80% of companies believed that they delivered their customers excellent value and a superior digital service experience, according to a survey by Bain & Company*. Only 8% of their customers agreed. Over a decade later, the gap between these views has stayed the same in many organisations. Service Design methodology can help you to shift the balance and create digital services which truly add value to your customers and employees.
There is pressure especially towards internal services in organisations. Consumer services continuously develop and become more user-friendly but internal services, the ones all of us use at the workplace, are often still left behind. As a result, internal users grapple with inconvenient systems, complicated processes, and incomprehensible communication.
So, how do you bring services to the expected level? A product- or service-based worldview can no longer keep up with the changing needs of users, whether they are your customers or your employees. Instead, digital services must be seen as a whole, from the viewpoints of business objectives, users, and delivery. User experience has become a prominent battlefield of competitiveness, differentiation, and growth. At the same time, services must be profitable and efficiently produced.
Service design offers a new way of creating and improving services. The core of service design is an understanding of the user, an engaging way of developing the customer journey and processes, and agile experimentation. Essentially, service design is customer-centred business development. That is why we should – and must – engage in service design.
1. Break down false conceptions of customers
Here is a typical story of understanding users in service design: Company X designs and releases a new digital service. Soon after release, analytics show that the service is not used as much as they hoped. Based on feedback, the service is made more user-friendly. Still, it is not used. What is the problem? The service is not even remotely meeting the needs of its users, the customers. The development team has failed to properly understand the everyday life of the user and the problems that the service is intended to solve. How did this happen?
Too many organisations operate based on outdated customer conceptions or worse, pure assumptions. If users are the last item on your priority list, your organisation can never achieve the business benefits you are looking for in producing services. The user is not responsible for knowing how to use services the right way, not even when they are one of your own employees using internal services.
Service design starts with understanding people and their needs. Examining the user helps us to see the reality of the customer and eliminate false, even delusional, views. This is true with both customers and internal users.
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2. Use Service Design to break down organisational silos
Responsibility for any service as a whole often falls on noman’s land, if it is split between different departments: the marketing department answers for service sales, data administration and suppliers answer for background systems, and business functions answer for the service itself. For the user, the result is chaos.
Service design methods bring user experience and service integration to the centre of the design. These methods shift the attention from local optimisation to comprehensive examination. Genuine understanding and commitment emerge when various departments engage in developing services, and the customer journey is made more concrete. A service design professional helps to question the predominant assumptions, prioritise functionalities, break down overlaps, and simplify the service.
3. Find the balance between different requirements
Digital services can make life easier in many ways for customers and internal users. Both can be offered clear and automated service packages through various self-service channels, for example. However, methodical design is needed to make use of automation and self-service. Service design methodologies help in balancing the value gained from services and the time and energy required from the user.
In order to deliver service effectively, it is necessary to determine which factors in the service are critical for the user, and when it is best to focus on smooth and cost-effective background processes. Service design steers the users’ actions in a direction where profitable service production is possible.
Service design systematically looks for a healthy balance between the different requirements. This maximises the user’s service experience in a way that is also profitable to the business.
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*Survey source: Bain & Company, 2005, Closing the delivery gap, By James Allen, Frederick F. Reichheld, Barney Hamilton, and Rob Markey