Chances are you’ve had a bad experience with a service.

Your flight is cancelled but you only find out after waiting 5 hours on the plane?

You’ve been alternating between being on hold, and explaining why you’re calling 4+ times, and your internet issue still isn’t resolved?

Our overall perceptions of brands and places are shaped by our interactions with services. Customers’ experiences can really make or break how a company is seen and how successful it is. Companies across industries are tuning into the importance of service design and the difference it can make to their relationship with customers.

The user is front-and-centre in Service Design. It can help to remember that, “A design isn’t finished until somebody is using it,” according to Brenda Laurel, a designer at MIT.

Service design as a design discipline was first introduced in 1991, so it’s a relatively new field. And with the many varied design disciplines out there, it can be difficult to understand the sometimes subtle differences between them. Spatial, Industrial, graphic, user-experience, user-interface, interaction and service design—all of these design disciplines approach problems using design-thinking. Service design is distinct from other design areas because it predominantly deals with processes and experiences instead of physical things. We interact with hundreds of services on a daily basis, but you probably don’t think about these interactions, because oftentimes services are intangible.


Service-Goods Continuum

The above image, pulled from a video by Yosef Shuman, shows the entire spectrum of services, ranging from tangible to intangible, and from simple to highly complex.

What do Service Designers do?

Service designers work to make our experiences and interactions with services better; more efficient, more enjoyable, and easier to use for everyone involved. This process is largely dependent on the service that is being designed, but generally consists of the following three steps:

  1. Research: Gathering information and insights from anyone and everyone affected by a service; the stakeholders. By deeply understanding their underlying values and motivations, designers can look into how to best satisfy all everyone involved.
  2. Ideation and co-creation: Service designers and their multi-disciplinary teams come up with ideas based on their research. Services are created with the stakeholders in mind; a collaborative
  3. Validating and Testing ideas: Service designers test their ideas with service prototypes; mockups of ideas that allow stakeholders to interact with aspects of a new idea. Tested ideas are then re-imagined, re-tested, and improved. This cycle is repeated until a final service solution is realised. The solution is then presented to stakeholders, with instruction on how best to implement, sustain and improve the solution, moving forward.

If you’re the type of person that enjoys re-imagining services and how they might be improved, discovering what makes disparate groups of people tick, and applying research to better people’s experiences, then service design is an avenue worth exploring. The applications of service design are diverse and the skill-set is relevant to professions ranging from design to business and management. If you’re interested in upskilling or learning about the key skills we teach, request a Service Design Course syllabus here.

Academy Xi’s short courses are designed to equip you with the practical skills and knowledge required to up-skill or shift careers into the growing area of Service Design. Our next Service Design Course starts on the 23rd August 2016, get in early and Apply Now to secure your place.

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