Service Design or Design for Service


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George Julian has written a well researched, accessible and authentic post with a valid question: What is Service Design? I recommend that you read the post and the rich comments.

I will not try to come up with a definition of Service Design, but I’d like to share with you my view on the topic, coming from a Service Dominant Logic. Furthermore I will try to explain how I think Social CRM, Social Networking & Value co-creation tie into this.

I have to warn you upfront: these are all emergent topics that are more or less somewhere between childhood and adolescence and spark a fine debate. Thus: this not the truth, just my current views based on my interpretation of what I’ve read, seen, heard and been told. Please regard this post as inputs for your own interpretation and please share it later on.

What is Service?

I think this is the starting question of the entire debate. Because if you understand what is Service, than you can understand what it is you need to design. I take my cue for the “definition” of Service from a Service Dominant Logic (I know, the regular readers will be shocked to hear this – or bored to death..).

One of the basic elements of a Service Dominant Logic is the understanding that both goods (tangibles) and services (intangibles) provide a service to the Customer.. From that perspective there is no reason why there should be different approaches towards marketing (not just the PR and communications part!) either goods or services. Thus, to me it is obvious that:

Service Design is not just about designing services. Service Design is ignorant of products and services.

But, what is Service?

If you’re a good observer you noticed I did not answer my own question yet. I said that goods (products) and services provide a service to the Customer, but never explained what “Service” is. In my opinion Service is like Value.. very hard to define, because it’s something completely subjective, conditional and temporal.

How we talk about service resembles how we talk about value: Service is something you provide and Value is something you add.. Both, in my humble opinion, are, at best, flawed ways of framing. I wrote about framing “value” before. Here is how I think of ‘Service’, in the context of a business’ purpose, today:

Service is the personal sum of a Customer’s experiences in all her interactions, through touch-points, with the products and/or services of the company


in all her interactions with the relevant experiences of others, through or in the Customer’s (on-line) social networks

making up for the Customer’s perception of the value received and/or to be received from the company at any point in time.

So, that is what Service is about, according to me that is, from a Customer’s perspective (my favorite angle). The contradiction here is that, as a Customer, we perceive value as something we get, or receive, but from a provider’s perspective, we should never make the mistake of thinking it is something we can “just provide”.

What do you design for?

Many companies think they are designing for Customer satisfaction or promoter score. In real life we are designing for intangible, complex, highly conditional, functional, emotional, social and mostly temporal perceived value. And the good thing about the Service design discipline is that they have some excellent tools and approaches to better understand what’s of value to the Customer..

That’s it for part 1. Part 2, in which I’ll go into the link with Social Networking and Social CRM – or wherever you take me with the comments – will arrive later this week 😉

Now, shred it to bytes..

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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