Most of us are not happy with our public utility services provided by Governments, but we are also not happy with the banking or insurance or hotel or airline or railway or telecom services. Many a times poor services are the reason for our frustration, but also of our changing of service providers.
Imagine an iPhone with poor functionality and some functionality even are even are not working. IPhone is a product, its manufacturers are known for superior customer experience and therefore what they design is for better customer experience, be it product design or service design at Apple stores.
When a customer buys a product it can inspect the product about quality and flaws. No such possibility exists when a customer buys a service which many a times is going to be utilised on a future date. We buy Insurance product or an airline ticket – its actual availment comes later than the date of purchase. We don’t know what quality of actual service we will get. Services are invisible, so it has to be deliberately designed like a product in order to get the desired result it is expected to serve.
User Experience is a new phenomenon when websites came into play. Customer Experience came into play when the book The Experience Economy was published. Service Design, though, is a relatively latest in the lot but used without nomenclature for ages. Any service be it banking, insurance, public utility services, railway, airlines, transport and communication everything is service design. Whether it is deliberately designed or not. It includes a gamut of services we use and experience around us.
In the experience economy, User Experience and Service Design are critical parts of customer experience an enterprise offers to its customers or a government offers to its citizen. Service Design is defined as:
Service design is a form of conceptual design which involves the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service providers and customers.
Long queues are a bad design, huge traffic on the road is a bad design, any human inconvenience caused by enterprises and governments are examples of bad design.
Yes, we all are the victims of bad design by our service providers.
When the share of the service industry is on the rise, this discipline of service design is going to grow and used more extensively by all the service providers.
Recently I joined a FREE online course of Human Centered Design (HCD) conducted by NOVOED course designed in collaboration with IDEO, a firm pioneer in service design. They define HCD as;
Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem-solving. It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs. Human-centered design is all about building a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for; generating tons of ideas; building a bunch of prototypes; sharing what you’ve made with the people you’re designing for; and eventually putting your innovative new solution out in the world.
This new science can be effectively used by for-profit and not for profit social enterprises. For profit enterprises are and will use it to better their customer experience. This they will be compelled to do in this sharing economy.
Insurance company Gjensidige, Norway has redesigned the customer experience with an extreme customer orientation by using the concepts of service design.
NHS (Ealing PCT), United Kingdom is working with the help of service design principles to reduce patient cost and the need for personal consultation
Entercard, Credit card provider Entercard wanted to know how to engage with customers to encourage them to use their cards more. Looking at card usage from the customer perspective, we defined a new customer engagement strategy.
This new science is effective and now extensively used by Governments to better citizen experience. All Govt – Citizen interaction is about service delivery. If the Govt is alert and sensitive about the concerns of their citizen application of Service Design principles can not only better existing services but many unresolved problems can be solved. These problems society is faced with are known as wicked problems.
There is a book called Wicked Problems, Problems Worth Solving by Austin Center for Design i.e. AC4D. The author defines Wicked Problems as:
A wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve for as many as four reasons: incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the large economic burden, and the interconnected nature of these problems with other problems. Poverty is linked with education, nutrition with poverty, the economy with nutrition, and so on.
What are these Smart Cards for Mumbai local commuters? This is service design thinking in action. Avoid long queues for customers and advance revenue for the railway. Win-win solution for both.
One of the African countries is using service design approach in tackling the spread of Aids.
Chicago library is using design thinking to transform into learning labs.
Design thinking is helping US Govt to become more humane.
The Business Registration and Licensing division within Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED) worked with the leading service design consultant for assistance to overhaul its customer service.
There are enterprises that are using design thinking approach to double country’s middle class i.e. lifting the people from poverty. (Just look at their problem statement!)
All Governments across the world is doing enormous investments in public infrastructure, healthcare, education and everything else. Imagine if the Government employs a team of design thinkers and practitioners what a miracle it can create with the resources in command.
What Roger Martin is a professor at and former dean of the Rotman School of Management, says in the interview Capitalism needs design thinking is interesting and applicable universally:
I don’t see it taking hold much. I think the way that government generally works is to think, think, think, think, and then finally create legislation that brings about some change, and then they ignore their legislation and say okay, we’re finished with that. Then people go and figure out how to game that legislation, and the government doesn’t do anything about it. Whereas if they had a design view of it, they’d say when they passed a bill, that’s just the best idea we’ve got now, we have to go see how it works in practice, and then fix it. That’s just not the mentality.
The meaning of the word Design, what we used to believe as some form of an art is expanded beyond art galleries. This art of design thinking is now influencing our lives, customer experience, citizen experience & can help us resolve many problems and tackle many challenges.
Next time we will see HOW of Service Design and HOW we all can become Service Designers.
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