2,5 minute read

What is Service Design? Why is it on the rise?

To quote Wikipedia, Service Design is “the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service to improve its quality, the interaction between the provider, the users and their experience altogether”.

But… why is there so much talk on Service Design as an ideal methodology in Digital Transformation processes? Without a doubt, due to its results in terms of innovation and agility. The key factor, from my point of view, lies in its transversal and multidisciplinary approach around a single objective: the improvement of the global user experience.

Characteristics of Service Design

To be more specific, Service Design encompasses the following characteristics:

  1. It is user-centered. Understanding the user is key in any service design process.
  2. These are processes that involve multidisciplinary teams and, many times, different stakeholders (the clients themselves are often part of the process – and they should always be so, in my opinion).
  3. It advocates simplicity as opposed to complexity. That means, it unravels the service, which is often complex, in different very simple and evident processes that can be (re)designed.
  4. It is a multi-channel approach: it takes into account all touchpoints, in any channel. It provides a very holistic view of the service.

Service Design Methodology

Service design consists of four main phases. For each phase there are many methods that can be used, depending on the particular situation.

Let’s review them:

PHASE 1: Framing the need

In this first phase we try to understand the concrete need in order to approach the Service Design process with very clear objectives. You can use techniques such as the stakeholder map, which helps us see all the people that are related to the service or workshop which, as its name indicates, help us align visions from different departments or teams to ensure that the starting point is the same. Personal interviews are also very frequent at this stage in order to delve deeper into the specific insights of each stakeholder.

PHASE 2: Analysing the situation

Once we are clear about the problem or concern, we need to understand the current situation and, most importantly, the customer experience. For this, the technique par excellence that is used is Journey Mapping, which allows us, via a simple diagram, to capture the different phases of a service, analyse the strengths and weaknesses (pain points) from the point of view of the user, their real insights, and study how these affect the various stakeholders of the service. 

Another useful exercise is to define different archetypes, in which we explore the diverse targets of the service in depth or sessions with the clients themselves or future users of the service. This technique also works very well.

PHASE 3: Envisioning the future

And we arrive at the point when it is time to create and envision those solutions that are going to result in a truly value-added service. In this phase, ideation techniques or brainstorming sessions are used to draw what will be the future journey map and create the first conceptual prototypes.

PHASE 4: Pilot and planning

The fourth phase (which is not the last, because Service Design is an agile and iterative process), responds to the execution of the first pilot following a series of proposals. From this point forth, the implementation will be carried out periodically and/or in constant iteration with the aim to continuously improve.

This is just the first glimpse at Service Design. How would you like to try it in your Digital Transformation process?