In the last few years, we’ve rapidly and intentionally grown our service design practice. Today, more and more of us have a perspective to share—and not just the designers! Service design touches everyone involved in the delivery of a service; accordingly, this post includes a few thoughts from designers, operations, and marketing at Cooper.
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For me, Service Design is all about freeing ourselves to think beyond small screens we design for (and have been engrossed in) for years. It’s the logical evolution of digitally centered UX.
Service design is super interesting to me because it’s a way of looking at marketing from a 10,000 ft view. Where are customers building relationships with organizations? Where aren’t they? Why is that? As a small 2 person team, it’s easy to get mired in making sure the day-to-day necessities are covered and strategy gets pushed to the side more often than I’d like. Service design has given me some tools and a perspective to make crafting strategy faster.
We’ve done it for so long without formalizing it. It was just a part of solving problems with our clients for their users. Having the shared language and formal boundary objects will let us engage with a global community of practice, and that pushes several of my good nerd buttons at once.
Service design humanizes the work of making money. What would happen if we put people first, and focused on value exchange instead of monetary gain?
I’ve seen service design strike a chord for lots of varied reasons: services can build and foster community, service design is an end-to-end practice, a service focus allows you to build more effective processes… For me, I get most excited about service design because it humanizes the work of making money. The reality is that business models and company practices are for the organization first, people second. What would happen if we put people first, and focused on value exchange instead of monetary gain?
Service design gives us a chance to bring a new perspective to profit.
It focuses on systems of unique relationships and partnerships, and the processes they create, instead of on systems of interchangeable actors. It focuses on meeting identified needs of real people to drive the creation of competitive advantage. It helps us design solutions that consider not just a touch point or an identified problem at hand, but also the exchange of value in the context of human needs and market competition. The business world needs service designers, and the world needs businesses designed for both profit and human value(s).
This is a huge opportunity. If you fix internal systems, it ultimately leads to a company’s success.
Learning more about service design, I’m seeing how other companies are operating in silos and having problems because they’re thinking only about one touchpoint in a journey. Why aren’t companies understanding a little bit more about human behavior, why are they still starting from ground zero? I think companies rarely have time to look inward; even with the best of intentions, everyone is too busy. It’s too easy to get overloaded and end up operating in crisis mode, or with short term solutions.
Internally, we have problems just like any other company. In my role, I have the opportunity to effect change, but how do I best bring my ideas to the table? How do I implement that change? Service design is helping me think more holistically about the problems I face in HR and internal customer service.
This a huge opportunity. If you fix internal systems, it ultimately leads to a company’s success. It makes happier, more successful, more efficient system and people.
Good interaction design is holistic—it is most successful when approached through human-centered or goal-directed design, while considering the whole person (physical, individual, social and spiritual), and done so all through a systems way of thinking. What gets me excited about service design is that it follows the same process! While interaction design is based in digital, service design looks at a range of touchpoints, digital being one of those possible touchpoints. We get to look at an entire experience, from every touchpoint, not just technology!
In the past I have worked with clients who hired us to focus on a single touchpoint only to discover that the real challenge lies elsewhere in the system. Some of them resisted this information — and ultimately were not very successful because of it.
I don’t see service design as especially distinct from interaction design (or whatever label you prefer). Some of the tools and techniques may be different from designing for a specific touchpoint, but the tools and techniques used should always reflect the task at hand and should vary from project to project. The tools and techniques used to craft a marketing website are going to be different from those used to create a mobile-enabled B2B enterprise solution, too.
Given that, for me what is most exciting about service design is the permission/buy-in from the organization that it represents. In the past I have worked with clients who hired us to focus on a single touchpoint only to discover that the real challenge lies elsewhere in the system. To their credit, some of these have taken this to heart and either allowed us to consider the full system for them, or have gone on to tackle the full system later on. And some of them resisted this information — and ultimately were not very successful because of it.
A client who recognizes that what they need is service design is a client who will let us make a genuine difference in their customers’ experience, and that is what gets me excited!
Interested in learning more about service design? Check out our Transforming Customer Experience course!