The nature of service and how we’ve grown up with a service economy which is now finding it very hard to actually serve customers – Interview with Joel Bailey of EY Seren


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Today’s interview is with Joel Bailey, who is a Director at EY Seren, the global design consultancy within EY. Joel is a friend of mine, someone I have worked with and a really interesting thinker when it comes to service. Our conversation was precipitated by the publication of an article he wrote (2020: A new decade of service) earlier this year. So, we set up a time to chat to talk about why we should leave the experience economy behind, that service is the element that connects customer experience and employee experience and the idea that we need to define service anew.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Authentic leadership is just the rebranding of transformational leadership with some of the caffeine taken out – Interview with Professor Dennis Tourish – and is number 339 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with Joel:

  • There is a lot of design going on but it’s become a bit procedural and method driven.
  • Joel is more interested in how service works, what services are and how people can be helped to serve in their organisations.
  • Joel’s post (2020: A new decade of service) written earlier this year precipitated this conversation.
  • The experience economy is a bit too narrow and has been focusing on the slightly superficial aspect of human experience or customer experience.
  • Often there is a lot of manipulation of experience going on and that is often at the expense of the customer.
  • The customer’s experience is slightly been manipulated in the service of the business.
  • Customer experience does really need to have an integrity at the centre of it.
  • There is integrity within the idea of service.
  • We’ve grown up with a service economy which is now finding it very hard to actually serve customers.
  • Service is the thing that I experience.
  • Service is the thing that brings together customer and employee experience.
  • The system of the organisation seems to be the big blocker to progress.
  • I haven’t come across anybody who’s willingly trying not to serve the customer. Everyone wants to do it. But, the system prevents it from happening.
  • The organisation gets in the way of peoples deep instinct to serve someone else.
  • Leadership and management could be part of the problem and it’s thrown them slightly. It is having to change from enforced power to enabled power.
  • They need to listen to, pay attention to and enable the folks that are on the frontline.
  • Focusing on customer success and removing customer failure….that is the new form of leadership.
  • Research is not about gathering data, it’s about gathering a deep understanding.
  • The Latin root of the word serve comes from slavery. But, if you look more broadly there is a Sanskrit word ‘Seva’ which means selfless service, which is a very different approach to framing what services are, what it means to serve and to be in service to something.
  • Four different ways to describe service and how we serve:
    • 1. Social – I am in service of various things, various communities, various things that I do in my life.
    • 2. Ethical and spiritual – this relates to a shared set of beliefs and codes in the name of a higher order. But again, you are serving a community.
    • 3. Civil or public service – this is a big area of service that’s generally a more institutionalised form of service i.e. you go into public service, you join the military.
    • 4. Economic logic – this is where we start getting into services and how we can help others for economic benefit.
  • Right now we are self-serving and that is costing the planet. However, I foresee us reframing what we serve away from individualism towards a more collective point of view in order for us to survive.
  • Collective in the sense of moving from ‘I’ to ‘We’.
  • I don’t care if you are a service designer or a Lean Six Sigma person or whatever. I just want to help people frame what they’re working on in a different way and try and instigate a different conversation.
  • That will mean lots of experimentation.
  • There’s not enough good conversations happening between providers and customers.
  • Bring your customers in to your organisation or taking your work out to customers is the best catalyst to change.
  • Joel’s Punk CX word: Anti Easy-Listening
  • Joel’s Punk CX brand: Dushan Zaric.

About Joel

Joel BaileyJoel is a Service Designer and has been for around 20 years. He applies systems thinking, research and design to improve services across sectors. Whether its reducing cost, increasing revenue, or improving customer or employee outcomes, he takes a very practical and hands on approach to delivering results.

He is currently a Director at EY Seren, the global design consultancy within EY, and Forrester’s Global Innovation Leader 2019.

Read the post that precipitated our conversation, find out more about Joel at his personal site, say Hi to him and the folks at EY Seren on Twitter @joelbaileyuk and @EY_Seren and connect with Joel on LinkedIn here.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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