Service experiences typically involve multiple services that make up an entire, complete service. One way to think about this concept: services are a sum of its parts. And, complex services are a sum of distinct services. Others would describe it as a service system of interconnected services. It’s a useful concept. Service designers can think about this in terms of a bolt-on strategy — adding separate, functioning services to expand capability and reach. In that case, service designers figure out how to bolt the two services together.

To break this down, look to, say, airline travel.

Traveling to and from a destination at least involves:
(a) a ticket (reservation booking service)
(b) counter check-in service
(c) luggage drop off service
(d) a security service
(e) gate-boarding service
(f) inflight service
(g) deplaning-transportation connection service

Each of these services function independently and connect to one another along the users’ journey. They are indeed differentiated services and are mostly operated by different service providers. They also qualify as services since they must involve process, people and technology; and most importantly they require designing around the user, with a a front stage (user interface) and a backstage (operations). Therefore these services require designing to succeed as being user-centric. And, in order to improve them, likewise, involve user satisfaction measurements.

However, service designers who ask for passengers to rate their satisfaction with the entire journey experience are not likely to gather meaningful results. This illustration depicts some of the services involved in air travel, showing a complicated interconnection of how a service can be the sum of many other services.



With so many parts of a service, it can be challenging to determine where to focus attention. Identifying and evaluating an organization’s operations, resources responsibilities, and priorities leads to a stronger understanding of the individual components — not just how they work together, but also where they’re falling short and where the holes in the service are occurring. To improve user satisfaction, the Service Assessment Model™ is needed.


Defining Your Focus Using the Service Assessment Model™

We present the Service Assessment Model™, which helps designers identify the functions of a service, and examines and scores them to find where to focus attention.

It’s based on three key steps:

Step 1: Separate the service into a) oversight — governance and policy; b) management and execution—day-to-day operations; and c) administrative.

Step 2: Review Responsibilities. The organization chart depicts the functions of our sample for Management and Execution office. It includes responsibility for supervising the Administration of the service. For illustration purposes, a staff director is depicted as a leader of the office. Services will have different hierarchy with relevant, responsible positions. Using SAM, each function is reviewed using the method in Step 3. Note: Administration is treated as its own office, with its own functions and organization chart and won’t be included in the next step.

Step 3: Scoring: Scores 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) are awarded to each activity along the matrixed vertical axis aligned to each columns. Scores are tallied from left to right and entered into an overall ‘total’ at far right. Low total scores should receive priority attention. While the focus here is on the certification exam, each program and activity should be assessed similarly—for internal and external factors.

Learn more about the Service Assessment Model™ in The Master online course.

Services only stay relevant by continuing to meet user’s needs and expectations, even as trends come and go and technology advances.Service improvements on this order require the skills of a service design master — an individual who takes the service design practice to the most accomplished level. The qualities of a master include continually learning, seeking opportunities to learn and grow professionally, on a constant quest for an ideal that is certain to be around the next bend. He or she is also capable of exhibiting a lighter side while instinctively knowing what to take seriously. These qualities are presented in the tone and feel of The Master online course.

Upon completing the course, the master will be knowledgeable about:

  • The power of data — acquiring valuable user feedback and turning the raw data into meaningful narrations.
  • Principles for creating compelling visual narrations to communicate the need for service improvements to executive leadership and to working teams.
  • The purpose and use of service prototypes to test service designs.
  • The means to measure user’s experiences for aligning services to user’s needs and expectations.
  • Methods for diagnosing failing services
  • When, if and how to attempt recovering a failed service experience

Service design masters are leaders in their organizations, valuable consultants, and serious-minded entrepreneurs.

Available Courses

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The Apprentice
Learn what makes a service successful. The Apprentice introduces service design, the role of a service designer, some of the popular tools, and includes ideation models for coming up with new services. Click here to sign up »

The Journeyman
Learn how to use an Influence Model, a Journey Map, a Blueprint and Touchpoints — the common tools of service design. The Journeyman includes sequential, step-by-step instructions along with case studies. Click here to sign up »

The Master
Learn to prototype a service, work with feedback, diagnose service problems, recover services and test and measure user satisfaction. The Master is the only service design course of its type that helps service designers take their designs and completed services to greater success. Click here to sign up »