During recent years, service design has become a hot topic within the service management industry. Here’s how your business can use service design to create best-in-class customer experiences.
We are surrounded by services on a daily basis. Whether we are getting a new summer haircut, borrowing books from the local library, booking our holiday or getting our dinner served in our favorite restaurant – service is at the very center of it all. We have been interacting with various forms of services for centuries. However, during recent years and due to the rise of new technologies, our ways of consuming services have changed.
While checks, phone, mail, and branches were the only ways we interacted with banking services just a few years back, today we interact with banking services across multiple touchpoints such as mobile and web banking, ATMs, debit cards, texting, online meetings and even social media. Therefore, creating great customer experiences and managing consumer touchpoints across channels is getting much more complex – and it is exactly in that space service design tools and thinking can be most valuable.
What is service design?
Basically, service design is focused on the overall service experience as well as the design of the process and strategy to provide the service. It focuses on innovating services across multiple touchpoints such as the initial contact, the process of engagement and the post-consumption experience.
In order to do so service designers identify the key points of interaction a customer has with an organization, analyzes the feelings and motivations of the customers during each of these touchpoints and then designs a service that can complement and support the mutual customer and service provider interaction.
The service designer identifies gaps and points in the customer experience that are disconnected. Think of a plane ride. Service employees can do everything they can do deliver excellent service and take care of you during the flight, but if the couple next to you struggle with their crying baby during the whole flight, your overall experience might not be one to remember in a positive way. Even though a crying baby is an unknown factor in this case, service designers consider and work to avoid or minimize the negative effect of these situations.
How to create best-in-class customer experiences with service design
With the core concepts of service design being introduced, it is important to examine how service design can be used to create best-in class customer experiences. This necessitates introducing one of the primary tools of the service design process: The service blueprint.
Simply explained, the service blueprint is a diagram that allows designers to look beyond the product and examine the systems that bring a customer’s experience to life. Compared to customer journey mapping, which primarily is focused on the customer’s front stage experiences, service blueprinting also focuses on exposing the behind-the-scenes of the business and thus how the company operates internally. This behind-the-scene view is then tied to the front-stage customer mapping to create a 3600 overview of the entire service.
Thereby the service blueprint seeks to uncover how the support structures beneath every customer journey work, the responsibilities of internal actors, the system that supports the service creation as well as the policies that dictate what can and what can not be accomplished.
To combine both the customer journey as well as the internal work processes there are at least 3 requirements as to how a service blueprint should be build:
- Line of interaction: This represents the touchpoint at which customers and the service provider interact
- Line of visibility: The customer can not see the actions and processes beyond this line
- The line of internal interaction: Represents the partner interactions necessary to produce and deliver the service
You can build as much complexity as needed into your blueprint. This depends on the type of service and the complexity of it but also the level of service design optimization you are working with. For example, if the goal is to quickly understand a particular customer experience and propose small design changes, high altitude diagrams are the most helpful. On the other hand, if the case is to innovate and redesign the entire customer experience across multiple touchpoints, a low altitude map that details both the internal and external processes are necessary.
Due to the increased complexity in the service landscape, service design is an important practice to create best-in-class and consistent customer experiences. Journey mapping and service blueprinting both account for critical methods to understand the experience your organization creates as well as identify ways to create meaningful improvements to both the internal processes and the customer experiences.
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