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Service design implementation (Guide part 4)

June 17, 2021

When it comes to implementing service design, the first step many organizations take is often to run training programs for their team. Even though such workshop-style training is great to raise awareness of the topic and give a good overview of different tools and methods, it often remains hard for participants to apply the learnings in their day-to-day work. In this article, we will share some lessons learned on how to successfully bring service design into an organization so that it can be used to supplement and enhance existing ways of working.

Editor’s note: This article is based on our white paper “Ten tips on how to embed service design in organizations”.  For more details on the topic, download the full white paper.

We will cover the following topics:

  1. What does a service designer do?
  2. Five tips on how to embed service design in an organization

What does a service designer do?

Service design is about facilitation. Being able to run a successful service design workshop means helping and assisting other people in dealing with a process, or reaching an agreement or a solution - and all that without getting directly involved in the process or discussion. So, if a service design process or workshop feels like a natural flow, it's most likely because the facilitator did a terrific job.

However, service design is not just about facilitating workshops. The role of the service designer is dynamic and multi-functional, often requiring the designer to shift seamlessly between different activities such as interviewing customers, analyzing data and prototyping service delivery improvements.  

Throughout a service design project, service designers are required to organize and coordinate the input from a variety of different stakeholders, whether this is building a design team from different departments within an organization, engaging with subject matter experts, facilitating workshops or arranging interviews with customers. By fostering relationships and collaboration, service designers create the conditions for sustainable and effective service improvements that are grounded in customer experience and have cross-department support.

During research activities, service designers drive engagement with customers in order to form a solid understanding of their lived experience. Using various tools and approaches, the design team analyses this experience data in order to extract valuable insights about where service delivery can be improved to help customers.

Taking these insights, service designers work with the design team to generate creative solutions for how the organization might address customer pain points and areas where they need more help.

Service designers will quickly take these ideas for prototyping and testing, using low budget methods in order to see whether generated ideas will be desirable to customers and the business, technically feasible and viable now and in the future.  

But service designers also assist and promote the implementation of new designs within the organization and measure whether projects have the intended impact or need to be revised. This can be done with a wide range of tools such as blueprints, which help to orchestrate how new service delivery methods will be managed and successfully implemented.

Five tips on how to embed service design in an organization

Service design has become an increasingly popular way of working over the last decade. However, applying service design in an organization or project is not always a yes/no decision. Often, teams start by using only a few tools or methods in an initial  project. They learn how to adapt the process and language to their own organizational culture. Over time, and often after several projects, more and more people in an organization build up competence through workshops, masterclasses, jams, conferences, talks, and so on.

Here are some of our tips on how to embed service design in your organization.

Tip #1: Call it what you want

It does not matter what you call it, there are so many different terms for what we call service design. The important thing is how you do it, not how you call it. First do, then explain what you did when folks are interested because it worked.

Tip #2: Start small

You will first need to learn how you can practice service design within your organization. Start small and give yourself room to fail.

Tip #3: Start with your employees

Often, the easiest and most promising way to bring service design into an organization is not through customer experience, but through employee experience.

Tip #4: Adapt service design to your organization

Try to adapt expert language, processes, tools and methods to what would be best suited and understood within your organization and existing ways of working. Choose practical, clear language that everyone in your organization will be able to relate to.

Tip #5: 95% of service design is not a workshop

To avoid the perception that service design is all workshops and fluff, find ways to show the work your service design team is doing behind the scenes. The wider project team and outsiders are not aware of all the work that is happening backstage. Create evidence for work done behind the scenes in order to help others within your organization gain an understanding of the process and the work that needs to be put into this.

yellow and white background with black text: 10 tips on how to embed service design in organizations

Download our white paper to find more detailed descriptions and the ten tips on how to embed service design in your organization.

If successful, service design enables organizations to define a common language and approach that allows teams from different departments, regions or countries to communicate at eye-level. Adopting a shared way of working and a collective toolbox allows disperse and diverse teams to work together efficiently. In the end, organizations that experience the benefits of service design strive to embed its tools, approaches and mindsets in their DNA, affecting their entire corporate culture.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has since been updated for accuracy.

How to embed service design in your organization