Sunday, July 24, 2011

Service Design Explained

If you are not a designer understanding design seems like a pretty much impossible task. Unless you're a design student or in the industry, most people don't even know why they would even need a designer or what a designer would actually do. Most people certainly would know there are actually 12 different design disciplines recognised.

So by the time we get to talking about this, it seems like the only people still understanding the conversation are the service designers themselves. It is also relatively new; it didn't really kick off until 2004. So what is Service Design? Why do we need it? Why should customers be happy about it?

Frontier (2011) defines Service design as "service design is a holistic way for business to gain a comprehensive, empathic understanding of customer needs."

This service is actually pretty easy to explain. It is design, which is all about creating services from a customer's point of view. It is about meeting their needs and improving their experience with a company.

There are some basic principles when it comes to Service Design. The first rule is its all about the customer. The design process involves following customers through their experiences of certain services and detailing how customers feel, did they get their needs met, are they satisfied? The service process can require some organizations to dramatically rethink in order to focus on customer needs, rather than their own needs.

Service Design is about experience. The process involves experiencing services as customers do then working to come up with alternative, improved experiences. This is where things start to get a bit hard to understand but basically a designer will try to come up with ways to solve problems which do not yet exist. These solutions should improve a customer overall experience of a service.

Service Design uses a lot of techniques with impressive sounding names, like video-ethnography, envisioning, dialoguing.These are just complicated ways of say they watch videos of customers going about their business with the company. They imagine how things could be better and then they talk about it. Don't be scared of the designer speak in a lot of Service Design articles.

It recognises that due to the nature of providing services it is very difficult to reach 100% standardisation. In other words, when people are involved in providing something for another there will always be differences in the results. In even more basic terms, People stuff up, have bad days and are bad at their jobs. Service Design acknowledges this and works around it to help customers.

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