May 25, 2022

What is Service Design?

What is Service Design?

What is Service Design?

Service design is the act of managing the system design through planning, infrastructure, communication, and the component of a product to improve the product quality between the service provider and its users. It could be creating a new service or improving an existing service.

For example, ordering food delivery online 🍟🍔🍕🥡🧋🤤. The service provider is UberEats, the product is UberEats app. Service designers are responsible to design the front and back-end process from ordering the food, processing the order, and the food delivery to a seamless experience.

Using this example, our mentor Gavin Manderelle, a service designer at RMIT University in Australia, explained that service designers map out who is responsible for the various stages throughout the entire experience - in this case, UberEats driver, restaurants and customers. Service designers also consider how the success of the service will be measured through appropriate metrics such as customer effort, customer ease and customer satisfaction. That said, there will be no trace of hangry customer UberEats customers 🧟‍♀️🧟‍♂️. 

Gavin added, service design jobs can go by various names which you may have heard before:

  • Customer experience designer (CX designer)
  • Analyst
  • CX strategist
  • Design researcher 
  • Design innovator

and more, it is important for you to, “Read the job position description to see what it is that you’ll be doing if you got the role.” - Gavin.

Gavin explained that service design is:

An investigative design method to uncover big picture ‘problems’ impacting people. A service designer aims to create a hassle-free experience for users as well as for those delivering the service.

A problem solving approach that uses human-centered design methods to understand the people at the center of the problem, and their needs in relation to the problem. It helps to solve users' problems from a systems-based perspective. For example, in what way the service could be better for the users, how to solve service hiccups, or does the service fulfill the users' expectations, needs, or wants?

Unpacks the problem before arriving at the solution.
The research on the design is an essential step to study the users’ behaviour and potential users' behaviour towards the design. It helps to identify or detect future issues that users might encounter when using the design by the service providers.

Marries the needs of the users /customers with the feasibility of the business /service delivery providers.
Service designers could also be defined as a peacemaker in which their aim is to provide a win-win situation between the service providers and the needs of the users. Creating a harmonious experience that supports both parties.

A co-creative process of solving problems involving customers/users, stakeholders, and business providers.
A service design has to put into consideration the issues involving users, stakeholders, and business providers and provide the best service solutions that help each party to overcome the issues.

The 5 principles of Service Design Thinking

  • User-centered; designed based on users’ needs
    Get to know the users. Find out their feelings about using the service, needs, expectations, and wants. The answers or perspectives from users are important to improve your service design.
  • Co-creative
    All parties: consumers, stakeholders, service providers, should be involved in the service design process. This will trigger a sense of contribution towards the process, and the feedback from each department will benefit the service design process.
  • Sequencing (iterative process)
    Visualize the users’ experience from the start till the end of using the service by dividing it into independent processes to ensure a smooth process. 
  • Evidencing (Visual communication)
    Visualizing the service experiences and turning the process into reality. Evidencing aims to provide the users with a good quality experience.
  • Holistic
    Highlight and experiment with different user experiences and the entire journey.

Service design thinking could help to build better design service solutions that are feasible and make users feel good about the whole service experience.

What are service design artifacts, and why is it important?

Service design artifacts are physical or digital artifacts that are required or necessary for the service to be implemented effectively.  Gavin added that, “service design artifacts are communicative and visual documents of the synthesized, and filtered customer research that the business uses to create new or improved services. Examples include customer journey maps, user personas, research reports, and service blueprints.”

These service design artifacts are important for service designers to:

  • Detect the problems and the causes of the problem. (customer journey maps)
  • Use as service design reference (Service blueprints)
  • The description of the users' backgrounds, behavior patterns, goals, skills, and attitudes could provide valuable information to create a new service or improvise the existing service. (user personas)
  • Incorporate complaints, suggestions, or any types of feedback from users, stakeholders, or service providers so that they could be studied by service designers to recreate a better service design. (research design)

“If you’re thinking of getting into service design, ask yourself why you want to get into service design. If you think you will be ‘making’ a new service from day one, then you are mistaken. Service design is a process and not a final output or destination. Seeing the impact of service design can take years. Why? Because change happens slowly – people, time and money make change happen.”- Gavin.

Interested to know more about Service Design? We will share more about how to get into service design from Gavin in another blog. Stay tuned for that!  

Thanks for reading! 🙌🏻


Gavin Mandrelle (ADPList Mentor)
Service designer at RMIT University
ADPList Profile:
LinkedIn account:

Editor and Writer:
Farah Radzi
Content Marketer and Writer at ADPList
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