Introduction to Service Design: Why service-oriented businesses need to know their customers?
Services has been around forever. Back in the days, they used to be much simpler, but after the digitalisation and the development of web and smart services, the world got much more complicated. Nowadays we interact with services online and offline all the time – from shopping, paying our bills, taking the public transportation to checking out on the parking lot.
It’s easy to differentiate good services from bad ones. Good services feel seamless to the user. They value customers’ time and aim to simplify their life. But in order to provide a good service we need to make sure that the whole process runs smoothly and that what we offer is answering our customers’ need. And that’s where Service Design comes into play.
Service Design is a human-centred approach, which uses empathy and design thinking techniques to build services which focus on the end customer. It analyzes and improves all steps of the process, the stakeholders involved and aims to make the customer experience a pleasure. But what does design has to do with service anyway? In this article we’ll explain to you what Service Design is, why is it crucial for any service-oriented business and how to apply it.
What is Service Design?
As Service Design we describe the application of design techniques to service-oriented challenges, shaping the end-to-end experience for the customer. It includes all the intangible aspects of how an organization seeks to build a relationship with its customers over time.
Due to the construct of many organisations today, employees and sometimes even whole departments don’t have direct interaction with the customers (e.g. IT department in a bank) or have very limited connection with them (e.g. Accounting for invoices, Sales for purchases). And that’s one of the things we , in launchlabs, aim to change. Other than redesigning mindsets and spaces, we’re strongly focused on reshaping experiences for the customers helping service-oriented businesses come closer to their users. Through Service Design we concentrate on the customer and design a path (or improve the existing one) so businesses can more clearly communicate things that their customers value and create services that suit their needs.
Think about it! How good do you really know your clients? Start by asking yourself these few simple questions:
- Who are your clients?
- How do you increase customer satisfaction?
- What is the biggest driver for your customers to choose you before the competitors on the market?
- What kind of business goals do you have and what vaue do you bring to your customers?
What do we use Service Design for?
The goal of Service Design is to put you in your customer’s shoes, to help you experience the service yourself, to visualize every step of the processes and identify all the non-functioning steps that need to be redesigned.
There are many examples for good service design practices. One of our favourite projects we’ve worked on was a challenge we helped VMware with. They were trying to improve the end-to-end customer experience for their latest cloud on-demand solution. Together, we did a 4 weeks sprint in which we analyzed the “as is” customer experience of choosing, buying, implementing and using cloud infrastructure Read the whole case study here.
Currently, we’re working together with Raiffeisen Bank supporting them to redesign their customer experience and improve the customer journey for their credit card holders. And these are just two examples of ur praxis.
The Service Design Tools: Personas, Customer Journey Map, Service Blueprint
After we’ve explained what Service Design is and why knowing your customers is crucial for every service-oriented business, it’s time to learn some Service Design tools and see how we can apply them.
To start with, we need to get to know our customers better and build their Personas. This tool helps us narrate the different types of users we have, based on clusters of behaviours and needs. Each persona becomes a reference model representative of a specific type of users. They’re often called behavioural archetypes, because they focus more on capturing the different behaviors without expressing a defined personality or socio-demographics.
For a well-known bookstore in Sofia for example, we created three different personas, based on their customers, which we then used as a focus point when we were redesigning the space and the navigation of the people in the store.
Very often providing good service is dependant on many different stakeholders and participants throughout the process. That’s where the Journey Map and the Service Blueprint come in handy. Firstly, with the Journey Map, we describe step-by-step how a customer interacts with a particular service. The process is mapped from the user perspective, describing what happens at each stage of the interaction, what touchpoints are involved, what obstacles and barriers they may encounter. Depending on the service, this journey might happen digitally or analog, that’s why we look at the cross-channel content strategy or the so called ‘’omnichannel’’ so we’re sure that our services are accessible and easy to find through different clients’ patterns.
After we have mapped the customer journey, we create a Service Blueprint which gives us an overview of all parties, involved in the process and helps us to not miss any important phases and parties along the way.
If you’re interested in Service Design and you want to learn more, come join our Service Design Masterclass on 6-7 March at ARC Academy. In these two days, we’ll go through the process and tools of service design, and how you can apply them to create an outstanding customer experience. Save your spot here.
– Vihra and the launchlabs Sofia team