The only person that everyone has in common is the customer - Interview with Ben Reason of Livework
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The only person that everyone has in common is the customer - Interview with Ben Reason of Livework

Adrian Swinscoe
  • Adrian Swinscoe
  • Business Partner

Today’s interview is with Ben Reason, founding partner of Livework, a leading service design firm. They help organisations with customer related challenges and how they affect the business and the organisation. Ben along with Lavrans Løvlie and Melvin Brand Flu, two other Livework partners, has recently published a new book called Service Design for Business: A Practical Guide to Optimizing the Customer Experience. Ben joins me today to talk about the book, what they have learnt, service design and how firms can use it to improve their customer experience.

Adrian Swinscoe is a consultant, author and teacher with a particular interest and experience in customer-focused businesses. He’s been conducting ‘a series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.’ His blog has recently featured an in-depth interview with our very own Ben Reason.

You can listen to it here: The only person that everyone has in common is the customer

Highlights of my interview with Ben:

  • Livework are a bit of a hybrid firm in that they get involved with designing and making things for clients but they also get involved with more strategic consulting opportunities as well as working with clients on implementation.
  • I have interviewed one of Ben’s fellow partners, Melvin Brand Flu before on this podcast in Do you know if you are irritating your customers?
  • Ben along with Lavrans Løvlie and Melvin Brand Flu, two other Livework partners recently published a book called Service Design for Business: A Practical Guide to Optimizing the Customer Experience.
  • The idea for the book came about as they were doing a lot of interesting work about five years ago but not enough things were going forward.
  • As a result, they realised that there was probably a gap in what they were doing in understanding how their design work would translate into culture or operational change.
  • Therefore, they invited Melvin, who they had been working with as a client, to join them as a business partner to help them build the organisational change element and improve the impact of their work.
  • The book is the story of Livework’s journey to date, how firms can incorporate service design into their organisations and how they can make it more business relevant and usable.
  • In fact, the book is full of accumulated learning, case studies, tools, experience but is also a statement of how Livework approaches customer challenges for clients.
  • The book is structured around 12 challenges that they have seen a number of their clients have and each is accompanied by a case study to illustrate the challenge and how it can be addressed.
  • Many firms talk about being collaborative but few are and most find it difficult. A service design approach offers a great set of tools that foster a collaborative approach.
  • The only person that everyone has in common is the customer.
  • We sometimes think that service design is an activity that everyone does and it’s useful to have some designers in the mix.
  • One of the case studies in the book features Norwegian insurer Gjensidige, which challenged Livework to help them understand and deliver what ‘more simple insurance’ would look like.
  • Ben tells another story about how they have helped re-engineer a travel insurance claim process where they identified that one of the main annoyances for customers when making a claim was that they were asked for their policy number.
  • Given that the customer is probably in a state of great stress if they are making a claim, they found out that this was having a negative impact on the customer’s experience. To improve that, they suggested that the agents should first ask how the customer was and what had happened. This helped put the ‘call’ on a much better footing and lead to a much better and smoother customer experience.
  • For anyone wanting to start on a service design journey and to start to use it to improve their customer experience, Ben advocates starting by figuring out how you can bring the customer into the organisation in tangible ways.
  • He suggests that a good first step is to go and talk to customers and then video what they have to say.
  • He advocates that this is better done informally through observation, immersion and going out into the field rather than using more formal research methods as it will give people from the organisation a more ‘visceral’ feel of what is happening in the customner’s experience.
  • Using a service design approach, because it is very visual and involves making prototypes, can also help business make decisions surrounding new initiatives and business models.
  • Ben illustrates this by telling a story about how they made a prototype of a new premium service initiative for Orange. They put the prototype in front of the client in a meeting and the client promptly picked it up, ran off with it and implemented it as they could instantly see that that was what they were trying to achieve.
  • To help people make decisions about new initiatives or ideas make it real.
  • Some service design books are quite weighty and dense tomes but this book is very practical, case study and tool rich.

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