Erik Westerdahl

Merging Service Design with User Experience Design – Pt. 3: The What

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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

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

Merging Service Design with User Experience Design – Pt. 2: The Why

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An external agency that offers everything from strategy to finished solutions is imperative to help silo-based companies close the gaps in their development processes and deliver great user experiences.

Service design has taken a great leap forward during the last three years. As a direct result of a sudden and rapid development of new technology and self-service solutions as well as a strong trend in customer insight-driven development, digital disruptors have put many established companies in a vulnerable position. On the flip side, some companies have found themselves in a position where they can save great amounts of money and create more efficient processes.

Outside in, not inside in

As a result of previous, failed attempts to innovate based on quantified data in the internal development process of services and products, companies have finally realized that they need to understand the end user’s real needs and his or hers journey throughout the entire service in order to innovate, prioritize and make the correct improvements. The customer’s journey through the entire service equals the customer experience of the service.

”The customer’s journey through the entire service equals the CX of the service.” – @erikwesterdahl

An outside point of view is required for companies to avoid the internal politics and silo-isolated development process experienced in most large corporations. Many have therefore turned to external service design consultancies to advise them. Companies that have had previous, negative experiences in the handover process between different consulting agencies and/or internal departments have seen the benefits of collaborating with an agency that can guide them through the entire process from strategy to finished product or service.

The handover process

Today, there are a select, few agencies that offer services from strategy to solution. Service design can discover genuine customer needs through the entire process, but to build outstanding customer experiences in the digital field, most companies need the services of user experience designers and developers. Because of the growing service design market in a field of tough competition, many design agencies have suddenly started to offer service design packages as a part of their businesses. Designers have changed their titles overnight to ”Service Designer” or even ”Senior Service Designer”. Even though many design companies claim to offer both service design and user experience design as a part of their businesses, they still offer them as isolated projects that can cause problems in the handover process for their clients. They also generally don’t have the developers on hand, which creates an even more complicated transition where a lot of private information about the customers can get lost.

A partner from strategy to solution

Screen Interaction detected these issues and expanded into the area of service design with the ambition of merging it with their user experience designers and developers already on hand. Since then, several successful projects from strategy to final service or product have been developed in close cross-silo collaboration with the client. These are solutions that will soon be released to a new and demanding digital market.

The process of merging service design with user experience design and development is a challenging and ongoing process at Screen Interaction. In order to avoid the problems caused by the handover process the client needs to be challenged with a new type of collaboration project that stretches through a longer period of time and through the many different company-silos, a process that today can be difficult at larger companies.

In my next blog post, I’ll describe the differences and similarities between service design and user experience design and how they can work in symbiosis to generate exceptional services, products, business models and customer experiences.

// Erik Westerdahl
Digital Service Designer @ Screen Interaction

Merging Service Design with User Experience Design – Pt. 1: The Idea

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A new design process is required to meet human needs in a world of exponential technological growth and a constant increase in customer expectations.

The behavior of customers is changing fast as new products and services are being released to the market at an ever-accelerating pace. We’re becoming more and more digital in everyday life, and our expectations are constantly increasing. Mobile browsing is bypassing desktop computing, and omni-channel experiences are becoming a ”hygiene factor”. Big data is the new “black,” and the Internet of Things is on the verge of breakthrough. New services, connections and products that we could previously only dream about will be created and brought to market within the coming years. In the midst of all this, established companies are fighting hard to stay relevant with old products, services and business models. Companies that decided early on to follow the latest technology trends are suddenly stuck with old, silo-based solutions that are becoming obsolete and costly to maintain.

Digital disruption

Despite all of this, there’s a new generation of entrepreneurs who see the possibility to create better digital services and solutions. Not chiefly driven by an economical perspective, they feel the urge to satisfy human needs. A true incentive that creates a true need. These entrepreneurs create new economical structures and business models, and they take advantage of free online software and crowdsourcing platforms such as Kickstarter to elicit the funding they require to turn their ideas into reality. This gives them unexpected power to threaten old markets. The phenomenon is called “digital disruption”, and this new generation of entrepreneurs is sometimes referred to as “digital disruptors”.

The main principles of digital disruption are nothing new; it’s about satisfying human needs and using technology to accomplish that. It’s not about technological innovations; digital disruption simply uses the technology already available to create innovations. The potential effects of digital disruption are interesting, because in the long run, it can become a form of “creative destruction”.

Creative destruction

Creative destruction is a hallmark of both capitalist and anarchist thought. It describes the ”process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”.

Today, we can see several of these digital disruptors challenging the old markets, such as Spotify, AirBnb, Uber and Netflix. Long-standing companies are threatened by this quick development and can no longer afford long research and development processes (which usually, once started, can’t be altered or stopped because the result was predetermined.) This kind of process is not equivalent to innovation. There is, however, a design practice which can be applied to services, processes, business models and products in order to alter them and make them relevant again, and it’s called ”Design Thinking”.

Design Thinking

In this new digital market, it’s obvious that we need new processes to keep up. We need to combine holistic thinking with hands-on development to see the technology patterns and human needs in everyday life and quickly translate them into early concepts and prototypes for user testing and business development. Service Design and User Experience Design are a potent mix of both. Each of them has its drawbacks and advantages, but together they complement each other. A successful holistic thinking model that can combine these design processes into a new design process is called Design Thinking.

Design Thinking is an open-minded approach to any given multi-dimensional problem that uses innovative methods to solve existing challenges and create new solutions. In the coming series of blog posts, I will describe the development process of merging Service Design with User Experience Design using Design Thinking at Screen Interaction, creating a new design process for a world in constant change.

// Erik Westerdahl
Digital Service Designer @ Screen Interaction


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"Erik has a remarkable talent that most of us would only dream of. Where ordinary people’s brains are geared to either a strategic or a detailed mode Erik’s wired differently. He has the unique ability to deliver high level strategic thinking but also zoom into details and high resolution solutions. Erik can effortlessly see patterns in complex information, he is an insanely fast worker, he always seem to be one step ahead."

− Erik Widmark, Senior Service Designer - Transformator Design

"Erik is an outstanding designer with great knowledge and work ethic. He is a great model for others to follow. (...) It is for these reasons that I offer high recommendations for Erik without reservation."

− Griselda Sastrawinata, Visual Development Artist - DreamWorks

"Erik is not afraid of anything. He is really sharp, sees things, acts and executes instantly."

− Pernilla Dahlman, CEO - Screen Interaction

"Erik is always ready to work, always punctual, he is independent, smart, flexible and articulate. He often had to make split second decisions and was always a team player."

− Linn Ullmann, Founder & fmr. Artistic Director - The Bergman Estate Foundation