Who owns service design?

August 23, 2023
Jess Sherratt

With more organisations increasingly recognising the role of service design in shaping and delivering better customer experiences, a key question that faces them is who is responsible for owning service design and driving programmes internally. So, with that in mind, who owns service design? 

That's the question we asked in a recent survey to 1,000 change and transformation leaders across the UK - and the results were surprising.

Let's dive into the research to uncover the key insights, challenges, and what this means for service design ownership today.

Ownership in service design: A defining aspect

The findings paint a revealing picture of service design ownership within organisations, with only 5% of 1,000 survey respondents claiming to have a dedicated service design owner. This starkly illustrates the need for more explicit roles and responsibilities within service design. 

Roles and titles

Even among those organisations with designated positions, the numbers remain relatively low. The most prominent roles associated with service design ownership include the Lead of Customer Experience (CX), at 12%, followed by the Lead of IT, at almost 11%

This also suggests a lack of uniformity in recognising who should be at the helm of service design initiatives.

The case for service design education

These findings underscore the need for organisations to identify service design owners and equip them with the skills and expertise to effectively lead or champion service design within their respective disciplines. 

Service design is not just a title; it's a skill set that requires a deep understanding of customer needs and a holistic approach to improving services.

Breaking down silos 

Interestingly, the research highlights that service design primarily happens within product teams and often within sprint cycles. While this approach focuses on user journeys, it can create challenges when integrating service design holistically across different business areas. 

A multidisciplinary approach may be more sustainable, drawing upon diverse skills and expertise.

Empowering change

In summary, this highlights that service design should be a process and a team effort, and emphasises the need for organisations to define clear roles and responsibilities for service design ownership. Relying on a single role to shoulder the entire service design process may not be sustainable or practical. 

Equally important is cultivating service design expertise, ensuring that those entrusted with ownership are equipped to lead the way, and possess the knowledge and skills to drive meaningful change.

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

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