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Service Design – Why you can’t ignore it?

Service Design – Why you can’t ignore it?

We all know the premium designers products command in the market. As far as services are concerned most service providers are not designing the service.

Services are about customer services. For new age businesses customer service is the core service. It does not come into play once the goods are sold and when the problem crops up. Be it banking, insurance, healthcare or hotels or any other services, their core business is customer service.

Unlike products which are designed in factories and sold in stores, services are not designed but it is made available as and when the customer demands. & therefore SERVICE DESIGN is a very important part of all the services but it is not only ignored, but most providers have no clue about this new discipline.

Usually, services are not proactively designed and that brings subjectivity in the service delivery. The subjectivity of the person delivering it, the subjectivity of place of delivery affects the experience customer receives. For example, in the healthcare system studies suggest, heart attack victims more likely to die if admitted to hospital at the weekend. However, every medicine, which is a manufactured product, would perform the same way the whole day, every day. It is the service of medical professionals which are hampered on weekends.

Usually, services are not proactively designed and that brings subjectivity in the service delivery. The subjectivity of the person delivering it, the subjectivity of place of delivery affects the experience customer receives. For example, in the healthcare system studies suggest, heart attack victims more likely to die if admitted to hospital at the weekend. However, every medicine, which is a manufactured product, would perform the same way the whole day, every day. It is the service of medical professionals which are hampered on weekends.

Every service offering company has to have services designed. These companies have SOPs but SOPs are STANDARD and customers are not standard. SOPs are designed for organisation’s point of view and efficiency. Service Design is design principles which take customers’ requirement into consideration while designing the services. Service Design is human-cantered while SOPs are product and organisation focussed.

“It is because many services are almost invisible that nobody takes care to design them.” Andy Polaine, Lavrans Løvlie, and Ben Reason in their book Service Design.

Customer Experience (CX) is now in vogue but in most organisations the subject is vaguely understood. “Me too” is the mindset. Thought little, but in some of the organisations which are taking the lead in CX are also taking the lead only in measurements of CX with scorecard like NPS but not in designing the experience. Forrester recently surveyed 100 customer experience professionals and found that only 15% consistently follow a defined customer experience design process when they create new interactions or improve existing ones.

In the age of customer experience and sharing economy where social media is widespread, Service Design is a new and powerful approach for the service organisation to do their business with customers.

Kerry Bodine , ex Forrester CX Professional wrote;,
We’ve entered a new business era that Forrester calls the age of the customer — a time when focus on the customer matters more than any other strategic imperative. Service design provides a toolset and framework that enable companies to truly understand their customers and engage with them in meaningful ways — ultimately driving profits, cost savings, and competitive differentiation.

Service Design is about designing each of the touch points of the organisation which customer interacts with. Customer Journey Maps are the foundation, based on which services can be effectively designed.

When a customer enters the hotel for check in or when a patient is admitted in an emergency department of the hospital or a customer is in the bank to withdraw cash, at each of such instances which parts of the organisation are triggered and comes into action?

It is not the front end staffs which are exposed, but the entire check in, admission and cash withdrawal services are in action and therefore exposed. How these services are designed or not designed will decide the fate of the customer experience and kind of interaction the customer will have with the front end staff.

In most of the cases,there is no end to end design of the services and that is why customer irritation takes place.

• Long queues
• Irresponsive & indifferent employee behaviour
• No replies to resolve our queries
• Call holding for long and hearing recorded message
• Scripted call center response
• Standard answer to our emails
• No confirmation of booking or order
• Doctors communication style with patients’ and their relatives
• Not acting on our instructions
• Heavy traffic
• Not providing adequate information in advance

The customer irritation list is endless. This list can be shortened and perhaps eliminated with the service design approach by the service companies. Service industry in India is booming and now has a share of 52% of GDP. This is likely to grow in the years to come. However, the growth of service sector without service designers is going to create more irritation among the customers, more of red ocean markets.

The world over Service Design is getting the attention of the trendsetting companies. Mayo Clinic has its own design practice, Capital One bank has acquired design agency Adaptive Path, IBM is building its own design studio. However, the service design is not the discipline for large organisations. Like a product design is necessary for every product manufacturing company, a service design is going to be a necessity for every service provider company.

Governments are the largest service providers to the citizen. UK Govt is focused on the principles of service design and they have service design standards for Govt services.

Designers’ services are what we need now and the future belongs to the companies which invest in Service Design to create better customer experiences. Manufacturing mindset will not work in the new service economy.

Are you sure services your company is offering will be delivered to the customer to create desired experience every time?

Sunil Gandhi
Sunil Gandhi

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