6 tips for getting started with service design

October 11, 2023
Colin Preston

With customers now more connected, informed, and empowered than ever, service design continues to gain significant prominence as organisations recognise the need to deliver exceptional customer experiences. 

And for good reason: customer-centric businesses are up to 60% more profitable than companies that don't focus on customers.

But understanding, navigating, and implementing effective service design programmes isn't always plain sailing. 

So, if you're looking to get started with service design, here are six tips to consider. 

1. Define service design clearly

The first step is to clearly and concisely define what it entails. Our independent research of 1,000 change and transformation leaders across the UK found that 38% couldn't define service design. Of the 62% who provided a description, only 3% matched our definition. 

"Service design is a human-centred approach that aims to improve services across multiple touchpoints, taking into account the end user and the organisation's people, technology, and processes."

Although there is not one prominent definition of service design in the industry, clearly articulating a definition that resonates within your organisation can help gain traction and ensure everyone understands its value.

2. Use business language

It's essential to communicate the benefits of service design in business terms to garner buy-in from stakeholders. 

Emphasise how adopting a human-centred approach can positively impact the bottom line. For instance, improved customer satisfaction leads to increased customer loyalty, which, in turn, translates into higher revenue and profitability.

3. Measure effectively

Measuring the impact of service design is crucial for demonstrating its value.

Focus on internal and customer-centric metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your initiatives. Internal metrics include efficiency gains, reduced operational costs, and employee satisfaction. In contrast, customer metrics encompass user satisfaction scores, net promoter scores (NPS), and customer retention rates. 

Tracking these metrics allows you to supercharge the changes you wish to make and showcase tangible results.

4. Timing is everything

When initiating change initiatives through service design, it's essential to consider the timing. Don't limit yourself to product development cycles. Instead, allocate the appropriate amount of time to observe the impact of your changes. 

Service design often requires holistic transformations, and rushing through them may lead to suboptimal results. Take the time to ensure that the changes you implement align with your long-term strategic goals.

5. Create ownership

Establish ownership of the entire service to ensure the success of your service design efforts. This can be achieved by forming a dedicated team or a small group of specialists responsible for overseeing the design and improvement of the service. 

Having a team with a clear mandate and expertise in service design ensures that the task feels manageable and that there is accountability for the outcomes.

6. Experiment! 

Service design doesn't have to be a massive undertaking. Break down your service changes into smaller, manageable experiments. This approach allows you to demonstrate the impact of your initiatives quickly and make necessary adjustments along the way. 

By starting small and iterating based on feedback and data, you can build a strong case for the value of service design within your organisation.

. . .

By defining service design clearly, using business language to gain buy-in, measuring effectively, considering timing, creating ownership, and breaking changes into experiments, you can pave the way for a successful service design journey.

You can read plenty more insights from our independent survey in Navigating Success in Service Design.

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