I love well-designed services.

I bought a new camera because mine was lost and stolen this summer while traveling in Europe.  Among the features of the new camera is a setting to shoot in Adobe color format.  When I tried it and uploaded the photos to my Apple MacBook Pro, Adobe Photoshop and their Raw software automatically opened with my images inserted.  For me, that was great since I’m an incessant photo editor.  As for a service experience, it was deftly designed.

But it doesn’t always work that way. Along with the camera, were my iPhone and wallet inside, and replacing my primary credit card wasn’t exactly service-friendly. This bank’s branches no longer handle credit card replacements, so not only do I have to find a phone to make a call, it also requires receiving texts.  Since I had lost the iPhone in the whole mix, receiving texts was a non-starter.

As I put my head into my hands with frustration, it occurred to me that this bank, one with a service design department, had failed to call on service designers to create or improve what should be a straightforward, oft-used transaction.  I know because skilled service designers prevent gaps in services and understand the interconnections that must occur to satisfy user needs.  The service design discipline, after all, is about integrating components into a complete service experience.

What’s more with the bank vignette, customer service was irritated with me that I couldn’t receive their code so they wanted me to upload a photo of my license.  But the secure link they sent had a glitch on their side with the IT infrastructure.  So they said they would not process a new card.  Meantime, I suggested sending it over via fax, to which the customer service representative finally agreed.  I asked her, who titled herself supervisor over credit card replacements, to notify me when the fax is received.  She responded that confirmation was not possible because the fax goes to another department.  Additionally, she said, “it takes the other department a week to sift their faxes.”

Later on, I learned, that if she generated a case number, which she didn’t let me know about, would have helped reduce the 7-to-10 day waiting time for the privilege of using their card.

On the other hand, with Adobe, once the images were up, a message pops up: “Would you like to learn the best format to save your image?”  I thought sure, let’s see where this goes.  That link launches a browser page with a fact sheet about my new camera’s file-saving formats. It also creates a zip file with video instructions and sample files to use with the instruction. Gee, that was brilliant.

A planned service experience needs a seamless beginning, middle and satisfactory conclusion. But service designers know that.

Addendum: I don’t typically lose things, but in the first case, I was unaware that my family had stored my camera in the rental car, and with the iPhone/wallet, we were scrambling unexpectedly to jump off the train in a minute’s time, and consequently I left my iPhone behind.  Still, it was a wonderful trip.