When you interact with any given product or service, you might find that a lot of attention to detail has been paid to the visual design of the product or the marketing, but the service itself is lacking.
Maybe you bought the product thinking “I suppose this will do” rather than “wow, this is what I’ve been looking for”. Maybe the setup is confusing, or you have to keep repeating simple information to different customer service reps.
No company sets out to build a horrible customer experience. So why is bad service so common across so many sectors?
This is what happens when companies don’t consider service design. In this guide, we look at what service design is and the steps you’d follow in your own service design process.
What is Service Design?
Service design is the process of organizing a company’s resources to improve customer experience. This includes the business’ infrastructure, employees, and communication methods. It focuses on optimizing internal processes to deliver the best possible service to the customer.
Service design looks at how all the different parts of a service – customers, marketing material, sales staff, products, business processes, and communications – interconnect to deliver a great service. It does this by focusing on user experience, whether the user is the customer or the employee trying to help them with something.
The customer’s journey starts the first time they hear about you or your product: what do they hear? What expectations does this set? And it continues for as long as they’re still your customer. Post-purchase interactions are especially important to service designers, as one bad customer service experience could lose valuable business.
That’s why it’s crucial to partner with the best ecommerce website development company that not only understands the significance of seamless post-purchase interactions but also delivers exceptional services to ensure customer satisfaction and retention.
How do you make online shopping faster and more enjoyable? First of all, you need a flexible, advanced, and innovative platform by your side. If we’re talking Magento ecommerce development, your website should provide an exceptional and engaging experience to online visitors and be a place where they will feel valued and recognized. That’s how it works.
With Magento, you can guide your business effortlessly through the market and even outperform your competitors without the hassle. Yes, meeting the ever-changing demands of modern buyers can be really hard; however, you can choose the right experts who fully understand how to build a user-friendly resource and blend the latest tech innovations with a customized approach.
Additionally, service design takes into account the evolving needs and expectations of customers, adapting the service accordingly to provide ongoing value and meet changing demands.
By focusing on service design and partnering with a reputable ecommerce website development company, businesses can create a customer-centric approach that fosters loyalty, positive word-of-mouth, and sustainable growth in a competitive market.
Service design is most visible in the customer-facing parts of the business, but can add value everywhere. Generally, it can be broken into three main areas:
- “Front stage” – this is everything the customer sees: from the initial landing page to the online checkout or the sales process. It also covers everything the customer does. At every point in their journey, the customer wants to achieve some specific goal, and service design is all about making that as easy and enjoyable as possible;
- “Backstage” – the customer can’t see this, but there’s a lot here that can improve their experience. That could be anything from HubSpot CRM integrations that enrich your customer data, to a more user-friendly business phone system. If you make it easier for support teams to access information on the customer they’re talking to, that improves the interaction between the customer and your team;
- “Phone system” – Consider the role of a phone system in your service design. A well-structured phone system can streamline customer service, making it easier for customers to reach the right department or individual. It can also improve internal communication, making your service more efficient. Remember, every touchpoint, including phone interactions, contributes to the overall customer experience;
- Getting virtual phone numbers can become a game-changing solution for any company or business. No matter big or small. Think about having your very own local (or international) number but without the need to install any landlines. Sounds great, right?;
- Your clients will feel like you’re always there for them (even if, in fact, you’re not), as they will be able to reach out to you without any problems! You can manage everything only and easily keep up and adapt to arising changes or needs. All in all, you can make things much more convenient while sticking to a professional approach;
- “Behind the scenes” – this is all the policies and business processes that make the service possible. Some are internal, such as a unique approach to onboarding and developing staff, while other aspects are external. For instance, regulations like GDPR regulate how the business can and can’t use customer data, and those are constraints the service designer has to keep in view at all times.
The service designer works up and down this “stack” to help the company rethink the way it offers its services. Often, this involves facilitating discussions between the team about what the customer’s goals are, what pain points they’ve noticed, and how new tools and processes can improve the experience.
In the private sector, this is often about responding to the ever-changing expectations of customers. In an established company, good service is vital to increasing customer retention. In a startup or scale-up, it’s vital to the process of building a new brand and setting yourself apart from incumbents. When a company achieves massive scale, it’s easy to lose touch with the finer points of the customer experience.
And that’s why service design is also increasingly vital to the public sector. Governments need to offer services on a massive scale, and a good digital experience can save huge amounts of admin work. If one page of an online tax return is confusing, that could mean thousands of people phone the office to confirm something in the same month.
Service design can bring the smooth experience of SaaS apps to complex bureaucracies, and the personal touch of boutique shopping to massive retail chains. These improvements make customers’ lives a little easier and deliver lots of value to the companies that put it at the heart of everything they do.
In the intricate web of modern service design, the business phone emerges as a linchpin for responsive customer interactions. Whether within the private sector, where retaining clientele hinges on immediate assistance, or within the public sector, where streamlined digital experiences alleviate administrative burdens, the business phone plays a pivotal role.
Its ability to bridge the gap between personalized touch and efficient scalability makes it an indispensable tool, seamlessly weaving the complexity of service design into the fabric of everyday operations.
Grasping the critical necessity of embedding a strong self-service customer support infrastructure into each venture is essential. This approach enhances interactions for both the enterprise and its clientele, providing a streamlined and expedited process for resolving inquiries.
By instituting such a system, user convenience is significantly improved, ensuring that customer inquiries are managed with speed and proficiency.
Service design vs user experience
You might be wondering what the difference between service design and user experience (UX) is at this point. UX design is the practice of (re)designing a product by centering the needs of users. It involves deeply researching how the end-user interacts with a product, from the first contact to final conversion.
UX design overlaps with service design in a few ways:
- Both involve working together with users and other stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the product from other perspectives.
- Both can involve establishing user personas, then mapping out user journeys with the product.
- Design is iterative, and both practices will use techniques like rapid prototyping and A/B testing to refine on initial ideas.
But UX and service design have some key differences:
- UX delivers new and improved interfaces, while the deliverable in service design might be a plan of action for several departments
- UX is often closely aligned with software development teams, whereas a service design process might not include most of the tech team.
Think about this analogy: imagine the role of an ecommerce website development company when it’s crafting an online shopping platform. Their task is to foresee the entire customer expedition, from the initial page landing to the final checkout. Having functional components isn’t sufficient in itself; these elements must integrate smoothly and be instinctively understandable for the end user.
However, for UX design to work properly, it is worth finding a quality and reliable developer. It is important to realize that a proper and high-quality application requires long and painstaking work. After all, not only the interface of the application but also its functional component depends on it.
Alternative ways to understand service design
It can be hard to get to grips with service design because it’s such a broad field. Don’t worry – there are a few points of reference that can be used as an introduction to the topic.
The object-of-design approach
For product designers, it might be useful to think of the service as a kind of product. This means they can apply similar principles and practices. Apple built a “prototype” Apple Store in a warehouse so they could try out different arrangements of products and furniture, similar to the model prototyping of devices they were doing in the studio. This kind of thinking might also give UI/UX designers a “way in” by expanding their remit beyond the website they might have already been working on.
UI/UX pros can resort to the concept of “computer mockups“. Just as product managers use prototypes, these mockups serve as digital models. In this way, you can easily explore different UI layouts and functionalities before you go about implementing them. Here we have a nifty and modern approach to expanding the scope of UI/UX beyond sites.
The value-drive approach
Another way to approach service design is in terms of financial return. Arguably, this is a limited way to think about it: there’s more to a good brand than how much its logo increases the price of a commodity.
But service design should have a good ROI, and a focus on financial value gives you a clear KPI to track. It’s easy to say you’ve improved your PPC contract template if you’re seeing more profit due to increased conversions, or less time spent explaining it to new clients.
By looking at service design through a financial lens, you can identify areas of inefficiency, customer dissatisfaction, and opportunities for cost savings that pass value back to the customer. On a small scale, it’s easy to measure how much money a self-serve customer support process is saving you. But big-picture, service design is all about giving customers every reason to stay with your company and become a sincere brand evangelist.
The process-oriented approach
Service design also can be looked at as a step-by-step process. That’s the framing we’ll use for the rest of this article. Thinking of service design as a specific process gives people something more concrete to think about than a “methodology”. As with any business process, it can be written down, refined, and repeated whenever necessary. This makes the process-oriented approach a great way to introduce service design into an organization.
The service design process and methodology
Having chosen the process-oriented approach to service design, here’s a simple method you can introduce to any company to bring user-centered design into all parts of the business.
There are so many metrics by which a service could be judged to be “better”. This is why it’s important to start the service design process by making sure everyone is clear on the most important goals and KPIs. This usually takes the form of a workshop where the service designer and relevant stakeholders will ask questions like:
- What KPIs will measure our success?
- What’s the one specific problem we’re trying to solve?
- Who are the top three users, employees, and other stakeholders involved in this service?
Once goals are established, the service designer can gather user insights with tactics like user interviews, customer surveys, “user shadowing”, and more quantitative methods like heat mapping. While quantitative data is great for testing hypotheses, qualitative methods like interviews are more likely to surface new problems that the company wasn’t aware of before.
The collected data is then collated into customer personas: fictional aggregates representing hundreds, maybe thousands of customers. They can give the whole team a simple tool to think about their customer base.
It also gives the designer a place to start mapping user journeys. By tying analytics to personas, the designer can ask questions like “Emma is a working mother trying to find out why her device’s battery might be failing. It’s late in the evening and she’s tired, how quickly can she navigate our customer service portal?”
Journeys can start anywhere, but should all involve a conversion at some point. Whether it’s booking a sales demo or buying from an ecommerce store, it’s useful to frame your whole customer journey around this conversion. What will help this user make a conversion? What doubts or concerns might they have? How can you make the conversion feel good for this user?
Just remember, conversion isn’t the end of the journey. Make sure to include post-purchase events like parcel-tracking or onboarding emails in your user journeys. The first time someone receives and then uses your product is the make-or-break moment for your brand. It’s critical that service designers apply a critical eye to as much of the customer lifecycle as they can.
To grasp customer satisfaction contentment post-adoption of your app, it’s crucial. Upholding exemplary standards demands regular assessment of your support team’s efficacy. This process guarantees swift and accurate communication of user insights to you. Adopting this approach markedly contributes to maintaining and elevating the user experience linked to your application.
Image sourced from openlawlab.com
Now that everyone knows what the problems are and who they’re trying to solve them for, it’s time to come up with solutions. This can be a simple brainstorming session between the service designer, in-house designers and developers, as well as other key stakeholders.
Everyone should have enough data in front of them that their ideas are well-informed and focussed on specific problems with the existing service. Concerns like budget, time, and expected ROI should dictate which ideas are put in place.
A service architecture plan covers everything the company needs to deliver a service. Now that the best ideas have risen to the top, it’s time to figure out how they’ll be put in place.
Designers might draw up a plan for the currently-existing service to map out inefficiencies, and use this in the ideation stage to help identify solutions. Perhaps a smaller checkout system, as carried by the staff at an Apple Store, might enable more personal interaction with the customer. In a B2B context, maybe integrating a PDF compressor system into the company will help exchange documents with customers across unpredictable systems.
In the dynamic world of service architecture, the role of product managers is essential. They act as the key conductors, transforming creative concepts from mere plans to actual, functioning elements.
Their responsibility is to make sure that each aspect of the service adheres to the larger strategic vision. By meticulously planning and implementing these ideas, they bring these innovations to life, significantly improving the customer experience.
A service architecture plan will map out whatever resources are necessary across the “front stage” and behind-the-scenes, and link it to key points in the customer journey you’re trying to create. Once these resources have been identified, they can be put in place across the whole business.
Testing and troubleshooting
In any field of design, it’s rare to get things right the first time. When a new part of the service is first implemented, it should often be a kind of “minimum viable product” which doesn’t take much investment to establish.
Once it’s up and running, you’ll likely run into unexpected issues that can be easily addressed. This is how many startups iterate their way to product-market fit, and you can use it whether your “market” is your customers or a team within the company. As with the user research stage, this can take the form of user interviews or techniques like A/B testing.
The value of service design
Your company’s “service” covers everything from technical infrastructure to the way your sales team is talking to different customers.
Good service designers, and the process they’ll follow, give companies a structured way to think about how customers feel while interacting with the business, and show them how to make it an even better experience for everyone. This helps companies feel better about what they’re doing, win more conversions, and build a stronger brand in the process.