Improving the Service-Based Design Experience

December 26, 2012

While service-based design is intangible, tangible product designs provide instant feedback with end results that are more consistent. What happens if we were to apply product design process methods to service-based design?

Service-based products and businesses can be complex as it is largely focused on the interactions between employees and the customer. Typically, the quality of the experience is determined during the final encounter that takes place in the “front stage”. The process the service goes through up to this point is often invisible to the “front stage” customers and they miss out on the “back stage” activities where the information or materials needed by the front stage are processed. This makes it difficult for customers to understand why things are taking such a long time and/or why the end results may not be consistent. It is essential to consider the entire network of services that comprise both the front and back stage in order to improve the user experience.

For example, as most of you know, Dominos is a fast food pizza delivery company. Their value is based on the entire experience of purchasing the pizza – from ordering the pizza to acquiring it, and finally the taste. Through their new Tracker® system, the buyer is able to track their order from the moment it is prepared to the second it leaves the store and is out for delivery. There are different lengths in the stages involved, from the placing of the order to the cooking, cutting, and delivery. Consumers receive visual feedback with color changes when progress is made for each stage. It provides them with a more connected experience as to what goes on behind-the-scenes and how they get to that end result.

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The goal of Tracker® system design is for upper management to be able to track service levels within each restaurant, while also providing a more enjoyable experience for the user who can now track the status of their order. It is a win-win for all parties involved.

This is one example of how a strategic design process mixed with design thinking can help improve the service design. Other examples might include FedEx and UPS, who provide a specific service and allows you to track your order, or Amazon, who analyze your user patterns and behaviors, suggesting other products that you may also like.

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Services can deliver better user experiences if we can make the process more tangible by applying suitable technology and clear visual communication. When customers are able to see what is going on behind-the-scenes through intuitive mapping, it makes them feel more comfortable with the entire experience. Today, with the help of technology, services are more visible, measurable, and controllable – which is what most consumers’ ultimately desire.

Written by: TJ Kim, Director of New Product Development, Beyond Design, Inc.

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