About Service Design
The Service Design Story
The practice of Service Design is shared by service designers globally, including most of Europe, where it took hold, to North and South America, Asia-Pacific (Australia and New Zealand), throughout Asia, including India, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and in Africa, where there are growing numbers of service designers in Nigeria and South Africa.
The concept may have originated in the U.S., but was nurtured in Europe, particularly Britain, Sweden, Germany
In 1983, G. Lynn Shostack, a bank and marketing manager and consultant, proposed that services should be designed to eliminate the many failures that result from trial and error. Products are designed, so why not services, she reasoned. and suggested documenting a service using a service blueprint. With a blueprint, the components of
A blueprint identifies service provider resources and functional handoffs necessary for the user to achieve a successful, intended outcome. It can be used to prototype
From when she published in the Harvard Business Revenue to eight years later, professors at Köln International School of Design (KISD) introduced service as a curriculum design discipline. More than ten years later, the Koln and other schools formed the Service Design Network, a membership association of academics and professional service designers. The founders were truly international, with support from Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S., Linköpings Universitet in Sweden, and the schools of Politecnico di Milano and Domus Academy in Italy.
From that point, service design began gaining advocates, and in 2002 two Danish Ministries—Business, Growth, and Employment, and Children and Education—formed an incubator or lab, called MindLab for adopting service design techniques to improve the delivery of government services. Designers at the lab introduced methods for rapid prototyping and testing, using an iterative approach such as Agile methodology. They also developed user research methods, ideation processes, and visualization and modeling—for government agencies to adopt for its public users.
Through their work, MindLab designers helped improve Copenhagen’s waste management system, improve social interactions between convicts and guards in prisons, and develop services for mentally disabled adults at an institution called Odense.
The innovations from MindLab inspired other governments around the world to create their own offices that would foster and promote better user-centric delivery of services.
Around the year 2008, the service design practice caught the attention of officials with the British government, who began exploring “user-driven public services” to deliver individual service experiences. British involvement boosted the little-known field and created greater value for the work of service designers.
It was in Britain where concepts evolved for soliciting feedback from service providers and users to continually improve services. Also, service design boutiques—agencies with service design expertise—appeared, offering a range of services to the public sector, healthcare sector, non-profits and corporate clients—taking them from ideation to design, prototyping, testing
With proven outcomes, European Union officials began looking to service design techniques as a way to ease the movement of populations across borders. It was a promise to member states to remove barriers to mobility, so workers could access jobs across Europe. The challenges among members
Back in the UK, the Cabinet created an office called Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), whose charge was improving government
The BIT concept, then migrated across the Atlantic Ocean into an idea adopted in the Obama administration, for an office with the identical mission, to operate under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Service design has been part of many novel user experiences across sectors. Besides many improvements to public infrastructure, the practice has also introduced patient journeys into healthcare to improve both the patient experience and the outcomes of care; and in Finland, at the Myyrmanni shopping mall in Vantaa, shopping experiences are integrated with the environment and spaces in ways that tie together mall spatial experiences with vendor products and services.
There are also various spinoffs to service design, including Servicescape, which is a practice for designing environments for service provider objectives, which requires
Finally, most, if not all of the global management consulting firms offer variations of service design, or service design techniques for solving its
ISDI, however, still considers Service Design a nascent field, whose greatest potential has yet to be demonstrated; and its future is flush with opportunities for service designers.
The Evolution of Service Design
Mass manufacturing leads industrialization
Ford, RCA, GE, Boeing, P&G, Sony
Global connections allow for distribution
Walmart, Toyota, UPS, CSX
Communications and internet technology
Microsoft, Apple, Google, Dell, Capital One
Empowered buyers demanding customer focus
Southwest Airlines, Amazon, Starbucks, Apple Retail, Uber
Services Need to Be Designed, Too
Successful services are measured by increased revenue, engaging and motivating new and existing users, and eliminating unnecessary resources. Success is also measured by achieving consistent satisfactory individual user experiences, which are positively memorable.
When services achieve this kind of success, a service designer is recognized and in demand by employers.