Service Design for Business: From customer advocate to business tool

Service Design for Business: From customer advocate to business tool

A decade ago Service Design found support from the “customer enthusiasts” on the fringes of corporate life. A decade on, Service Design has evolved into a powerful tool for mainstream business managers. This article describes key aspects that make Service Design highly relevant for people in a business role.

Design for customers, the business and the organisation

Service Design can impact a company in three fundamental dimensions: customers, the organisation and the business.

A Service Design approach starts by helping managers and team members to understand customers, and see their organisation from the outside in.

The challenge is to balance customer experience improvements with business drivers and organisational challenges.  Here’s how.

Improve customers’ experience

Few people will argue with the idea customer is the most important stakeholder in any organisation. The value of Service Design to business is that it offers concrete ways to translate this idea to action.

Design for 80% of customers

Combine knowledge of the experience of individuals what the majority of customers experience with the company. When a business is able to isolate the factors that impact on the experience of 80% of customers, it can act in certainty that improvement will make a difference on an industrial scale.

Understand customer’s experience of the industry

It is a common mistake to forget that customers’ experience is more heavily affected by their perception of an industry than any particular company within it. Gain a clear picture of how customers behave within the sector, to see where there is potential to differentiate.

Understand the full customer lifecycle

It is a common trap to identify and fix a particular painful interaction without really understanding whether it will impact on the customer relationship at large. Service Design can help companies understand the major experiences customers have in a typical 5-7 year lifecycle and us it to prioritise business effort.

Create business impact

When a company understands customers and their experience, a Service Design approach enables companies to do things that win with customers and bring value to the business.

Identify customer and business hotspots

Hotspots are points in a service – in an experience – that can be identified as clear opportunities to increase customer satisfaction or where the business can improve performance.

Design high-impact interventions

Once the hotspots are known, companies can use a customer lifecycle as a way to map potential intervention points. This enables them to understand where they can intervene with customers to make the most impact for the business.

Make a robust case

With a clear view of hotpots and potential fixes across the customer lifecycle, business teams can compare options and build powerful cases for change and improvement, and return on investment.

Deal with organisational challenges

Understanding customers – especially their needs and expectations of an organisation – helps simplify a lot of internal challenges around processes, systems and staff.

Understand implications across channels, department and the organisation

1) Customers and channels

Map customers’ journeys and how they align with different channels such as online, retail, call centres, marketing etc. Single out the interventions that make a real difference to customers, and can be delivered with reasonable effort.

2) Customers and departments

Map customers’ journeys and how they align with different units in the organisations such as operations-, marketing-, and IT-departments. Highlight the challenges the company will face if different functions need to collaborate better to achieve customer impact.

3) Customers and organisation

Map customers’ journeys and how they align with structures that go across the business such as policies, processes, and systems. Flag areas where the internal point of view is misaligned with the customer experience, to highlight barriers that will be too costly to overcome and promising business opportunities.

Enable change on scale

Take a “train the trainer” approach to design, and engage the organisation on scale in creative service design. It will gain buy-in for change and build a solid basis for implementation.

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Anne van Lieren Blogger
Lead Service Designer

Anne van Lieren

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