What is service design?

What is Service Design and Why should you care

Are you still asking yourself what service design actually is? Is it connected to customer experience or user experience design? Let's try to shed some light on it.

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Possibly I'm getting older however there seem to be far too many buzzwords all referring to extremely similar things nowadays. Service Design being one of the most prominent ones. Are user experience design or customer experience design any different? As far as I can tell is not as much as you may think.

Well, digital transformation is also intertwining with these significantly.

Don't get me wrong, service design as user experience, customer experience and digital transformation are there to stay and each one has their very own connotation and reason to exist. However the amount of intersecting interdependencies in between these disciplines is significant. Someone would argue that is impossible to think about one without the other.

At the core, all of these subjects come down to a general acknowledgement by companies that customer behaviour and expectations have indeed changed and that they need to adapt. These disciplines are an attempt to do exactly that.


WHY IS SERVICE DESIGN WORTH YOUR ATTENTION?

Service design, as customer experience design, user experience design, are all addressing a shift in power.

In the past the companies held all the power; if a customer was disappointed, there wasn't much they could do.

For starters, the options were very limited. If someone was dissatisfied, their other alternatives were constrained to the brand names they were familiar with. Brand names they actually heard about watching ads or suggested by a group of friends or family.

They were also limited by location. Customers might just switch to providers who were accessible in their location. In some cases customers had an awful small amount of options as a result.

Over the past decade we experienced a drastic shift in power from the companies to the customers.

Not just that, but with the raising of reviewing systems we have access to whatever anyone has actually ever mentioned about that provider or vendor.

Back then if you were disappointed with services or products there wasn't much do much you could do but whine with a few friends. Today customers can show their disappointment to the world in a matter of seconds.

Roughly your typical customer has over 300 friends on Facebook. They can also come up with reviews, express their frustration on Twitter and quickly get in touch with other unhappy consumers.

Consumers have the ability to simply reveal their opinions about services and products immediately online to a worldwide audience.

Take, for instance, Hasan Syed. When he was distressed with British Airways, he published a promoted tweet to convey his disappointment. Whenever British Airways was mentioned on Twitter they got the reply:

Do not fly @BritishAirways. Their customer care is hideous.

Within hours this was scooped up by all the major media outlets including BBC and the Guardian.

One dissatisfied customer sufficed to generate a massive PR catastrophe for British Airways.

We now live in a world where the power lies with the customer, not the businesses and the customer understands it.

With so much choices and such a powerful voice, they have exceptionally high expectations. Expectations sustained by a brand-new generation of businesses that are investing greatly in supplying an exceptional experience through Service Design.

As Bridget van Kralingen, Vice President of IBM Global Solutions Providers} puts it:

There's no longer any real differences between business strategy and the design of the user experience. The last finest experience that anybody has anywhere ends up being the minimum expectation for the experience they expect everywhere else.

Simply put, customers expect the very same level of service from your company that they receive from obtain from Apple, Amazon or Uber.

It is this brand-new reality that has actually caused the increase of Service Design. However just what is it?

What is service design?

To comprehend service design, you should initially understand the altered definition of a service.


THE CHANGING NATURE OF SOLUTION PROVIDERS

In the past, a service and a product were generally two distinct things. Products were tangible concrete things you kept like a cars and truck, while a service was something intangible you utilized (like the postal service). The majority of companies would mostly provide one or the other.

Today, the lines are significantly blurring. Where as soon as you would purchase} your music (either as a CD or MP3), today you are just as most likely to use a service like Shopify or Apple Music.

Music used to be a physical product you purchased. Today it is a service you sign up for.

 

music as a service

Also increasingly significantly business are including extra value to items by including services to them. For instance, a TV could come with access to software application services that supply TV listings and movies downloads.

Numerous business are in need of adjusting to supplying services for the very first time, while others are having a hard times handling growing intricacies of services with unknown digital elements.

Plenty of physical products, such as your smart TV now feature digital services.

 

The pressure of using these brand-new services is exposing weak points in existing organisational structures, which is where service design comes in.

Service Design tackles Organisational pain points.

We have all experienced bad service. However the issue for that poor service hardly comes from the point of contact. Since organisations want to invest in customer-facing issues of their company, however shun on their backend experience. They fail to understand that shortcomings behind the scenes are affecting the experience of clients. It is on these elements of the experience that service design focuses. The issue for that poor service seldom comes from the point of contact.

It is on these elements of the experience that service design focuses.

There are countless areas that eventually can undermine the service a customer gets, much of which I have actually blogged about in the past. There are:

  • A business policies and protocols.
  • How an organisation runs its financial resources.
  • How a firm evaluates personnel and departments efficiency.
  • How an organisation structures itself.
  • The management design of management.
  • Personnel training.
  • The businesses proclivity for innovation.
  • How the business handles tasks.
  • How the organization makes decisions.
  • The company culture.
  • The organisation's mindset towards risks.
  • Compliance and legal guidelines.

The list goes on. Nevertheless, at the very core the influencing elements tend to fall under 4 areas:

The Individuals. Anyone who is involved in the service either directly or indirectly. For instance, although management has little direct contact with customers, they are still extremely influential in shaping their experience.

The Assets. The physical and digital touchpoints that the customer engages with, and the tools staff   utilizes to provide a service.

The Policies. The guidelines, and workflows the firm utilizes to supply the service.

The Culture. The unwritten rules that determine employees mindsets and methods.

The calling and thoughts behind the company's origins and history, management design and employee| worker experience.

Service design hinges on 4 primary areas of business operations.

Any of these areas can make or break the experience of users and mould the quality of the service they receive. Service design strives to enhance these elements to produce a much better experience.

It does this through a framework of concepts.


THE PRINCIPLES OF SERVICE DESIGN

Unsurprisingly, there is no conclusive framework for service designers.

Nonetheless, there are constants attributes in how service design is looking for organisational modification.

Usually speaking service design is:

Human-centered: Designed around the experience of all individuals touched by the service.

Collaborative: Stakeholders of different backgrounds and functions ought to be actively participating in the service design process.

Iterative: Service design is an exploratory, adaptive, and experimental method, iterating towards execution.

Sequential: The service needs to be envisioned and managed} as a series of interrelated actions.

Genuine: Requirements need to be assessed in reality, concepts prototyped in reality, and intangible values evidenced as physical or digital truth.

Holistic: Services needs to sustainably resolve the requirements of all stakeholders through the whole service and throughout the business.

This service design framework is similar to the type of concepts you see associated with those working in user experience design and digital transformation.

CONCLUSION 

How Does It stacks up with Other Disciplines?

Excellent user experiences take place beyond the screen and in the gaps. Gaps in between channels, gadgets and companies silos.

Right away that sounds quite much like Service Design. By providing an excellent experience doesn't just come down to the user interface, but the organisational processes providing that experience.

By estimating the Government Digital Service who refers to digital transformation as:

The realigning of, or brand-new investment in, innovation and company designs to better engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.

Once again, this might be easily reconnecting to much of what service design covers.

Nevertheless, unlike digital transformation, service design isn't restricted to digital.

In fact, when Lynn Shostack created the term in 1982, we had yet to see the scale of impact that we see today from technology and innovation.

However today, digital and service design go quite together. If you are considering digital transformation, you are undoubtedly discussing service design and vice versa.

The bond between user experience and service design is even closer. It seems rather a minor shift in angle and perspectives. 

User experience design tends to start with the experience and work backwards. It develops the best experience at the point of contact with the customer then looks into what the requirements to alter within the organisation to provide that. 

It could be argued that service design begins by aiming at make improvements in individuals, processes, assets and culture. That then indirectly goes on to affect the customer experience.

While user experience design concentrates on the customer-facing experience, service design starts with the behind the scenes procedures.

Personally, I discover myself more drawn to a user experience design outlook. I choose to start with completion experience we wish to  provide and work backwards in reverse.

However what appears is that whether you are discussing user experience, digital transformation or service design, you can not look at one without also thinking about the others.

Written by Tancredi Leone
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