Service Design for CX: Generating Value for Everyone Involved

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A true customer experience is wholly inclusive of the design, implementation, and management of all interactions and processes that occur across an end-to-end customer journey. In simpler terms, Forrester defines the discipline of CX as, “How customers perceive interactions with your company.” They further divide this definition into three necessary and intuitive considerations. For any given customer interaction or service delivery to be considered a 'good,' it must be “useful (deliver value), usable (make it easy to find and engage with the value), and enjoyable (emotionally engaging so that people want to use them).”

While customer experience puts the customer at the center of design implementation and management, service design takes this human-centered approach a step further. It takes a granular, sequential look into the complete experience design process that creates a delightful, end-to-end experience across customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, etc.

Service design can be considered as “everything and everyone that touches upon the delivery of a service.” Essentially, this approach makes user-centered design everybody’s responsibility.

Designing truly intangible experiences

In addition to all of the customer-facing touchpoints associated with a given experience, service design focuses on the back-end processes, or the behind-the-scenes, intangible customer interactions that enable such a seamless physical and digital service delivery on the front end.

Service design is that truly unexplainable sentiment makes a customer not only want to come back again, but want to tell all their friends about how great their experience was as well. How your customers perceive any interaction with your company is not solely based on those customer-facing touchpoints. It also inherently includes those seamlessly integrated systems that they don’t necessarily see: those intangible experiences and unexplainable moments that, for lack of a better word, get them “hooked” on your brand.

For a more concrete example of service design at work, take a look at this article on Fjord’s “A Tale of Two Coffee Shops” scenario, detailing the key differentiators between a company that utilizes human-centered service design to its advantage, and another that does not.

Remaining disruptive in the ‘age of the customer’

So why is service design so important anyway? According to Forrester, we have now entered a new business era best referred to as the ‘age of the customer,’ or “a time when focus on the customer matters more than any other strategic imperative. Service design provides a toolset and framework that enable companies to truly understand their customers and engage with them in meaningful ways – ultimately driving profits, cost savings, and competitive differentiation.”

This alignment of digital and physical interactions with back end systems and technology ultimately creates one unified, engaging experience. Service design represents a coherence in vision and the recognition of all individuals involved in the delivery of a given service, beyond just the customer.

Keep in mind: without good service design, overall customer experience will suffer. To ensure 'good' service design, it’s important to remember that consumer needs and demands are continuously changing. The deeper into this customer-centric era we go, the more important constant iterations of CX and service design becomes. This continuous change is critical in order to ensure your company will keep disrupting within its respective industry.