Service Design

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In a Service Design project, we develop or improve services to optimize the experience of customers and end users. It is not always easy to discover what this experience looks like and where the opportunities lie to improve it. Therefore, it is important to conduct sufficient user research at the start of your project. We asked Leonie, one of our most experienced service designers, about her approach:

Hi Leonie, how do you usually start in a Service Design project?

To get real insights, it firstly is important to define the scope of the project: Who is using your service today and who do you want to reach with your service soon? We often do this by drawing up a stakeholder map or ecosystem map in which all the important actors are included. After this, we make an overview of the target group(s) we want to investigate. We also draw up a list of respondents we want to speak to if the client is not yet able to give us one.

You have defined your target group. What is the next step?

The best way to get accurate and in-depth information from your target group is, of course, in face-to-face interviews. The biggest pitfall is to think you know your target group and to work with these assumptions. That is why we always try to schedule interviews of at least 45 minutes in which we gauge the experiences of this person. What went well, what went less well, what did you expect, what would you like to see different... In these interviews, many of your initial hypotheses prove to be false because you suddenly find out what really matters to your end user.
During the user research, we look for every possible barrier during the complete experience of the user. Of course, every experience is completely different. Therefore, it is important to create different personas that allow us to give each type of user a voice. In these personas we capture the most important motivations, barriers, and opportunities towards the complete experience of the service. Jente, one of our analysis experts, shares her experience:

Hello Jente, how do you analyse the personas?

Well, your personas are only as strong as the research that supports them. That is why it is very important to make an analysis of every person you have spoken to. Depending on the context and the customer, you focus on different aspects but we always look for 2 or 3 differentiating factors between these people. With these factors, we create a framework to shape our first personas.

Dag Jente, hoe belanden jullie juist op deze persona’s?

Wel, je persona’s zijn maar zo sterk als het onderzoek dat ze kan ondersteunen. Daarom is het erg belangrijk om een analyse te maken van elk persoonlijk verhaal dat je hebt gehoord. Afhankelijk van de context en de klant ga je focussen op verschillende aspecten maar we gaan altijd op zoek naar 2 of 3 onderscheidende factoren. Met deze factoren maken we een framework waar we de persona’s mee vormgeven.

What do you look for when creating a persona?

Personas are not 1-on-1 representations of a single user, but represent a group of users with a similar need, experience or other distinguishing characteristic. It distils subgroups of your target group into unique, distinct personas that you can then use to optimise your product or service.
This framework is of great importance when drawing up the final Customer Journey. In this visual overview, we find every step that the persona experiences, together with the emotions, thoughts, barriers and opportunities. It gives us an overview of the whole experience and a perfect starting point to create a concrete Service Blueprint, containing new recommendations and underlying processes. Grisha explains further:

Grisha, how do you build a customer journey?

To start, I look at the general phases every user has to go through. Based on this info, we analyse how the different personas handle this step. Therefore, it is important to create a CJ (Customer Journey) for each persona. Consequently, we analyse each layer, from thoughts to quotes and so on. This is a time-consuming step because you must pay attention to every detail and piece of info you have aquired during the user research.

What other methods do you use in a service design process?

Sommige opportuniteiten ontdekken we al samen met onze respondenten, of hypothetiseren wij als ontwerpers zelf tijdens de analyse. De meeste opportuniteiten echter, bepalen we in co-creatie met onze opdrachtgever, de eindgebruikers zelf en andere belangrijke stakeholders. Dit kan met een vragenlijst maar ook bijvoorbeeld met een interactieve brainstormsessie.

Welke andere methoden gebruiken jullie in een service design traject?

One of the methods we are increasingly using is experience interviews. This is a semi-structured interview where we start by having the respondent draw an experience curve. In this curve, they indicate how they experience the service and where their experience is positive or negative. It gives us a bit more structure and a nice opening point to continue asking about the highs and lows of their experience.

We also use different brainstorming methods to come up with solutions from different angles. Reverse brainstorming is a personal favourite in which you start thinking about 'the reverse solutions', or what you can do to cause the problems we have identified. It is a method that cleverly exploits the human reflex to think in problems rather than solutions.

The Service blueprint is the final deliverable of a Service Design process. Starting from a Customer Journey in which all opportunities are included, we analyse all the underlying processes needed to bring this journey to a successful conclusion. This goes a lot further than just the experience and considers which systems, data, hardware and software are important in providing the most optimal service.