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Service design: the high impact customer experience discipline

Customer experience as a concept has huge support. Few argue that customers aren’t important, and we know how even small experience changes can have major business impact. However, the practice of customer experience within organisations is a fight. Customer experience professionals need all the firepower they can get and may be missing out on a major weapon. Service design.

Aligning business, organisation and customer engagement

Customer experience is a fight on three fronts: a fight to garner serious business support, a fight to change practices within complex organisations and a fight to actually engage customers in order to deliver a better experience. Service design offers an approach and toolkit that is designed to address these three challenges – business, organisation and customer engagement.

Service design: connecting customers to the organisation

Customer experience by its very nature has to deal with the emotions of customers, – their irritations and desires. But it must also deal with the logic of business manifested in the processes and systems that deliver services to customers. Any holistic customer experience approach needs to be able to cope with both. Service design blends the creative storytelling needed to inspire customers, staff and leaders with the analysis and structure needed to deliver business results.

Bridging the gap between insights and action

Service design is a practical discipline. Our goal is to see tangible outcomes in customers’ lives and results for businesses. It is different to more traditional customer experience approaches. Service design translates customer insights into concepts and specifications for a better experience. Service design deliverables are practical and tangible designs for how to deliver an improved service.

Start with compelling business scenarios

Service design starts with what matters to businesses. Whether it is a need for increased sales, to reduce cost to serve or to retain customers. Our goals are clearly defined and the options for how to attain them provide the scope and parameters for a service design. These business scenarios provide the clarity needed to gain support and sponsorship.

An insights driven, creative and collaborative (design) process

The central challenge for customer experience professionals is to effect change in response to insights and data about customers’ experience. This task requires a highly engaging approach to pull people from their internal organisational day-to-day into the customers world. Service design achieves this by using customer insights to engage the emotions and logic of stakeholders. It then enables them to respond to those insights with tangible concepts that are in their area of control but also contribute to a greater vision.

Define customer engagements work in practice

Finally service design has a secret weapon. We are able to move from insights into action by designing the journeys, interactions and behaviours in detail and in ways that communicate clearly and inspire. This is the point where the design toolkit of storytelling, scenarios, visualisations, diagrams and prototypes comes to play. We can make the experience real because we are trained to make things, test things and improve them based on real world feedback. Few businesses have this capability.

Service design helps customer experience move the organisation

Customer experience is ideally a cross cutting function that sees the business through customers’ eyes rather than through the structure of the organisation and it’s silos. This unique perspective is invaluable but needs a way to translate the customer view into an organisational reality. Service design is an approach and toolkit that enables customer experience professionals to achieve the change they need to see in the business.

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