Do you know when you get to your hotel room and find the end of the toilet paper folded into a triangle shape? And when you’re waiting in line at a restaurant, and you can enjoy an aperitif while listening to a pianist that calms the atmosphere? These are examples of some simple precautions (which are very pleasing) taken by companies that have already understood the importance of the so-called Service Design – or service design, in Portuguese.
As its name suggests, Service Design is widely used for the development of services and aims to give the consumer the best possible experience. Its elementary characteristic is to put – always – people first. Thus, understanding people’s needs and desires are fundamental to putting this tool into practice. The idea is to ensure that all services and products offered are in line with what the people who will consume them need and would like to receive.
This logic may seem obvious, but many companies/people end up being too closed in on their internal processes and forget that other people are at the end of this relationship. Those who pay attention to what others need (without just trying to push a product or an idea) are at the forefront of the consumer preference list. In fierce competition scenarios, these small details can bring credibility and acceptance to your project.
How did it come about? One of the first works related to Service Design was by G. Lynn Shostack, an American top banking executive and philanthropist. In 1984 she wrote the text “Designing Services That Deliver”, published in the Harvard Business Review, in which she explained about service blueprint (a graphical visualization tool that maps the processes and specifies all the functionality of a service). At that time, Service Design was considered part of the management and marketing disciplines.
In 1991, Service Design officially became a discipline through a project by Michael Erlhoff, professor at KISD (Köln International School of Design) in Germany. In 2001, Livework was created in London, the first innovation and service design consultancy that, since 2010, also operates in Brazil.
What is it for? To meet people’s real needs, it is necessary to have an attentive and detailed look at the entire process of delivering your product. And this involves realizing and improving every detail that can bring pleasure and being attentive to customer satisfaction – or whoever will receive your project. By understanding this, you will begin to observe the entire path carefully you must take to your goal, which actors are involved, and you will be able to empirically identify the flaws that are making people dissatisfied with your final product.
In the world of product and service development, the tool for mapping the user experience is called Customer Journey. Here’s an example of this journey for Starbucks consumers:
Now, here are some day-to-day practices of companies that care about service design: investing in after-sales improvement (SACs, tools to receive feedback, etc.); interacting with the target audience (holding festive events, distributing free product samples, end-of-year gifts, etc.); make it clear to your audience that you (or your product) have improved in the face of feedback (Example: “This new payment option was a suggestion by So-and-so, who could not afford the costs at the beginning of the month”); improve the services offered in the call centre hired by your company; etc.
From these practices, insights and actions emerge that, when adopted, make all the difference. Think, for example, of the free Wi-Fi, plush armchairs and sofas you find in a Starbucks store. In front of another coffee shop next door that sold the same coffee for the same price, these details would determine your decision, right?
In the race! As much as, at first, the tool seems to make sense only in the business context of creating or improving service, it can also be very useful in one’s career and in many other situations of daily professional life. Remember: the central idea is to offer – always – the best experience, not letting the details go unnoticed. For example, if you’re going to present an important project at a meeting, make sure you’re on time, make sure the projector is working properly, the slides are well-edited, and the air conditioning hasn’t stopped working. If you’re going to have an important customer, make sure you have coffee to offer them, pick them up and walk them to the door… And so on.
Here are some questions that will help you reflect on whether you have been applying Service Design in your daily life:
- Are you concerned about what people really need?
- Do you know every detail and person involved in the project you are leading?
- Do you try to talk to people to get feedback, or are you already satisfied that they bought your idea/product?
- When you receive criticism, do you try to work on improving it with your team, or do you think that other people complain too much?
- Do you make yourself available to your team members to answer questions about what they are doing?
- Is the well-being of others present in each of the stages of your internal processes?
Also Read: KPI: What And How To Measure?