In a recent post, we have been talking about the complexity of the customer journey and about the potential of service design when it comes to create better experiences throughout every touchpoint, to the benefit of all stakeholders: customers, the organisation, and people employed at each stage of the process. As a brief recap, we can define service design as the discipline and the approach underlying it which aims at improving the experiences of both users and employees by designing and streamlining an organisationʼs operations to better support customer journeys. Today we are going to discuss the scope of service design, its versatile application to a range of different sectors, from public services to corporations, to non profit.

Designing for citizens: the case of GDS UK


The story of GDS was basically initiated by a letter, sent to one important person to another within the British Government. Its content, pretty harsh and peremptory: “The Government is not answering usersʼ needs”. Which is exactly what governments are supposed to stand for. The message went on saying: “We need a revolution, not an evolution.” That revolution eventually came and was called GDS. The Government Digital Service, the new department fostering digital change within the government, has since its foundation helped the public sector save some 1.7 billion pounds, while aiming at “making service design simple for all of government” (Louise Downe, GDS). Among its activities, GDS has contributed to create the Design system for all service employees to use and has massively streamlined the collaboration between government and end-to-end services.

Uberʼs feat for a profitable onboarding


As the distance between products and services blurs into more complex systems, organisations have to come to grips with a proliferation of touchpoints, which all need to be evenly orchestrated to cater for usersʼ demands. The first stages of a customer journey are indeed the most delicate often due to a lack of knowledge and skills-customers drop off early in the user journey as they don’t know how to get started and feel unprepared. Usersʼ frustration at this point can drive them to stop using the service or product all together. What in marketing terms is called “conversion” – the acceptance of a service by the user and their deliberate decision to use it- is extremely difficult to achieve. Uberʼs rider app was conceived to unify the on-boarding experience for both drivers and customers. A good example of UX design combined to service design, the app has been the result of a one-year design research, consisting of qualitative interviews with drivers, ethnographic and desk research on psychology, iterative design. The overall output involved a redefinition of system design, an overhaul of Uberʼs back-end service, and a review of clientsʼ frameworks to meet growing demand from a globally increasing user base.

The role of co-creation in social innovation

Held in 2016 in the small city of Brescia, in Northern Italy, the #HackathonBs have brought together over several meet ups patients, healthcare professionals, designers and makers, with the aim to cooperatively come up with new concepts for electronic devices and solutions meant to ease basic life tasks for people suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis. Besides spreading awareness on a not so very well known disease, the series of encounters, which Paco has contributed to run, made voice unique insights and ideas from all the stakeholders involved in the project, first and foremost the patients -the real target users- who were actively engaged in the design thinking process.

Why service design

All of these different examples show how service design can pay off companies at many levels. Perhaps the most conspicuous effect that service design can do on an organisation is smoothing the gap between customer-facing outputs, which usually absorb most organizationsʼ resources, and internal processes. The latter include, among other things, the experience of people working for the organisation.

Breaking down the role of service design within organisations, there are three fundamental aspects to consider. First of all, service design assuages conflicts, which oftentimes arise as business models are not always aligned with the service they are meant to serve. Secondly, service design help foster relationships among roles and departments within an organisation. Finally, and most importantly, when it comes to streamlining processes, service design contribute to creating that sort of birdʼs-eye view, which is the crucial starting point to better design suitable strategies to intervene on and improve individual bits of the whole business ecosystem.


Author: Silvia Podestà