Design Thinking, Service Design

What is Service Design?


I have recently been part of conversations about Service Design. They tend to start with ‘what is Service Design?’ followed by ‘Well, let me tell you what Service Design is….’ I heard a number of different definitions, explanations and views.

We can debate what Service Design means to each of our companies (I have some pretty strong views as to what that is) but regardless of what our final attempt to define Service Design might be, there are some principles that need to be true, otherwise we would have really missed the mark… so:

1. Service Design is not about a product, it is about the areas, relationships, connections between and across products. Product Management is not Service Design. As I mentioned before, in Service Design, quality is a measure of how well all parts of a service work with each other.

2. Service Design is inherently multichannel. Digital is a huge part but not the only part. Service Design looks at experiences across touchpoints.

3. Service Design is user centred. It is not technology or enterprise centred. Both of these play a key part in delivering the service, but they need to follow the users, both those delivering and consuming the service.

4. Empathy, experimentation, integrative thinking (more showing possibilities than finding the one answer) and collaboration are central to Service Design. In applying Service Design we spend time going wide (diverging) before converging to a single idea. This is why some may find Service Design too ‘designy’

5. Good Service Design is transformative

Why ‘Design’ as opposed to ‘Architecture’? Because it borrows tools, methods and terminology from User Centre Design