Talking about "service design" or "experience design..forget Disney or Club Med, the Belgian chain Le Pain Quotidien (Our Daily Bread) is one best example of great experience design. Currently there are stores in California, DC and NYC. Toronto is opening one soon. My friend Scott is obsessed with it. I love the communal table and everything is organic there (I teased the people by asking them all the time if the tea is organic). The chain now has more than 80 stores in 12 countries and it is still growing. "17 years ago, Alain Coumont was putting a large communal table in his shop and the people sat down around it.” This is how Harry De Landtsheer recounts the original idea of the founder of Le Pain Quotidien. The baker’s plus restaurant is still there in the Rue Dansaert in Brussels. The basic idea of eating good food together has not changed either. So the combined shops and restaurants have plain furniture made of pine; the metal or glass lamps are simple and the shelving for bread and bakery goods are old style. With classical music in the background, this makes a Starbucks experience like the food court of a second tier shopping mall.
Now we're on the topic of "service and experience design". What is service design? Particularly those that is delivered through a digital interface or through a peer-to-peer network. It requires a very different approach from traditional operations management and the economics is very different. Service is becoming a key part of any customer experiences. Many still find the concept a little abstract. Little attention is paid to service innovation or seeing services as structure.
Film director Howard Hawks once said that to make a great movie all you need are three great scenes and no bad scenes. Ok three great scenes, now look at your company's customer experience and see if you can identify three great ones. It’s a pretty simple formula for success. I first came across this quote from Jeff Howard who is a designer and writes a lot on service design. We need more designers who think service or even experience. My friend Mark Ury will like this analogy.
Let’s try to look at service design through the same lens? Imagine each service encounter is composed of touchpoints. (I hate to use the word touchpints as it is so overused by old school CRM folks) This is one of the most misleading terms in business and I think the concept itself is flawed. I usually look at those under 1/ data point 2/ dialogue point 3/ feedback point. Anyway, let’s use that for now. The question is whether it is enough to create three great touchpoints and no bad touchpoints? Or how many great touhpoints make up for one bad touchpoint?
Let's think of a few parallels. One is music. You bought a CD and the first two songs set the impression of the album. Another parallel from the world of book writing, the first twenty pages were the most important as it was written to attract the readers and they usually consists of the most interesting concept. If you come to a bad chapter, you would then consider whether to read on, despite the opening is so great. In fact, most books fall short of excitement when it comes to the ending. Other parallel includes retailing, open that Tiffany's blue box, untie the ribbons and then the little blue bag before you see what's in there.
The traditional distinctions between products and services are beginning to blur. Traditionally, a product was physical and discrete, somewhat tangible, something obviously demarcated in space and time. The designer's brief rarely encompassed more than the form of an object, and there's a well defined usage. But with Web 2.0 and ubiquitous networking and the open standards it gives rise to, all is changing fast: no longer can the designer of any product assume that it will stand on its own, autonomous and serenely uninvolved with the others. A product has become a node connecting to other both from a data and social perspectives.
London Business School released a paper on Innovation in “Experiential Services “with some great examples that bridge service design and experience design. The research references about 100 case studies from companies like Royal Caribbean, Virgin Atlantic, American Girl Stores, (picture above) the Apple Retail Stores, Build-A-Bear Workshops, Joie de Vivre Hotels as well as European examples from YO! Sushi, first direct, the Eden project, the Guinness Storehouse (picture below) in Dublin and Die Glaserne Manufaktur (the Transparent Factory) of Volkswagen in Dresden. There are some interesting insights.
Here's how they explore the metaphor of “the service journey”:
A customer experience is built over an extended period of time, starting before the actual sales experience or transaction to include pre and post purchase experiences; The journey consists of numerous touchpoints between the customer and the organization or the brand; these touchpoints need to be carefully designed and managed; Each touchpoint has a potential for innovation.
The question remain:
You can design a service but you cannot design an experience. Service designers can only stage or create favorable conditions for great customer experiences to happen. If the customer contributes to the “experience”, how do we co-create these experiences with them? Stop using the word “service designer”, call them “experience architect” or “experiences co-creator”.
Have a great weekend.