What is Service Design?

Opening a bank account, watching Netflix, buying a ticket, filing a complaint or repairing a car are just a few examples of services that we are surrounded by. We use them remotely, or on-site or we combine these two worlds by handling some matters in the bank branch and some using the bank's mobile application.

Each of us employs services and brands to help us achieve our goals.

Here are some examples:

  • I want to save money - I will select a bank and open a savings account;

  • I need to relax - I will go to a travel agency and take an all-inclusive vacation;

  • I want to watch something interesting - I will subscribe to Netflix and take advantage of their streaming offer;

  • I want to eat without leaving home - I will call a restaurant and have food delivered to my door;

  • I want to have a washing machine that is under warranty repaired - I will contact a warranty service centre.

What is a service?

Before we go any further, let's establish what a service even is.

Service, is a staggered and unfolding offline or online interaction over time.

These interactions, are what are called moments of truth, where value is created (or not) for the customer. Every interaction also breeds an experience.

And although we don't think about it every day, each of these services consists of certain steps and actions we need to take to achieve our goal (e.g. open a bank account). These steps and whether e.g. making a complaint is easy for us, whether we know where to find some information or how to get to a new car repair shop, also create some experience for us. It can be negative, neutral or positive.

Stop for a moment and recall:

  • one service that in the last six months, when using it, made you feel irritated, angry, confused and thinking "who invented this"

  • and one that in the last six months, when using it, made you smile, feel positive, and think it went smoothly.

Your experience and whether or not you reach your goal is primarily a result of how that service was built and whether or not someone thought through how it would work from the perspective of the customer, which is you.

And it is the work of building services that Service Design does.

Service design definitions

Having typed "service design definition" into Google you will get a lot of results. And possibilities. And there is no right one, because in fact each of them talks about the same thing.

For example, according to the Design Council, "Service design is about delivering a useful and usable, efficient and effective, and a desirable service. (...) So service design projects are strategic projects that use design techniques such as customer research, generating shared ideas, and early prototyping and testing generating prototypes and tests, in order to deliver services whose foundations are built around real user needs (...)."

The Service Design Network's definition states that "Service design is a co-creative process of researching, envisioning, and then designing the customer experience at various points of contact with the brand”.

At FUZERS we stick to the definition that says "Service Design is first and foremost a way of thinking, supported by a design process and a set of methods and tools. It puts the customer at the centre, the task (duty) with which the customer comes to us and the experience he receives. Its goal is to deliver services that are valuable to both customers and business."

Services in business, or servitization

In connection with the growing importance of services, the phenomenon of servitization has appeared, i.e. either changing products into services or encasing the offered products in a service offer.

An example is Office 365.

The possibility of using Microsoft Office on a subscription basis (fixed low fee every month, with the possibility to resign at any time) in place of the need, common not long ago, to purchase expensive software once, and then incur the cost of updating it.

Another example of using servitization is Spotify.

Service Design Assumptions

Regardless of the scale of use, it's worth remembering the most important service design assumptions.

1. Taking into account the voice, experience and goals of the customer

And not just the perspective of the organization and the people creating the process. In service design, we believe that the voice of the user matters. Which is not to say that the customer is always right.

2. Collaboration based on co-creation with customers and employees

And combining different competencies and perspectives. Thanks to that we create solutions valuable for our clients and business.

3. Continuous improvement

Service design is not a one-time activity. It is rather like Sisyphean work that needs to be done constantly. And regularly monitor the business effects of implemented changes and adjust them to the changing reality and customer requirements.

Why Service Design?

Service design pays off. Both to customers and to business.

Companies that are customer-centric generate 4-8% more revenue than the rest of the industry.

96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of brand loyalty.

Companies working to improve the customer experience see employee engagement increase by an average of 20%.

A Design Council study of 63 large organizations found that companies that put design as part of their strategy (understood as a way of thinking, not just pretty packaging) outperformed their competitors who didn't do so by an average of 200% over 10 years.

According to a Defaqto Research study, 55% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. A great example are i.a. low cost airlines where we pay for additional services (e.g. more legroom) - it's nothing but an exchange. Money in exchange for better customer experience.

Better understanding of customer needs and perspectives

In the Service Design process, you will gain a solid understanding of your customers, their motivations and needs. This will help you move from saying "we think customers need this" to "we have evidence that they do". This is the first step to building a real competitive advantage.

Develop a culture that supports innovation

Service design processes support the development of three key components of an innovation culture. The first is curiosity and a willingness to discover customer needs. The second is the ability to collaborate with others and go beyond one's own perspective. The third is a sense of shared responsibility and a belief that small and large changes in the company depend on me, not just on "them" (the - management, the boss, another department).

Development of future competences

Preparing and conducting a service design process is an art of combining many different people, areas, fields, methods and tools. It is a school of life when it comes to project management, creativity, change management and ability to cope in a dynamic and changing environment. And this is an essential competence in business.

Positive impact on brand image

Brands that can show, in practice, that their customers' opinions are important for them definitely gain in their eyes. Service Design assumes the involvement of customers, employees and business partners in the design process and joint creation and testing of solutions. This builds a unique relationship and experience with the brand.

Breaking silos

One of the key tenets of the Service Design approach is co-creation, a situation where your team is involved in the process from the beginning. Thanks to that, they don't just become a recipient of an action commissioned e.g. to another department or an external partner, but a co-creator of it. What's more, co-creation also involves representatives from other business areas (we break silos) and customers (we go beyond our own view of the challenge).

Reducing Time to Market

If you want to implement the developed solutions quickly, Service Design offers a whole range of methods and tools that will help you create or improve the service within a few weeks or days.

Reducing the cost of revisions

By involving customers in the Service Design process and the emphasis on rapid prototyping and testing with them, you get real-time information about what should be changed and improved in the created or improved service. In this way the number of corrections in the final version of the service will be much smaller than in a situation when you create a complete solution "in lock-up" for months and then immediately introduce it to the market.

Service Design Thinking Process

The service design process can be shown on different models. At FUZERS, we rely on the double diamond model proposed by the Design Council.

This is a structured service design process that consists of the following steps:

PREPARATION, is the step we added to the design process. During it we get to know the client's business, how companies make money and what market they operate in.

CHALLENGE, is when we define the first design challenge. It may change later, but you have to start somewhere.

DISCOVERY PHASE, also called the empathization phase, is the time when the team goes deep into the subject matter of the task. This is the time of research, user studies, discovering insights and broadening their perspective on the main problem.

DEFINING PHASE is the stage when from the gathered broad and deep knowledge we extract key conclusions and define or redefine project goals and KPIs (key performance indicators).

CO-CREATION PHASE is the stage during which by combining forces, various competencies and experiences, we co-create optimal solutions integrating customer needs (internal and external) with business needs and compare them with feasibility criteria.

THE TESTING PHASE is the stage in which we create prototype solutions and test them on a smaller scale. In this phase we verify hypotheses, examine the first user experience and catch possible problems at an early stage.

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE. The key, but also the most difficult stage in service design. This is the moment of connecting different areas of the organization around one goal - the introduction of a service on the market.

MONITORING PHASE. In designing a service, it is necessary to constantly monitor new or improved processes. Therefore, at this stage we check the assumptions, examine the scalability of solutions, as well as monitor the effects of changes.

SCALING IN THE ORGANIZATION. To achieve sustainable change and real improvement in metrics through service design, it is essential to build broad support and awareness of this approach within the organization. This will support building a culture of innovation and focus on the user perspective.

CHECKPOINTS. These are moments of pause in the process where we analyze the situation and make business decisions about whether and how we work next. This allows us to verify on an ongoing basis whether the process is meeting our strategy and the goals of the company or organization.

Service Design Tools

In service design we use many methods and tools. Some of them are adapted from other fields and set in a new context. Some are created strictly for Service Design.

In my opinion, the most important tools in service design are:

Persona, or customer profile

A tool known in many areas that is also used in user centered approaches, which include service and experience design. It allows for better understanding of users and their problems and needs.

Empathy map

It allows us to look at the world through the eyes of people who use the service or will have contact with it. Based on it we can better understand what kind of interaction and communication the client expects.

Customer Journey

A customer journey map showing how the customer moves through your process. It describes each point of contact between the customer and your brand and the process from their perspective and shows which moments in the process are key in terms of a purchase decision and which elements of the service are positive, important or annoying to them.

Value proposition

It helps to understand what value will stand behind our service. It also helps to determine what information people in our target group may need in order to pay attention to our products and services.

Service Blueprint

Second, after the customer journey, most important tool for designing services. It allows the users' perspective to be combined with capabilities and current processes of the organization. As a result, we obtain a complete model showing the points of contact between users and the brand as well as the entire process and people who are responsible for user experience.

Design Service, how long does it take?

Designing can take from a few days to several months. It all depends on the adopted model of work and the goals that are set by the client who wants to work on user experience.

Service Design for whom?

Products and services can be created by both small and big companies. That is why, regardless of what kind of company you are, it is worth paying attention to service design, user experience and other approaches to process innovation.

Service Design vs Design Thinking

In Poland, a very popular approach that also puts the customer and their needs at the centre is Design Thinking. Service Design and Design Thinking are built around one idea - design based on understanding human needs. The steps of the design process and the assumptions are similar, and the tools and methods used intertwine. Both terms are often used interchangeably, they even sound very similar, but despite the numerous similarities and convergences, they are not the same thing. What is Design Thinking and what is Service Design you will learn from our article.

User Experience, where to start?

Both when you are thinking about a new service or want to create a new product, and when you need to collect data and improve the existing process. The "organizational maturity model in the area of Service Design and Customer Experience” can help in this. It allows you to determine how advanced your company is in the use of human-centered design methods.

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