The Scale of Service Design

As we introduce ourselves to new colleagues and potential clients, we are constantly reflecting on how we describe the work we do. How do we get people from zero to 60, understanding what we mean by service design and what that means for them or their organisation?

service design model

The heart of service design is looking at the customer experience and the organisational experience necessary for delivering it. We are charged with improving things that are existing or innovating and creating new value where it previously did not exist. We may do that at one of three scales:

Ecosystem of services – Looking at the collection of services an organisation provides.

Examples:  The customer journey and the multiple ways in which an organisation provides service across that journey. Projects like these typically start with understanding the current state customer and organisational experience to identify opportunities; moving into exploring potential futures across the ecosystem; and mapping a way to make those things come to life within the organisation.

 A specific service – Looking at an end-to-end service experience, around a particular product or service (things spanning from awareness, to evaluation, purchase, use, completion, or renewal).

Examples:  An existing product is being adopted by customers but not being fully utilised; a particular process that customers need to go through is frustrating and impacting conversion; an opportunity space has been identified to provide a new product or service but an organisation is unsure what that should look like to take advantage of it.

 A touchpoint within a service – Looking at a specific interaction point within a service.

Examples:  Improving the conversation between a sales person and a customer; redesigning part or all of a website; mapping out the follow-up call strategy for a service centre.

The things that are different across the scales is the ultimate form of our design, and this is where different levels of expertise play in. When it comes to ecosystems and services, we’re dealing with customer experience across channels and operational design around the intersection of process, people, environments and systems within a dynamic and complex system. We’re more often than not dealing with cultural change and operational transformation, truly shaping how a company needs to work in order to get the best outcomes. When it comes to touchpoints, we’re dealing with particular mediums and tap into our expertise across digital, environment, print and conversation. Our designs are always grounded in the broader context of the service or ecosystem in which it sits. Ultimately, we are focusing on designing for behaviour no matter the scale or medium (see Steve’s talk at Interaction14 about a Model of Behavioural Design that explores that more).

It’s an exciting time here at Meld Studios. When I look across the body of work at play today, I can see examples of all scales of service design happening, and the potential for helping our clients work in a different way is salient. As we grow our practice and mature our approach, we continue to reflect and explore what this means for customer experience and the organisation that needs to bring it to life.


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