side of the design.

How can we design to support organic growth while maintaining a consistent tone of voice?

We decided to assemble a volunteer toolkit quickly and went straight to bodystorming with our classmate. The volunteer toolkit is a box that contained one call log, one calling protocol paper, one information collection book, one Expat Helpline logo, one “phone” and one “charger”.

During the bodystorming, we understood what service would be helpful for a new volunteer without prior knowledge of the service. Combining advice from our teachers, we decided to create a roadmap to envision what service can be implemented at the current stage and in the near future. And in considerations of feasibility and to meet different needs at different stages, we used different technology to prototype: Google Excelsheet would be sufficient while a more integrated digital platform will meet an evergrowing demand from both users and service providers` side.
Prototype of volunteer toolbox
Bodystorming with prototype


How do you design to improve the current service?

In estimation, there will be two more families joining the volunteer service in the upcoming months. To better onboard the new volunteers and keep track of the calling history, we created a volunteer toolkit for them based on Google Excel Sheet.

Updated Service System Map

How does Volunteer Toolkit work?

Volunteers can open the toolkit from one shared Google Excel file. By clicking on different tabs, they can access answering protocol and information about different childhood options, input call logs, and also make updates on all these relevant information within the same platform.

Volunteer Toolkit Based on Google Excel Sheet

What do you envision the future of Expat Helpline?

We envision the service will grow and there will be more members involved. Massive information flow will make the service hard to maintain consistency with simple tools like Excel sheets. The geological expansion of the volunteer group will make the physical phone inaccessible.

How can we design to support the organic growth of Expat Helpline to face these challenges?

We envisionan all-service digital platform that integrates the previous functions and expands its capacity.

The digital platform will be in the form of a desktop app. Volunteers in the front line will use it to schedule the time, answer the call, update information as well as connect.

At the backstage, Reena`s family and another founder family will be working in the management. And also, there will be technical support to maintain the running of the platform.
Future Service System


Our prototype being displayed at international citizen`s day, an event designed for expat community in Denmark
Selfie mode in front of our prototype
During the test, many parents showed their interest in joining the expat helpline, and our toolkit received several feedbacks, in terms of the classifications of the information and what would be the best way to involve the new volunteers in the feedback session.