Service designers who responded to an ISDI Service Design 2022 Survey told researchers at the International Service Design Institute (ISDI) that they find their work challenging and exhilarating. Respondents indicated where they work and for whom, and the skills and background required to be successful service designers.  These and other insights offer a more complete picture of how service design is practiced.  The ISDI, an e-learning organization for training service designers, conducts periodic surveys for insights to include in our training.

First off, to be clear, Service Design is a non-aesthetic design practice that helps service providers offer users a benefit.  Implementing the profession’s user-centric tools and techniques, a service designer can create services that achieve more predictable, successful outcomes.  The tools and techniques, often used in combination, guide service designers toward creating new services and addressing concerns or challenges with existing ones. 

Meantime, a successful service ‘satisfies’ the needs of users by realizing a desired outcome through a reliable service experience.  Another term for a service experience is a service journey.

A Growing Field

By all accounts, there are increasing numbers of service designers, which may be due to emerging opportunities for meaningful work, though it’s an uncertain exercise gauging how many service designers there really are – and also identifying who is a service designer. One piece of evidence – there are increasing numbers of those on LinkedIn who classify themselves as ‘service designers.’  By way of benchmarking, in 2018, when we began ISDI, the number was around 200,000 worldwide.  Lately, the number is close to 6 million.

Service Designers – Involved in Global Challenges

We hear of a number of reasons for professionals becoming service designers.  Among them, service designers can find themselves working side-by-side with engineers, planners, and civic leaders to solve some of the most pressing challenges.  We have discovered service designers in healthcare who are involved in the revolution in care by helping shift from treatment that occurs after-the-fact, to preventive car based on genetics and other indicators.

There are also service designers involved with resiliency, planning, and in some cases preventing, disasters caused by climate change.  Resiliency in the face of climate change refers to installing measures to protect residents and speeding recovery in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Service designers are also working to improve mobility in the face of population growth and people migration.  Typical projects include figuring out how to integrate disparate transportation systems (bus, rail, auto, and air travel) for seamless passenger journeys.

In addition, service designers are helping design and improve smart cities, central metropolitan areas where residents live among business establishments supported by intelligent infrastructure. The benefits include higher standards of living, better safety, cleanliness, and efficiency, all while accommodating projected urban growth.








The Skills of a Service Designer

Our survey asked respondents how they became service designers and what skills are most valuable.  There were many answers, but we decided to group them together and assign the top 10.

  1. Empathy
  2. Systems thinking
  3. Problem-solving
  4. Qualitative research and analysis skills
  5. Communications/presentations
  6. Possess a big picture, holistic, viewpoint
  7. Superb facilitation skills
  8. Business understanding
  9. Active listening
  10. Innate curiosity

While these are the skills service designers use in their jobs, they also serve as criteria employers use.  For the most part, they are all qualities of an individual, some of which can be learned.  But service designers also need hard skills to know which tools and techniques to use and how to implement them.  That is one of the benefits of ISDI service design training.

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