“A Tale of Two Coffee Shops”

Add bookmark


Service Design. Product Design. Design Systems. Experience Design. Design Ops. The terms seem endless. Where's the differentiation?

Fjord has worked to create an applicable, simple way to distinguish the meaning of Service Design in people’s day-to-day lives, utilizing the relatable example of two coffee shops.

The scenario opens up with two identical coffee shops located next to each other. Each sell the same coffee and products for the same prices. The situation claims that Service Design encompasses the main reason or reasons why you, or any individual, would choose to walk into, and continue to walk into, one of these coffee shops over the other.

A customer-first mentality

In an effort to enhance customer experience and engagement, both coffee shops consider creating an app for its consumers. “Coffee shop A” hires a team of people to create the app, and subsequently launch the finished product to its customers. The problem here is that this first team did not work off of consumer data, analytics, or insights when creating their product. Because of this, the app provides little to no benefit to the individuals using it.

Similarly, “Coffee shop B” creates an app as well. Unlike Coffee shop A, this process begins and remains rooted in customer research and the end-to-end journey from before the customer gets their coffee, until after they’ve finished their cup. Through this intensive exploration of the customer journey, the app development team is able to identify where customer pain points exist, and how the app can act as a solution.

Taking it a step further, Coffee shop B’s development team speaks to different departments within the business to gain a clearer understanding for what their routines look like, and how that day-to-day work might affect the everyday customer. Whether its workers in the physical store, the marketing team, or suppliers, these teams can collaboratively work together and identify real issues and achievable objectives, and then test potential solutions with the customer at the heart of each decision.

Harmonizing the experience: from front to backstage

Now that Coffee shop B has done its research on its consumers and their end-to-end experience, and collaborated with people within the business, the situation furthers, explaining that they’ve identified an issue with the physical experience in the store as well. This reveals a need for employee training and development, and a reorganization of the store itself. From this, they conclude that the app must help with flow of traffic, and in an effort to ease this through in-app payment, the business’s payment system must be updated to correspond seamlessly with the app.

These are all considered frontstage experiences, or experiences that the user continually sees and interacts with (e.g. the physical store, employees, payment, and all other features the app provides). However, in order for everything to harmonize in a seamless way at the front end, all backstage systems, like employee training, payment systems, etc., must be in place to drive these services toward a successful overall experience. This is the essence of service design.

“Service design is not just what makes you walk into one coffee shop and not the other, it’s the reason you keep coming back and tell all your friends about it”

Fjord’s scenario emphasizes the three central components to service design, which focuses on:

  1. Customer-centricity – putting the customer first when making every decision is not just at the center of service design, but the design thinking methodology entirely. We saw Coffee shop B thrive in this area through its exhaustive research, which uncovered a plethora of services opportunities to optimize both at the front end and back end.
  2. Co-creation – collaboration is key. Designing services that enhance the overall customer and experience, while maintaining the goals and objectives of the entire business, is most efficiently completed through collaboration.
  3. Holistic experiences – creating brand loyalty and engagement can be successfully achieved only through implementing service design approaches on the back end to achieve a more seamless, holistic customer experience on the front end.

RECOMMENDED