Providing service is the act of helping or doing work for someone other than yourself. In society, we have services in place such as public transportation, communication platforms, utilities, law enforcement, and our government that strive to make people’s lives better. While these services are often beneficial to the greater good of society, there are circumstances where the process, output and customer service interaction can be improved. One of the ways of making improvements is a technique known as Service Design.
Service Design is the practice of making services better through research, ideation, and testing experiences. Services range from product based to intangible and from simple (online videos, car mechanics, and shopping) and complicated (staying at a hotel, mortgages, public transit) to highly complex (education, healthcare, and government services). Different industries require varying degrees of service design. The entertainment, consumer and hospitality industries are the kings of Service Design; everything they do is about providing the customer with the most enjoyable experience! In the military and government organizations where completing the mission for the cheapest price and in the least amount of time is the priority, service design is almost non-existent.
Every organization and company have different missions and produce different products. In order to accommodate this, service designers collaborate with many other disciplines while following these basic steps:
1. Communicate with the Stakeholders (employees, government officials, customers)
2. Identify the Project Goal(s)
3. Test and Evaluate Using Prototypes (mockups designed to interact directly with the people involved with that service)
4. Iterate and Repeat
5. Provide the Newly Designed Product/Plan to the Service
The process of collecting and applying skills, methods, and tools creates ways to better organizations’ interactions with their customers. There are certain services society provides that have a consistent and effective implementation of service design. One industry in the government that does this well is the highway and road service. Traffic lights, road directions, and speed limit notifications are all standardized within the United States, and generally make sense to drivers. When you compare the guidelines used by the road system to the steps outlined on effective service design, they follow the same general approach. The highway system communicates with its stakeholders to identify the end goal (safe and efficient roads for civilian vehicle travel), they iteratively test and evaluate various designs and enforcement protocols (red light cameras, color demarcations, shapes of road signs), and they deliver the newly designed service to the community (building/improving roadways and traffic infrastructure). For a tax-funded system, it is great to see the government approaching this service with (whether consciously or not) systems thinking.
When following this process which is founded on the relationship between the stakeholders and design team, it is likely that the end state will be more desirable, enjoyable, effective and efficient for those involved.
What is Service Design?
Designing for Service: Creating an Experience Advantage