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The journey to adopt Service Design

A Picture of Alejandra Rodriguez
March 20, 2019 | Topic: Design  
The journey to adopt Service Design

If you clicked on this blog you are probably already thinking about embarking on Service Design or you are already going through a transformation to make your organization more service oriented. You came to the right place. Here you will find best practices to introduce Service Design into your organization and the key elements that compose a great customer experience.

What are the best practices to introduce Service Design?

Before we think about changing structures and delegating tasks, it’s important to understand that implementing a Service Design approach into an organization is a process that might take months or even years. Although customer-centric approaches are a must for organizations today, many companies still prioritize their own technology or business needs, before the expectations and needs of their customers.

As a result, the first step to start your transformation is to educate the entire organization on what Service Design is and what its principles are. Put simply, Service Design means aligning processes, people, and infrastructure to deliver meaningful services to customers. This means that the design of services involves all areas of an organization, including those that are invisible to the customer. The orchestration of those areas aims to align customer needs with business and technology needs, placing users as the top priority.

Click here to examine in depth the concept of Service Design.

However, the theory needs to be put into practice. Dedicate time and resources to encourage your team to start implementing Service Design practices. It’s important that they are familiar with the different ways of ideating and creating experiences for customers. If possible, designate a physical space where everyone can meet and contribute their specific knowledge. Provide a board where individuals can map out processes and ideas. Working visually is a great strategy to reveal hidden connections between concepts. When groups of people work visually to try to solve a problem, they are able to identify and understand different perspectives, build on top of each other’s ideas, iterate and refine the result. This video shows an interesting approach to problem-solving using visual resources.

Some companies choose to hire a design agency to help them transition into Service Design. These agencies help them go through a process of understanding, learning, participating, and eventually embedding Service Design practices. It’s advisable to create hybrid teams of designers and non-designers in order to integrate operations and delivery areas with the departments that are responsible for creating and maintaining consistency during the customer journey. Hybrid teams enable organizations to create shared accountability of the customer experience.

Jamin Hegeman, VP of Design at Capital One, proposes in this video a new role in Service Design: a Service Experience Officer. This person would be responsible for the overall customer experience. Hegeman says “no one owns the end-to-end customer experience” not even the president. As a result, the Service Experience Officer would be accountable for a seamless customer journey. It’s a good proposition; however, it’s debatable. Having a single person to hold accountability of the overall customer journey might actually contradict the essence of Service Design, which is the orchestration of every department of a company so they are all accountable for the service delivered. The presence of a Service Design Officer might hold people back from taking ownership of their processes. However, this depends to a great extent on the organization’s ability to adapt to new practices.

Another step in transitioning from traditional practices to Service Design is to evaluate how those departments and processes that are invisible to customers are working in relation to what the customer sees and experiences. Put simply, examine if your backstage and frontstage are aligned; in this case, the backstage represents all the efforts behind the creation of a service and the front stage the moment when the service is delivered. Read more about the importance of the front stage and backstage here.

Bear in mind that in service design, users are not only the customers but also the workforce that builds the service. Ask yourself what you want to know about your work team. Prepare some questions and conduct internal research. Are your internal users happy and efficient enough to provide a valuable service to your end users?

What are the key elements of good services?

We just explored some strategies for companies to successfully introduce and embed service design. But what does a good service look like? Introducing service design into everyday practices means that organizations won’t be searching to deliver an isolated product, but enjoy a consistent and seamless journey from start to end. Let’s explore what the key elements of good services are.

Service designers must consider two essential points: the peak of the experience (which means the most extreme moment, whether it’s positive or negative) and the end of the experience. In psychology, the peak-end theory states that people assess their experiences based on these two moments as we remember them in detail. As a result, Service Design must ensure a positive peak moment and an end experience that is worth remembering. Customer journey mapping, which we explore in our blog Service design Thinking, is one of the most effective methods to ensure a good beginning and end of an experience as it maps out the customer’s emotions along their journey.

Personalization is also a key aspect of a good service. Although we find patterns in the way customers behave, each individual is a different universe. Successful companies have been able to maintain a level of personalization even though they have an astronomical number of customers. This article from Prototypr shows how the giant Apple offers a great customer service thanks to a familiar language to address the user. This evidences the importance of paying attention to the words we choose to speak with our customers. Today, more and more companies are thinking about the potential of UX writing and microcopy to boost their services and customer experience.

Another key aspect of a good service design is to understand that services don’t finish at the end. Once customers have used the service, it’s important to follow up. Make sure you show your willingness to keep helping them – whether it is with the installation or maintenance of a product or helping them plan their next trip abroad. This provides valuable insights and feedback to improve the service for future clients.

Finally, embedding service design into the structure and practices of an organization is a process that requires understanding, learning, and applying. Dedicated resources, visual tools and hybrid teams of designers and non-designers are great strategies to introduce and embed a holistic approach of services into your organization. Educate your employees and work in building a company culture based on collaboration and co-creation, as they are the pillars of good service design.

Service Design: Providing meaningful end-to-end experiences

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