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An ethos, method and toolkit

What is service design? It is an ethos, method and tool set that enables an organisation or business to get a handle on how they can better engage customers and deliver value to them. Service design enables an organisation to bring new focus on its relationship with customers (and prospective customers) and create a clear and compelling vision for how to engage customers better.

Service design – of course – focuses on services. Services are the glue of modern business and public life. Services connect us to the goods we need to lead our lives; be they groceries, mortgages or medical treatments. Services enable us to understand, access, receive, use and get help with these goods. We find it is in the services where most organisations fail customers and can dramatically improve performance.

Connecting customers and organisations

Service design exists to bridge the experience of customers with the activities of a business or organisation. We know that focus on the value customers receive and their experience is vital but we also know that this is only half of the equation. It is equally essential that organisations are able to translate customer understanding into actions that improve the performance of the business. Service design aims to enable businesses to move forward with their customers.

Enabling alignment and collaboration

If we had a dollar/euro/pound for every time we heard that a business is in silos we would be rich. Service design is unusual in being a cross cutting activity that can enable a new conversation between departments focused on how to deliver a service strategy. We aim to create the necessary shared view and collaborative environment that builds a more aligned business.

Engineering and architecture are useless without service design. There is no point investing in the pure physicality and technicality of any public service infrastructure if the service aspect is not well thought through and well planned.

Mr. Pansak, Chief advisor to the Prime Minister of Thailand

Movement from insight to implementation

Service design is action oriented. It is not in the business of creating reports. We want to create impact. Our approach is based in a fundamental understanding of the way that customers’ experiences and business activities are time-based and cyclical. The lifecycle of a relationship between customers and service providers enables us to focus on what moves people forward to get the most from the interaction.

Clarity, learning and focus

The service design toolkit brings clarity, it also brings the ability to test and learn. The activities of mapping (customer journeys, relationships, experiences) and testing (through prototyping and piloting services) are core to what service design offers a project or transformation process. Visualisation and testing enable businesses to learn and reduce the risk and fear of change.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Service design sprang from the identification of a problem. Where businesses have comprehensive product development processes they lack a clear methodology for developing their service and services to customers. Much of the dissatisfaction and lost productivity in our economies is due to services underperforming their potential. Service design offers a structured, clear and tangible approach to this need.

Ethos, method and tools

Service design is a mix of ethos, method and tools. There is a fundamental belief that customers and businesses can interact more productively. There is an approach that focuses on successful interactions and relationships through the service lifecycle. And there are tools that bring much needed mapping, visualization, testing and learning to ensure projects stand a better chance of success.

Previous editions View all (58)

A second reading of McKinsey on Design
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A second reading of McKinsey on Design

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Employee engagement: A salary is not all people work for
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Employee engagement: A salary is not all people work for

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Nudges aren’t the holy grail of behaviour change
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