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Service Design Part I: The Concept

By Carlos M. Rodriguez posted 03-25-2022 16:21


Product Design Develop Tools

Read time:
4 minutes

The kHUB Curator Team members have each been assigned a BoK section to own. This includes seeking, editing and sharing content related to that section.  The curators are also sharing their perspective of various sub-sections of their chapter and contributing personal examples, experience, or related articles corresponding to the subject matter.

Chapter 4 Insights # 7 – Product Design & Development Tools

Service Design at Intersection of User Experience Customer Experience Customer Service

“Like ethnographers, designers have to begin with immersion in real-life situations to gain insights into experiences and meanings that form the basis for reflection, imagination and design.”

Nelson and Stolterman


Service design entails designing the “experience of service”. This experience includes processes, touch points, user interfaces, and multiple interactions within an omni-channel approach. Service design must include business processes, infrastructure, and supporting systems that produce and sustain value as perceived by the user. And service design is generated at the intersection of customer service, customer experience, and user experience (UI) (see Figure 1). A good experience of service starts with a feasible, scalable, and financially viable “service concept”.

Source: Spillar, Frank (2022), Service design: How to design integrated service experiences, Interaction Design Foundation, UK.

According to Goldstein et al. (2002), the service concept defines the “how” and the “what” of service design. And Edvardsson and Olsson (1996) reinforces this definition as a description of what are the needs and wishes to be satisfied and how this is achieved. The authors make the distinction among the development of the service concept, the service system (resource structure), and the development of the service process.

Service concepts may be seen as the “meaning” of the overall experience consumers will remember. These experiences are the bundle of interactions, encounters and emotional connections consumers have as the service is delivered during the customer’s journey. The service concept may envisage a “mental picture” or as proposed by  Clark, Johnston and Shulver (2000) a “service in the mind”.

Service tools to create “meanings”

User Journey Mapping

User journeys are a visual representation of the stages, interactions, and emotional states users experiment during a service encounter. It describes the pain and magic moments during these interactions. The identification of gaps or inconsistencies through the touchpoints within each experience stage allows for re-conceptualization, re-definition of meanings.

Design scenarios

Design scenarios are future conceptualizations of components, elements, interactions in the form of a story. The tool allows for creativity, inspiration, and conceptualization of new possibilities under the potential service concept. A design scenario should clearly the context, characters involved such as customer, brands, etc., and the user motivations.

User Diaries

This method allows the customer to report data about how they spend their time, the main elements they focus on when experiencing the service and its components. This method allows for self-reflection and provide deep insights about expectations, desires, and intentions. Generally, the researcher provides some prompt questions to help in self-reflection, self-assessment, and discovery. Besides the user diary, video, descriptions, photographs aid in providing a rich qualitative information. 

Service Safari

This is an exploratory technique to understand the nature and content of a service. The researcher plays the role of a consumer and inserts himself/herself in the ‘location” where the service is experience. The data is collected through some written, visual, recording means. This method helps find the critical touchpoints but its main benefit is to allow for re-conceptualizing the complete experience.

User Shadowing

This research method is ideal for understanding the means by which the customer interacts with its surroundings and stimuli identifying the inner needs. Shadowing requires spending considerable time with the user while observing what they do, and inquiring about the why specific actions are taken.

Further Reading

Daly, S. R., Yilmaz, S., Christian, J., Seifert, C. and Gonzalez, R. (2012), "Design Heuristics in Engineering Concept Generation", Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 101, pp. 601-629.

Goldstein, S., Johnston, R., Duffy, J.A. and Rao, J. 2002. The Service Concept: The Missing Link in Service Design Research? Journal of Operations Management 20: 121-134.

Han, J., Forbes, H., Shi, F., Hao, J. and Schaefer, D. (2020), “A data-driven approach for creative concept generation and evaluation”, In: Proceedings of the Design Society: DESIGN Conference, pp. 167-176.

Reason, B., Lovlie, L., and Flue, M.E. 2016. Service design for business, Wiley, New Jersey.

About the Author

Carlos Rodriguez

Carlos M Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Quantitative Methods and Director of the Center for the Study of Innovation Management, CSIM in the College of Business, Delaware State University, USA. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business to Business Marketing, Journal of International Marketing, International Marketing Review, Management Decision, International Journal of Business and Social Sciences, Journal of Business and Leadership, and Journal of Higher Education Research & Development among others and several conference proceedings. Currently, he serves in the editorial board of several journals. His research interests are in the areas of entrepreneurship and strategic capabilities, luxury branding and experiences, product design and new product development teams, and relationship marketing. He recently published the book entitled Product Design and Innovation: Analytics for Decision Making centered in the design techniques and methodologies vital to the product design process. He is engaged in several international educational, research, and academic projects, as well, as, international professional activities.

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