What is Service Design?

During the early 1980s when tech products were coming into existence, the line between products and services was very distinct. Adobe was a digital product company trying to sell its software and FedEx was a service company offering express shipping. The customers were happy if the product was able to solve their problem. But, as the internet expanded, the world became closer, communication became easier and the business started incorporating user feedback. Now, the time was changing. The TV commercials and newspaper adverts were no more the only marketing means. Online communities were talking about the products they use, and the word of mouth became a rapid growth for digital products.

It was the age of the internet. Now, for product companies, just solving a problem wasn’t a delight for consumers, the customers desired something more, a great user experience. This gave rise to a new Design field that we know as User Experience (UX) Design.

With the rapid growth in internet technology, eventually, the customers became the king and it was not easy to lure them. Today, the line between a product and service is blur. Your customers are more informed than ever, they know about your competitors and buy after comprehensive research. Adobe is no more just a product company, they have become a service company which sells its monthly subscription just like your cable operators did in the ’90s.

“A service is that your customers use but do not own.”

The Blur line between service and product is giving rise to a new discipline of design called service design.
Today, a product standalone is nothing more than a tool to perform a particular task. What makes products viable is its services that are designed to resonate with the user’s expectation. It is impossible to treat product and services as two separate entities.
With the rising focus on creating a balance between the Product-Service ecosystem, still, a lot of stakeholders are confused. It is common for service providers to assume themselves as offering products. They often consider the product as their primary investment and service as their secondary, which is turning out fatal for their growth.

This brings to our basic quest for service design, What is Service Design?

Service design is a design thinking framework that works towards strengthening the product-service ecosystem. It is a holistic approach where product and service attributes are correlated to create a delightful consumer experience around a product. The principal objective of service design is to bridge the gap between the product and its services.

Let’s understand with the help of a cab aggregator example say, Uber.

Uber is more than just an app, In fact, its an ecosystem, consisting of a number of digital products with a complex infrastructure to support its services. They are handling a different set of users, whose customer experience is entirely different from each other. Travelling with Uber Pool will have an altogether different customer experience than booking a luxury sedan. I am sure these both user segments are equally valuable for the company, and they would not want to lose any of them.

However, if the company wants to retain both of these users then, they have to design different services for them. This effort is more than designing an app. Of course, The app is an essential touch point but the riding experience of the customer is beyond the control of the app.

What is the scope of a Service Design firm?  How it is different from product designers?

Often when we meet our prospects, they don’t know if their problem statement has to deal with the product UX or they need to work on their service design. Service and UX design have a lot of overlap in terms of the scope of work and hence often becomes confusing. Actually, product design is a subset of Service design.
Generally, the design problem that a UX designer tries to solve is confined to a product, or to individual touchpoint. Whereas Service design firms look at the problem from a wider perspective. They deal with multiple touch points to improve the overall customer gratification and sales.

Let’s understand this with our previous example of cab aggregator:
The service aspect of Uber consists of numerous touch points such as Uber’s business app, Uber’s Customers app, website, company’s ads, prepaid taxi stands and the Cab itself. A complex service like these can have hundreds of touchpoint out of which a UX designer is significantly focusing on a single touchpoint like an App or website.

Whereas the focus of service designer is the entire customer journey and how users move along the conversion funnel. Service designers see problems from a wider perspective, their job is to connect the dots between all the touchpoints and fix the customer pain points.

What does a service design company do?

A service design company essentially does everything which helps the business to strengthen their product- service ecosystem. Their main focus is to improve conversion by enhancing the overall customer experience around the product. These are few of the specific cases that we have handled at Ungrammary:

  • Creating extensive customer onboarding experiences at specific touchpoints both online and offline.
  • Designing a comprehensive communication framework that empathizes with the customer and resonates the product values
  • Crafting empathy maps and communication briefs across the conversion funnel.
  • Translating product features into vivid customer experiences.
  • Creating a framework which drives leads to purchase.
  • Improving customer experience at multiple touch points during a customer stage.
  • Conversion-focused Product design consultation
  • Incorporating branding and product positioning in customer experience design.

How service design company solves a problem?

Service design firms work closely with stakeholders and product managers to understand the business operations and customer journey of the product.
Once they understand the journey of a customer, they identify specific touchpoints which are responsible for customer pain points. Essentially there are three ways to identify the pain points:
1) Generate Customer feedback and reviews
2) Look for clues in analytics
3) Conduct customer interviews to understand their expectations

In order to solve these pain points, designers create a design thinking framework where they match product attributes to the customer experience and work towards improving the overall service.

If you Want to more to know more about service design, feel free to connect us or write to us at our website Ungrammary.

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