What is Service Design and Design Thinking?

If you are familiar with the terms Service design and Design Thinking but do not have a clear understanding of these processes then this article is for you.

Have you ever felt confused when visiting a store, restaurant or hotel when something doesn’t happen the way it should?

For example, you have difficulty finding an exit to the checkout counter in a supermarket or the place to leave your luggage in the hotel lobby? Have you ever spent too much time on maintenance because staff didn’t do their jobs properly? Have you ever visited websites whose interfaces were difficult to understand? 

Have you experienced frustration when colleagues you interact with regarding work issues react slowly and inefficiently in the process of solving production tasks? Perhaps your entire experience with the company is far from what you want or expect? In practice, each of us faces similar situations.

You may be wondering what these examples have to do with the processes of Service Design and Design Thinking. Well, they are related! Both Service Design and Design Thinking will help avoid negative customer experiences in the future.

What is Service Design?

A classic marketing strategy is developed based on the capabilities, principles and philosophy that a company wishes to pass on to their customers. In Service Design, the process is developed from the outside and is based on the customer’s wishes. The ultimate goal of the process is to maximize the customer’s or employee’s experience.

Thanks to Service Design, there are advantages for both customers and service providers. After eliminating inefficiencies, the company gets an optimised structure. For business owners, this reduces costs, while for employees, it simplifies the workflow. 

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is the main tool used in Service Design. It is used to identify the real needs of both internal and external customers, as well as to generate ideas and make decisions. Design Thinking is a creative way to solve the problems of companies and organizations. It is used to create a link between the real needs of customers and the company’s capabilities.

Just as furniture or interior designers strive for harmony in the appearance and functionality of their products or services, service designers strive to design a positive experience for both end-users and service providers. Design Thinking and Service Design, although different processes, are closely related to each other.

By applying Design Thinking, companies consider the customer’s needs as the basis for each business task. Marketers start from the expectations customers have when entering a store, hotel or restaurant, when using Internet resources and during internal interactions of company employees.

This method encourages companies to focus on the people they offer products and services to. The use of the method is a result of the creation of human-oriented products, services and internal processes and therefore involves a change in the way of thinking. Empathy is experimental communication

Unlike traditional methods, Design Thinking takes our emotions into account, as well as how they affect our actions and consumer experience. Design Thinking uses market research and empathy techniques to uncover the real needs of customers, as well as the nature of their interaction with services and products.

In practice, Design Thinking is an iterative (repetitive) process through which the tendency to understand the user or client is implemented. Many different hypotheses are put forward to redefine problems in an attempt to discover alternative strategies and creative ideas. As a rule, these ideas lie on the surface, but when implementing our usual way of thinking, we fail to notice them.

Where can I apply the techniques of Service Design and Design Thinking?

Service Design and Design Thinking techniques are used in transforming the processes of companies and non-profit organizations. Design Thinking is able to improve the production of products and services provided by companies to both external and internal customers in order to achieve maximum customer satisfaction and generate a positive customer experience.

These concepts help to reorganize external services, rethink internal processes and to create the most motivating environment for employees.

A good  example is the complete reconstruction of the Pediatric Emergency Department for a children’s hospital in Florida. The project was implemented by an experienced Philips design team. Using a methodology called “experience transformation”, the movements and interactions of key employees, nurses and doctors, patients and their families were detailed and analyzed.

Service designers, the Phillips team, architects and hospital managers worked together. Through group discussions and brainstorming sessions, the designers conceptualized the transformation of emergency care and applied specialized interior design solutions and cutting-edge technologies.

The unique clinical space gained its warmth and hospitality, a bright atmosphere of color and light, emphasizes playfulness, along with the competence of the clinic. Patient rooms are equipped with personal amenities, and the environment can be personalized, providing a distraction from the severity of the situation. The anxiety of children and parents has significantly decreased, according to the hospital’s doctors,

— said Marla Silliman, Senior Vice President and Administrator of the children’s hospital in Florida.

Advantages of Design Thinking:

  • helps businesses solve complex problems;
  • reduces risks associated with the launch of new products and services, new business lines and new business ideas;
  • increases customer satisfaction and loyalty;
  • generates innovative solutions;
  • promotes rapid employee training and company development;
  • improves team atmosphere and increases the level of motivation of employees.

With the help of Service Design Thinking, you can anticipate customer expectations when they enter a store, hotel or restaurant or when they view a website, interact with colleagues or when being employed in a job. Thanks to Service Design, your customer experience will be pleasant and memorable!

How can I do this? 

It is quite simple. You need to learn special tools for Service Design and Design Thinking and start implementing them in your company. The most effective way to learn these techniques is to participate in interactive master classes.

If you have recently become familiar with these concepts, you should take the “Fundamentals of Design Thinking and Service Design” course. 

 If you already have basic knowledge, then you should attend the course “Drawing the path of clients” in order to master the basic tool of Design Thinking. 

 If you are already familiar with the concepts of Service Design Thinking, but you still lack the skills to practice, the “Facilitation” course will suit you.  

 If you are involved in HR management and are interested in applying this concept to improve the experience of your employees, do not miss the course “Design the employee Experience”.

Procter & Gamble went through all three stages of Design Thinking when it decided to rebrand the skin care product “Oil of Olay”.

Service designers observed customers visiting mass retail chains and high-end department stores. Research showed that the company’s target market was focused primarily on women over fifty who are worried about wrinkles. However, the needs of the female audience from 30 to 40 years old were not taken into account at all. This category of buyers had completely different needs.

In order to solve many skin care problems for women aged 30 to 40, P&G experimented with new formulations of cosmetics. Various product prototypes were tested.  Service designers diagnosed points of sale, store layouts, and prices.

As a result, Procter & Gamble released a series of new premium, affordable products that were well received by a wide range of consumers. 

Research done using the Design Thinking method has opened up a huge untapped market,

— said Adela Christia, co-founder of the Amsterdam Academy of Design Thinking,

Joining the world of Design Thinking not only improves business processes but is also able to radically change the attitude of participants in the process and develop intellectual abilities.

Genuine interest in the use of Empathy as the main tool in the process and the result of implementation, captures and changes the emotional background and encourages a radical revision of the individual’s values in the process.

Design Thinking is a method of complex problem solving for businesses that helps companies quickly adapt to the intricate challenges of the future. The importance of Design Thinking becomes more acute when you consider that customer preferences and their freedom of choice will be crucial to the success of any business in the future.

If you are not satisfied with the service you provide to your customers, 4Service Group specialists are ready to apply our knowledge to transform your business and help make your service even more human-centered


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