Service designers work across all economic sectors, signaling the widespread use of service design skills and knowledge, according to results of a recent survey of 222 service designers from around the world.

Designers said many executives desire the techniques and outcomes from service design but don’t necessarily recognize them as associated with the field of service design. And despite an increase in service design jobs, the overall lack of recognition of service design tends to harm the credibility of the field and prevent some designers from moving into executive seats.

“Companies need chief experience officers,” wrote one respondent.  “When that occurs service design will get a noticeable boost.”  And another wrote, “Companies are hiring service designers but they are not titling their roles as a service designer, even though that’s the work they are doing.”

Service designers are working across every service sector and fairly evenly distributed among them. The largest segments are technology services, consumer-oriented services, and healthcare services.  Within the “other” category are human resources, retail, telecommunications, and real estate.

Sectors employing service designers

Sectors employing service designers. Source: International Service Design Institute. All Rights Reserved.

It also turns out that a plurality of service designers are employed in-house, directly for a business or organization. In other words, these organizations seek the benefits of service design for growth or optimization.  The popularity of the next largest category, management consulting, reflects that most every global management consulting firm nowadays has incorporated whole departments, or divisions, that spin out service design-related services for clients.

Who service designers work for.

Source: International Service Design Institute. All Rights Reserved.

The majority of service designers have earned advanced service design degrees. Others became acquainted with service design by working in other, related fields and then made a switch.  Some respondents, however, said they learned the skills by studying service design books, taking online courses and attending workshops. Few said they were mentored on the job by others, which would seem to underscore that employers are seeking service design prepared candidates.

Service design preparation.

Source: International Service Design Institute. All Rights Reserved.

When asked which skills are most important in their jobs – functioning as service designers – an even number of respondents said soft skills, such as communications, the ability to relate to others, and holistic thinking.  And many others said research and analysis was critical, along with the ability to develop process and implement methodologies.

Skills service designers say are helpful in the role.

Source: International Service Design Institute. All Rights Reserved.

If you are interested in more survey results, check here!

Meantime, to acquire skills for a career in service design, be sure to check out our books and online courses.

ISDI is a professional development organization focused on Service Design learning.  We offer a three-part series of online courses that begin with The Apprentice, covering the fundamentals of Service Design and the knowledge to begin putting Service Design techniques into practice.