If you want to create a great business, it’s not enough to create a product or service in a vacuum. You need to ensure that at each touchpoint your brand delivers a great service experience from start to finish for every stakeholder including employees and customers.
What is Service Design?
Service design is about looking at the bigger picture. The experience of a service is essential to its success.
Service design is a process where designers create sustainable solutions and optimal experiences for both customers in unique contexts and any service providers involved. Designers break services into sections and adapt fine-tuned solutions to suit all users’ needs in context—based on actors, location and other factors – Interaction Design Foundation
Its purview includes the design of interactions that span time and multiple touch points. Service design is sometimes easiest to grasp when contrasted with product design. Product design creates tangible things: tennis shoes, teapots, and tablet computers. Service design creates intangible experiences: the series of interactions that you have as you book a flight, pay a bill, get a driver’s license, or go to the doctor. Service design also designs behind-the-scenes activities that enable those experiences to be delivered as planned – Forrester
Service Design is a collaborative process of researching, envisioning, and then orchestrating experiences that happen over time and across multiple touchpoints.
Five key principles—for service design:
- User-centered – Use qualitative research to design, focusing on all users.
- Co-creative – Include all relevant stakeholders in the design process.
- Sequencing – Break a complex service into separate processes and user journey sections.
- Evidencing – Envision service experiences to make them tangible for users to understand and trust brands.
- Holistic – Design for all touch points throughout experiences, across networks of users and interactions.
What are the components in Service Design?
First, identify these vital parts of any service encounter:
- Actors (e.g., employees delivering the service)
- Location (e.g., a virtual environment where customers receive the service)
- Props (e.g., objects used during service delivery)
- Associates (other organizations involved in providing the service – e.g., logistics)
- Processes (e.g., workflows used to deliver the service)
How is Branding, Service design and UX Design connected?
Branding is having a brand purpose and a promise and service design is about delivering on promises.
Where service design regards the service as a whole, UX design zooms in to one touchpoint (e.g. a digital platform, a website).
Service design helps you to understand your customers’ needs for solutions that work.
What are some examples of Service Design?
- Helping someone onboard as a new employee
- Booking of an appointment
- Purchase experience of a car
- Website browsing experience
- Student experience throughout a course
- Airline check-ins
- Shopping experience
Design is all around you, and that’s really the crux of the service-design discipline. It’s a practice that lives in-between others – it lies not in simply the design of the check-in kiosk or the boarding pass, but in the integration of all of those into one total experience. – Fast Company
Businesses and institutions have been using Service Design for many years without putting a name to the practice.
Why service design matters? How does innovation in Service Design make a difference?
A Service Design approach allows us to view the service beyond and across specific touchpoints, channels, and delivery mechanisms; beyond products. Maintaining this end-to-end view of the service allows us to envisage the most appropriate ways to deliver it.
Service Design helps form the big picture, the end-to-end service, and brings together insight from all other streams.
Service design provides a toolset and framework that enable companies to truly understand their customers and engage with them in meaningful ways — ultimately driving profits, cost savings, and competitive differentiation.
When you examine the ecosystem of people, processes, and technology that support your customer journeys, you should again consider your partners. For example, the processes that Amazon uses to communicate with UPS impact how quickly I get my items delivered, regardless of the fact that I never see those communications.
English utility company Southern Water used Service Design to make the meter implementation project seamless. The Southern Water meter project shifted the company’s focus from the technical aspects of delivering water to the service experience. It gave the company a much better understanding of its customers and increased the number of considered touchpoints from two — the meter and the bill — to many — including the shower, toilet, kitchen faucet, and dishwasher.
In a service design process, we understand your business and your customers to ensure that all the touchpoints of your service are perfect. We will design your brand in such a way that you can deliver a great service experience every time. It’s not just about designing the customer interactions; we also design the entire ecosystem surrounding those interactions.
Why should businesses consider service design while creating products and services?
In every organization there are a lot of layers.
While a customer places an order in Amazon, behind the scenes a lot of use cases are getting created. Logistics needs to be arranged, information should pass through many departments, what if the person wants to change address, cancel the order, what if there is a query, what if they want to change the payment method, delivery instructions, etc. Hundreds of layers for one order.
Disinterested staff, misinformed employees, complicated processes, and clunky systems can all make it less satisfying to buy or interact with the offering, making it less valuable for a customer.
From a research, the top factors why someone had a good experience at a hospital were related to interactions with personnel, including things like information flow, complaint handling, empathic and polite nursing staff, patient inclusion in decision making, a pleasant hospital environment, and the feeling of being cared for by a well-motivated team. Obviously medical outcome is important, but that is considered as the obvious reason. It’s not hard to imagine this in other situations. If you are a tourist, you don’t talk about your hotel room having a door, window, or bed until one is missing. You talk about how the entire journey made you feel, starting from the ad you may have seen, website, booking experience, how you were greeted, those smiles, the way everything made you feel at the end.
What makes service design critical for businesses?
Brands that invest in their service design and find ways to maximize what they have to offer their customers can help avoid these potential pitfalls through careful analysis of what the customer experiences every step of the way. The emphasis will be on efficiency, creating service goals and processes that will make customers happy, and helping the organization stand out as a customer-oriented company within the industry.
Customers are less influenced by the core product offering and more influenced by the entire experience around your core product offering.
Brands that excel at giving the best experience perform better than the competition.
Additional reading about Service Design and why it matters?
- Service Design Creates Breakthrough Customer Experiences
- Design: Because Great Customer Experiences Don’t Happen By Accident
- Designing The Employee Experience
- Why It Takes Guts To Do Human-Centered Design
- Why Should You Co-Create Your Customer Experience?
What do we mean when we say we do Service Design?
We build Brands. We do Branding and Communication Design. We build brands seeing the bigger picture. If branding is about making a promise, service design is about figuring out ways to keep the promise. When your customers see that you truly value them and care about the service you can provide them, they’ll be customers for life. If you break your brand promise, you will suffer negative effects by word of mouth, which can be even more damaging to a business than a direct negative experience. Your brand promise is tied to your brand reputation, and you want to make a big enough splash so that delivering on your promise ripples indefinitely!
As the airline famously remarked, “We realize you have a choice of airlines, and so we thank you for flying Delta.” All customers have a choice. Service Design is about making them choose you.
Service Design is made up of many ecosystems, including a company’s own internal culture, their approach to production and development, as well as the context of the product as it exists in the day to day life of the users. Think about how Apple represents not only the product, but also customer service combined with the branded architectural experience of the Apple store. Or how Tesla motors is not only considering the product (an electric vehicle) but also mapping out a plan for a network of electric charging stations in California.
Service Design is
a set of tools – Service Design gives you the tools to explore possible problems and opportunities. For every phase in the double diamond, there are Service Design tools and methods.
a process – Service Design is a structured process that provides grip at the uncertainty and fuzziness of the innovation process.
a cross-disciplinary language – With the customer at its center, Service Design creates a silo-breaking language and stimulates collaboration between departments.
a mindset – Service Design is having a passion for the customer and improvement, question everything, and not rush into solutions. Embrace uncertainty.
Service Design is a philosophy based upon the principles of design thinking, but focused on innovating services. We design brands considering ‘end-to-end’ experiences, instead of optimising the single touch-points of a product or service. Together we go through the entire innovation process, starting by talking to users to uncover issues and ending by testing our solutions with them. Only then can you design brands with purpose that will have meaning and lead to positive results.
We strongly believe in the combination of Service Design with Brand Design and Communication Design to make a difference in your company, because when your business and the service you provide is based on deep customer needs you create meaning for your customers.
Service Design Dictionary
A glossary of 400+ terms used by service designers.
Here a few of these fun terms that Daniele Catalanotto recommend that you check:
- Clown-Invariant Research Design
- Digital Divide
- Creeping Featurism