Cathy Wang (@cathycracks) is a designer that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting virtually (hard to pin her down — she’s from Vancouver, lives in Milan, travels a whole lot). She works in the field of Service Design in the real world. As UX Designers, we should pay attention, because this is something that can greatly expand your influence. Read on.
Have you tried explaining to people what you do as a User Experience Designer?
Now try to imagine what you would have to say if you were a Service Designer. People have often asked me what I mean when I say “I design services.”
If you are in an agency or consultancy environment, you might categorise service design as part of user experience and/or experience strategy. If you come from a product environment, service design might vibrate more to what you consider as product management and business design.
In a nut shell, service design is delivering a designed experience onto different levels of actors with a more holistic approach in mind. Let me elaborate on that.
Design for touchpoints, not just people.
Service design is about designing for the intangible and connected touchpoints between all the involving actors and factors. Each one of these actors and factors is considered a service touchpoint.
Who are the actors?
Services are made by people, delivered by people, served to people.
An actor can range from who enables the service, to the person whom the service is delivered to. When designing a service, you need to consider more than just the end-users:
- How are the people enabling the service involved?
- Who will be carrying out the service?
- Does the organisational structure need to be revised to support the new service?
- Who will be receiving the service?
The customer service person in a store or on the other end of the phone line is an actor in the service ecosystem. It is part of customer experience; when designing a service, we should be looking at how this person provides the service. Designing a good service should give the same emotional delight for the receiver as well as the person giving the service.
Hey, giving should feel as good as receiving right?
What are the factors?
When designing an interface or software, requirements and specifications come from the technical restriction and feature sets. When designing a service, the requirements often follow the use case flows with forks formed by different actors and overall organisational structure.
The factors build up the components of the service. Designing a service means everything in the service cycle is taken into account. We are designing more than the normal technology interfaces that we encounter. There are business processes, organizational process, physical interaction and sometimes even marketing strategies to be taken into account.
When you call your telecom provider to get support. Many components of the service come together to successfully enable the service provided to you. The backend system, the auto authentication system, the call assignment system etc. It’s important to design overlooking all the involving systems as a whole even when you are just designing one of the systems.
Is it really different from User Experience Design?
Yes and No.
As a UX designer, you are probably asking yourself: Why am I not doing that?
As a product manager, you might be asking yourself: I thought I do all this all day already.
The real question to ask might be: How can I integrate this into my work more?
We are creating more businesses opportunities
Being a UX designer, your passionate designer heart might say: “I want to make the world a better place one web page at a time.” But really, the ultimate goal in our business-oriented world, is to create more business (in most situations). Added values like enhanced user experience and easier processes basically contribute to more business, either in the short run or the long run. (If you are the lucky few that gets to design only for wellness, kudos.)
Designers, it’s ok to be business oriented. It pays the bills at the end of the day.
How to create more opportunities?
Don’t look at a business as just one rigid structure with a one-dimensional lens. The revenue of the business and the core business offerings might be more than what meets the eye. Ask these questions:
- How Can I connect this service with other services / third-party services to create a better service eco-system? Product eco-system?
- What are some new components that can be added to the service for it to serve end-users better?
- How can the service be carried out in a more efficient way?
Study the full service journey, from the organisational structure to user journeys. Know all the points where the service reach. Be open to alternatives, it doesn’t have to be a solution that relies only on design. (or even design services that your agency don’t normally do.)
Zoom out, and look around.
We are always on the same team. Product managers are not your enemies. Don’t put the invisible “evil client” hat on your client. You are designing a design solution that’s fitted to your client. We, as designers, design for people. Clients are people too.
Approaching the client knowing that you are on the same team. You are a consultant that is dropped into someone else’s product/service cycle to help them achieve something. Do your job. Help them achieve what they can’t achieve in-house. (This of course applies to consultancy designers.) Don’t just design the window frame, open a new door for them.
Why should you care?
There are many gaps that companies need help on but don’t know where to look. (In agency talk: there is a pile of money left on the floor that no one is picking up.)
When I was asked “What kind of agency do you want to work in?” I answered: “I want to work at a place that aims to take away a big chunk of Accenture’s business in the next 5 years.” I am not saying that UX designers should become consultant alligators. (big mouth, big teeth, short arms). The convergence of strategy and design is the way the industry is heading. Design thinking is applied in all spectra of industries and job functions. UX designers need to step up to fill the gap.
But really, the true reason behind doing so is to better help solve the problems. As designers, we solve problems. Now we just need to step up and look at a bigger realm.