Service Design needs to be merged with User Experience Design in order to deliver great service experiences to the end customer.
The design field is evolving fast. As design is a practice that needs to be adapted to the current playing field, it’s always being updated with new processes to reach a desirable result. It’s a profession in which the designers always try to find new ways of improving their work, and that means being inspired by other professions, ideas and methods.
There are as many ways of doing Service Design and User Experience Design as there are design companies working in these fields. This makes it somewhat complex and perhaps pointless to define these design fields. I understand that this blogpost will be a subject of discussion, and I’ll therefore begin by saying that the description that follows is based on my own, professional experiences as to the differences and similarities between Service Design and User Experience Design.
Service Design & User Experience Design
Both design methods are spawned from Design Thinking, and they’re each different paths toward finding the best solution, but the application of the design processes varies depending on the situation. Service Design is a holistic and strategic approach used to figure out what to do, where to do it and why to do it, while User Experience Design is a detailed and tactical approach used to get a certain task done. There is, however, a significant overlap between the two disciplines.
”Service Design is a holistic approach used to figure out what to do, where to do it, why to do it” – @erikwesterdahl
Service Design is a profession where the Service Designer sees an entire service, channel independent, from the end customers point of view. This is done to find areas where the service needs to be improved, even in areas where the customer is not directly interacting with the service. This is done through qualitative data collection directly from the end customers to identify the problems causing dissatisfaction, and then developing concept solutions together with the end customers through an iterative design process. Service Designers don’t ask the end customers what they want, they find the true needs of the end customer and operate based on those needs. This way, Service Design doesn’t just treat a symptom of a problem, but creates recommendations for how to cure the actual problem.
In a general Service Design project, there are usually a lot of unique interactions. A common challenge is to gather the correct target group to participate in the interactions. In the end, a successful, qualitative Service Design project usually pinpoints the same problem areas as a quantitative survey. It also answers why it’s a problem and makes recommendations as to how to solve the problem, based on end customer insights and tested concepts.
Due to the fact that Service Design often examines a current service with current end customers, it can be challenging to be innovative. The recommendations are often a mix of incremental and innovative improvements to the current service, and it can be challenging to implement the suggested solutions in a silo-structured organisation. However, the sum of all improvements can become an innovative solution and have a very positive impact on the customer experience.
”A Service Designer sees an entire service from the end customers point of view” – @erikwesterdahl
User Experience Design
User Experience Design is a profession where the designers look at specific touch-points in the service, most often in the digital channel. This is also done from the end customers point of view, to improve the experience of using the service on that touch-point and in that specific channel. User Experience Designers usually do user studies and test digital prototypes directly with the end customers through an iterative design process.
The end customer interactions are usually very limited, if at all. This means that the designers rely heavily on the performed user testing, their professional experience and gathered quantified data. Since User Experience Design mostly focuses on improvements to the digital channels, it can easily miss the true customer needs. However, the suggested improvements are often easy to implement and the effects are measurable. User Experience Designers usually work in close collaboration with the client and can be of great support to the developers.
”UX Design focuses on improving the digital channels, it can easily miss the true customer needs” – @erikwesterdahl
Summary – What if?
In short, you could say that Service Designers usually map the changes that need to be made to a service and help the client to prioritize correctly, no matter the channel, and the User Experience Designers actually do the changes, or at least bring the concepts closer to reality.
What if we could merge Service Design and User Experience Design into a new design process? Then the client would know what to do and why, where to do it and how, and he would even get the solution delivered. The end customer would benefit greatly from the improvements to the service, have a great experience using it and recommend the service to others.
Client + End Customer + Service Design + User Experience Design = Great Services and Service Experiences.
In the coming series of blog posts, I’ll describe how Screen Interaction is working with this new type of design process, creating great services and service experiences for a world in constant change.
// Erik Westerdahl
Digital Service Designer @ Screen Interaction