Service design is an innovative and emerging discipline. I am not referring it to the older definition in the manufacturing and hospitality industries. Today, almost every business is a service business. How service companies bring innovation to life depends first on their definition. Pure services cover a wide range and heterogeneous field ranging from low volume retailing to highly interactive digital interfaces. High volume, also technologically enabled activities like telecommunications, utilities, banking and insurance.
An example would be ING, trying to define what a virtual bank would look like was not a simple task for ING DIRECT. How do you get wary consumers who expect vaults and teller cages to trust a virtual bank? The key is to design for the mind and senses. Today’s businesses need to consider their emotional relationship with their customers as a key component of their value proposition. Designing a compelling customer experience enables this relationship. ING DIRECT sells a unique (and super simple) range of product sand engages the customer in a unique way, creating the opportunity for a trust engagement as well as, ultimately, customer acquisition. There were so many customer barriers to overcome and address.
Another example is LG. They make and sell appliances. Now you can drag your dirty laundry over to the hip Canal St Martin neighborhood to wash it at the LG WashBar. The concept is unique: buy a drink at the bar and get free access to the upstairs “apartment” where you can do your laundry—washing powder comes free too!—browse books from the library, watch movies, and check your e-mails at the two free wireless hotspots. It’s a great place to hang out. The feel is cosy minimalist design meeting a high-tech appliance aesthetic. There’s even a dance floor downstairs for DJ nights. Fresh clothes and Saturday night dance...sound good to me. The plan is to open up 15 across France.
So how does service innovation happen? It begins with gathering insights including goals and paths, prototyping the working experience and evidencing, next is service blueprinting. It all comes down to three things: Creating compelling user benefits, optimize based on the separability of the service nature and making sensible automation/human trade-offs.
Develop Compelling User Benefits.
Understand what type of benefit/value a service innovation can provide.
Is this innovation an important core benefit or a new way of delivering
an existing benefit? Examples: Cirque du Soleil (new core benefit),
Netflix mail order DVD rental (new benefit), Blockbuster's self-destruct
DVD in 48 hours (new benefit), Ford's latest use of radar-based active
safety technology linked to satellite (new benefit).
Optimize based the separability of the service. Is this innovation for a service that is produced and consumed simultaneously? Examples: Telemedicine (create separable services), Blackberry (mostly inseparable services), Enterprise Car Rental (create inseparable services) or iTunes (create inseparable services).
Model the service economics and making trade-offs. Customers are expensive. Dealing with them cost money. Putting them through a speech recognition application to offload calls save money but lower the quality of the experience. Each year, call centers implement new technologies that can take over the functions previously handled by people. Why then are customers so unhappy, if we expect call centers to implement technology that will make customers happy and provide them faster service? Simple, because technology does not equal quality customer service.
Take Nintendo Wii as an example, GlucoBoy, a game compatible with the
Game Boy Advance or DS Lite, was launched in Australia on World
Diabetes Day. The Glucoboy makes monitoring and achieving blood sugar
goals fun. Whenever a user performs a glucose test, points are awarded
which allows the user to unlock games. More points are awarded if the
user’s blood sugar falls within the specified goals. The points may be
spent in the game or the GRIP online community. Users post their scores
to the GRIP community to see who has the best scores in a town,
country, and world. Nintendo has plenty of opportunities to create new
benefits (and revenue) through service designs.
The Nintendo idea was created by Paul Wessel who noticed that his 9-year-old son would constantly lose his glucose monitor but not his gameboy. Mr. Wessel states “That moment Five years ago design was about the creation of beautiful and usable objects. Human has a similar project using service design when they pioneer the use of games for health industry. The idea is to create ways for people of all ages to improve their health and well being through the use of video game technology. Expect to see more service design innovation when healthcare and gaming crossover.
Today, it is additionally and increasingly thought to be a valid approach to problems related to, well, anything - be it global warming, poor transportation or social issues. What differentiates the designers’ way to solve societal problems from that of other professionals’? The essence of design still lies in the quest for aesthetic, functional as well as sensorial experiences that appeal to and help societies. To design is to make the problem-solving a matter of the heart as much as rationality. While engineers can make banks efficient, designers can make customers happy. Efficiency and happiness are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately many businesses today act as if they are. They will be surprised who service designers can change that.