Service Design Thoughts

Written by on 24th August, 2011

Have you ever thought about plotting your company services on a map, then having a creative problem solver look at it to see how best those services (you have in place) actually work and deliver the product and brand? I was inspired by a Design Wales seminar / workshop, by Paul Thirston that explored Service Design. Thus begins my journey.

I believe I could have good, creative and constructive design ideas for business services and their design. So, thinking randomly of something tangible to explain this further… OK, the London Underground. How does that service work? It relies on tube trains communicating their arrival times to passengers on a digital platform display. That digital display is just one tiny but essential part of the service; this service can be subjected to a review of how it performs in many different areas, such as its reliability, its accuracy, its effectiveness, right down to the size of font on the display. Put a creative, problem-solving mind into that service area and you could come up with a whole plethora of new ideas that could improve that service. Put this into the context of how the whole transport network is run and how it delivers services and you have a huge amount of service design issues to address. Staff service, ticket purchasing, way finding, comfort, emergency procedure etc.

Like all good design solutions, if services were designed to be more efficient and effective this could save London Transport spending on unnecessary improvements, and delivering a more satisfying experience to its users. On a smaller scale, many directors spend so much time working "in" their businesses rather than "on" it. (I quote Peter Brooks, Ashgrove). A service designer can help you see things from a different perspective; they can join the dots in your service to customers. From making sure your brand is communicated across the five senses, to making complex processes easier. In reality, we can plot, plan and brainstorm these things. But you need to start trying and testing different solutions, for a thorough and rounded approach. The service designer is your 'choreographer' to a business process that keeps customers and staff satisfied and coming back. We used to think that a brand was your words and pictures, now it's extended to your/their experience and how you and your people deliver it.