We are in an era where everything is becoming more customised, and technology continues to provides a vast variety of opportunities for making our lives more comfortable. There are a plethora of services and products in the market than can meet customer needs, but some of them are more preferable than others. Why is that? What makes one product or service more desirable than another?
The answer is quite simple, actually. The important thing is not the particular product or service - it is the experience you provide through your service or product. Focussing on the needs of your customers helps you to create solutions that delight and engage.
How do you know you need Service Design?
Retail banks provide an excellent example of what we are talking about.
You can deposit your money in a bank and get a reasonable interest rate on your savings; they can also execute all your transactions as well as manage your investments.
However, if you have to go to a branch for most of your banking needs, and you are obligated to wait in a huge queue each time you visit, you may walk away dissatisfied. The bank may also have lost an opportunity to assist you further than simply a single service.
Service Design seeks to address this challenge, providing experiences that are designed with the customer at the centre of the process.
So, what is service design exactly?
Service Design Theory
Service design is a discipline aimed at creating positive change in people’s lives by focusing on their needs and expectations. Simply put, service design:
- Unearths what people actually need and then presents a responsive solution to what they need or expect from a service
- Provides a composition of tangible and intangible values, helping customers differentiate and make choices between products/services
- Focuses on improving all customer experience within an organisation, both internal and external
- Involves both frontend and backend processes, to meet both internal and end customers’ needs
- Can be applied to build a new service or to improve an existing service
- Uses empathic thinking, because it is crucial to understand people’s behaviours and to be able to put yourself into someone else’s shoes to create a solution that delights
- Combines 3 approaches - Systematic, Holistic and Human Centred - to successfully define the optimal experience
Now, with this brief definition in mind, what could service design do to improve the banking experience that we described above?
- We would start by seeking to explore the current situation, listening to the customers’ voice and understanding their feelings and needs
- We would then seek to create a human-friendly digital experience for the various banking transactions - with an option that customers can complete the transaction without having to physically go to a branch, if preferred
- In addition to a well-designed digital experience, the service could be further enhanced so that your account manager could manage your account on your behalf through a secure authentication process
- Service Design also offers the opportunity to improve internal systems, so that the experience of all users (internal and external) is enhanced, providing not only better customer experiences, but also reduced waste and greater productivity
Service Design has become a critical function in providing customers with a personalised, fulfilling service experience. To have a positive and continuously improving impact on people’s lives, we need to focus on the key elements that underpin the design of an engaging service:
- understanding individual people and personas;
- identifying their needs and expectations; and
- building a functional, practical and creative solution that deliver on these needs and expectations with a harmonic choreography of the holistic, human-centred and systematic approaches.