IT management, MSP

There’s More To Service Design Than You Think You Know

TSA, America’s infamous airport security organization, made headlines last year when it placed the blame on passengers for long lines at airport security, claiming that individuals were at fault for showing up to checkpoints unprepared.

Any time an organization puts the onus back onto the user for not being able to properly navigate a service should raise a huge red flag.

Now if the TSA scenario doesn’t scream service design misalignment to an informed CX pro, then it’s important to clarify what we mean when we talk in terms in “service design.” By Forrester’s definition:

“Service design is a creative, collaborative process that draws from the tools of human-centered design to holistically improve and innovate new value for users as they move through sequential service interactions.”

As CX pros continue to build out their CX design tool kits, they will have an advantage if they can discern that service design allows them to:

  • Scale a human-centered mindset through processes and tools. Design-led organizations such as Apple, Tesla, Airbnb, and Slack won’t go to market with a new service until they carefully analyze and understand the impact it will have on customers as they move along the service journey.
  • Take the pulse of the broader CX ecosystem. The holistic, end-to-end nature of service design gives CX pros multiple opportunities to appraise the health of a broader user journey. Logically, process reengineering around the needs of the customer thus forms a critical component of service design.
  • Design end-to-end and back-to-front. Many organizations are heavily hero-dependent, relying on the skills and characters of a few standout employees to resolve customer issues that stem from deeper problems rooted in the organization. A key pillar of service design is that it looks at user journeys from end to end. But instead of looking at the customer’s front-end journey first and only, service design projects increasingly begin with back-end employee journeys.
  • Leverage existing resources with the help of a professional facilitator. Employees working in a company, especially those who have been around for a long time, know their internal CX ecosystem and the challenges better than any external service provider can ever hope to. However, they may lack the understanding of their neighboring department. Therefore, while the concepts and tools of service design are not complex, the process demands an expert level of facilitation to bring it all together.
  • Inform and validate the service experience with actual users. Co-creation is often misunderstood and can lead to misalignment with actual user expectations if the right participants are not involved. Service design projects require that the real end user of a service be included to inform and validate the interactions.

For specific recommendations and company examples supporting these benefits of service design, take a look at my recent research: “Five Things CX Pros Should Know About Service Design.”

Ryan Hart is principal analyst at Forrester Research, where he serves customer experience professionals. Read more Forrester blogs here.