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Why Designing the Service is only 1/2 of Service Design

Due to the pandemic, a good chunk of the business world is accelerating the servification trend.

Even big players that traditionally focused on products (for example, carmakers) are shifting towards a galaxy of services associated to their products.

The Direct-to-Consumers and Subscription model success are just two of many forces pushing brands to open new channels of communication and exchange of value with people.

But, as many advantages this revolution has brought, especially for end-users, there are a lot of risks involved.

To manage people expectations is not a side-hustle, whatever industry you’re in. It is a full-time commitment, one that could easily become very expensive. And one that never ends.

Service failings — exactly like products failings — are brand failings.

But since services rely (for the most, visible part) on people, it is just so much easier to fail, if you let the customer experience to be satisfied only by goodwill and chance.

That’s why the best practices for Service Design are always iterative approaches: there needs to be a balance between listening from your users and acting upon what you listened, and that what Service Design is about. That’s what all the beautiful brands that we like, do every day: make people gravitate happily around their services.

Solving problems for someone is not easy.

Of course it’s not. Especially if your mission is to solve them in the simple way possible, while harmonious with people’s lives.

For many companies new to this sector (that is not a “sector” anymore, since the traditional boundaries faded and become fluid) it’s usual to focus every effort in the Design of a Service: what the customer has to do, in order to satisfy their needs.

For many of them it’s just another process (and you can recognize this mindset by looking at scruffy instructions attached near a door about what you need to do to be served)

But Service Design is much more than this. In order to fulfil its mission, there are a lot of things that YOUR COMPANY needs to do, in order to let the user interact in a certain way.

Those processes are often deeply entangled with your business operational dramas. Those operational are often hidden but vital to the service fu. Many complex things need to be performed by multiple people and — in many cases — on a tight schedule.

This is not something that can happen happily by chance.

Imagine this.

You’re at a Zoom Meeting. Because… you know, Covid.

You’ve been listening (and wandering with your mind) for half an hour, gently nodding every now and then to show the world that you’re a functional human being.

Then, all of a sudden, someone asks you:

«Can you please retrieve and share, THAT specific version of THAT specific file, we discussed in an obscure meeting no one can remember at least two geologic eras ago?”

Of course, you say. And then you proceed to gather the file. You minimize the app and the browser where you’re scrolling the list of beaches you cannot reach anymore.

And then this happens.

A Messy Desktop.

You fake an “I got this” smile, while you start roaming into your folders, exploring the labyrinth of your hard drive like a 18th-century explorer explores the jungle: with a mixed feeling of fear and hatred.

Of course, you can search for the specific name of that specific file.

But what if you need to retrieve a specific version, 99% similar to another one, just a few modifications away from any other version of the same file. And you need need to find this immediately, because everyone is waiting for you.

For the service industry, that is usually the case.

Imagine that there is a client in front of you. Someone that has PAID for the very desperate search you are performing. What would she think of your service and of your brand? What would his experience look like? Will it leave a positive impact? Will he ask again for your services?

That’s why what users need to do, its just half of the story, or — in some cases — even less than that.

A lot of things needs to happen in a very specific timeline. This cannot happen by chance. This can only happen through Design.

Every company have a messy desktop that needs to be cleared in order to boost the user experience. Which one is yours?

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