Service Design for dummies


Hands on service design, what is that exactly?

Service design is literally what it sounds like: designing services.

When I talk about product design, most of you would come up with a similar idea; the design of products or goods by a company so that they fit the customers needs in the target market. In other words, the design of something tangible.

However, if we stop to reflect on the world around us, we might become aware by the shift society is experiencing nowadays. Extra emphasis on the term experiencing. It’s no longer only about the design of physical products, but also about the creation of unique and valuable intangible experiences customers involve in. Without any doubt, a fundamental change from a manufacturing society to an information- and service-based economy is distinguishable. While the share of services in the gross economic product is around 60-70%, business start-ups and new jobs can almost exclusively be found in the tertiary sector.

1 - © Kite consultants

© Kite Consultants

Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants, so that the service is user-friendly, competitive and relevant to the customers. – Service Design Network

Users’ interactions with products are static, predetermined, and cannot be easily varied over time; while a service is dynamic and cannot be fully pre-programmed since services are co-created with users.


2 - The Five Principles of Service Design Thinking

© Matt Tyas for the Global Service Jam. Insights from the Service Designer Marc Stickdorn’s book “This is Service Design Thinking”

Service design involves both tangible and intangible aspects, from physical products to communication and environment, forming what we know as Product-Service Systems; constructing practices that will ultimately deliver valuable capacities for a particular customer to carry out specific actions. Service Designers visualize, formulate and choreograph solutions that are not yet available. They watch and interpret needs and behaviors and transform them into potential future services.

3 - Service Design Process map - Sampsalad

© Sampsalad

Let me illustrate this ‘service design’ theory with a few examples. Businesses such as banking, airline bookings and check-ins, shipping processes and patient-care systems are examples of service-based companies. Think also of eBay, or collectives such as Wikipedia. Those are examples of rich and sophisticated combinations of basic linguistic deliverables that expand customers’ capacities to act and produce value for themselves and for others. In an abstract sense, services are networked intelligence.

The quality of the service provided in companies is one of the main reasons why consumer would be loyal to that firm and re-purchase again and again…


Author: Jimena Garcia Mateo

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