Your business vision and strategy trickle right down to the details of the products and services you offer. Making value flow into the hearts and minds of your users, lights up the touch.
Designing a service entails wiring the pieces to work together in integration, delivering value individually and as a whole. Organisations invest focus and attention in the management of individual pieces, e.g., singular touch points like the store, digital platform, the mobile app, frequently tweaking them to be bigger, faster, cheaper, often loosing sight of how that results in the touch of the whole.
Components of Service Design
Let's look at the how usual components of,
People - anyone who creates or uses the service,
Props - physical or digital channels, including products
Processes - workflows,
play out in a public transportation system.
In the journey of a city commuter (people), for instance, understand - where would he buy a ticket from (channel props)? When do your storefront, website, or vending machine (product props) feature? What is the interaction like with each of those channels? At the airport, would a tourist have to download an app while juggling his bags? What about accessibility like language and internet? How does a ticket from a vending machine work with the mobile app, and how are each validated (processes)? What skills and tools will employees in your organisation need, to deliver on the commuter’s expectations (people, props, products)?
The complex world of public transport services have earned some European cities a star in the hall-of-shame for spectacularly badly designed systems. Service design has to take into consideration the planing and organising of resources as well as changing market needs and behaviour, to directly improve the employee experience, in order to indirectly improve the customer’s experience. Rare show-case examples like the Opal card in Sydney are proof that careful consideration of each individual component result in a well thought out, seamless commuter experience.
Going from Blue to Green
In order to re-design, re-think an existing service to create something new, like the Opal Card, start with a good understanding and exploration of the users involved. Take the finance industry - wouldn’t it be relevant to explore how consumer behaviour of young adults in urban environments is shifting from ownership to sharing models? What will the trends of car-sharing, apartment sharing, equipment sharing mean for the finance industry? Financial products built to enable ownership aren’t applicable to a market increasingly moving away from the need to possess, more towards the momentary purpose of an object. New products and services will have to be conceived. Offering this market base the same blue services of the past two decades in green, is bound to fare poorly. Singular goals of internal efficiencies, completing a task in 2 steps instead of 5, can mean considerable effort and time in product development and yet have little impact on business and users.
Going from Blue to Tree
Einstein said, to seek different results, you have to try different approaches. Tearing down structures and processes of the past, however, and replacing them with new approaches of value is challenging, causing crippling in-action instead. Radical change is driven very well by breaking away from fixed notions of what you stand for, why your services are needed and how to deliver them. Questioning the status quo for its sustainability into the future - going from blue to tree!
Take the world of personalised consumer finance services. Personal experience. i.e., the face-to-face, in-branch experience is paramount - it is what leads to everything else, at least so the industry widely believes. The break down of those components would be a list such as,
People - General banker, Specialist banker, Customer
Props - Branch office, Financial products, pricing systems
Process - Policies, workflows, contract and approvals
Here too, start with understanding the user. Have you ever asked someone for money? Do you recall how it felt? Asking for money can be a deeply emotional and stressful experience. Figuring out how much you need, for how long, what you can afford to pay back or when. Put yourself in the shoes of the young adult jogging two jobs, while paying-off a student loan and rent on the side. What, for such a user, would qualify as an individual, personalised experience? With that knowledge and understanding, what if you go back to the list of components and deconstruct, reassemble the world of your service as you know it. Do it systematically, applying proven methods of re-assembly like SCAMPER. Challenge core beliefs, components you and your organisation see as essential. Dare yourselves to eliminate them! What good could come out of it? What if the branch or even the financial product itself was eliminated? What other value could the remaining resources provide to the young adult customer? Perhaps personalised on-line financial advice?
A ‘consultancy-as-a-service’? Would that tap right into an overlooked opportunity gap of changing market needs and a lack of professional guidance? How could you re-design the individual components of your service system to deliver on this new value? Could this be a transitionary business model or a business model for the future? The rush of new ideas and inspiration are suddenly un-stoppable! Systematically approaching the challenge for something new, in this manner makes it as easy as child’s play to follow on Einstein’s advice!
Industries like finance and insurance are gearing up to re-define a sometimes tarnished reputation and re-invent themselves. Adopting such structured methods could help break them away from set moulds faster, speeding up the radical innovation, systematically.
Careful understanding of the user, disciplined questioning and re-assembling of your service resources, and an integrated t design between the components, can create a whole new touch - where the magic sparks!