What is service design: CX Mini Masterclass – E58

By October 17, 2019 December 20th, 2019 No Comments
This CX Mini Masterclass provides an overview of service design and why this is important for teams that are working on customer journey improvement. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, explains how most brands these days provide a mix of goods and services and why service design plays a critical role in bringing customer journeys to life. If you want to learn about service design and its place in a CX professional’s toolkit, then this episode is for you.




Goods vs. services

To understand service design, we need to clarify the difference between goods and services in the marketplace. Goods are tangible items of value, like cars, sweaters or cartons of milk. Services are intangible items of value like expert advice or training. If we were to look at the consumer marketplace 100 years ago, most brands would have provided either a good or a service, with a few providing a hybrid of the two. In the modern marketplace, the reverse is true. Most organizations provide both goods and services.

A medical clinic is a classic example of the goods/services hybrid; they provide a combination of tangible products in the form of medicine with medical consultation that is a service. SaaS providers are an excellent example of the hybrid of goods and services that is so pervasive in the modern marketplace. Brands like Google, Hubspot and others provide a good through their software, but they also provide a suite of services around that software to enhance its usage. Yes, there are definitely still organizations out there that provide just a product or just a service, but these are now the outliers. And with consumers doing so much more through digital channel in particular, it’s given rise to a whole ecosystem of services to support customers.


Defining service design

Episode 57 looked into design thinking, which was essentially born out of product design. While modern design thinking can also be used to creatively problem solve for service-based solutions, actually providing experiences that are based on a blend of goods and services is a complex undertaking. That is where service design comes in.


Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers.


Service design is where teams lift up the hood and look at all the parts that are needed to make an experience happen. CX teams can dream up the most amazing customer experience in the world, but if the rest of the organization isn’t equipped to deliver that experience, it’s all for not. So, service design is where we get to turn our perspective inwards to the people, processes and technology that make experiences happen.

Service design clarifies the roles, responsibilities and inter-dependencies that are needed to deliver an experience. Service design unpacks this in terms of interactions that the customer sees and the layers of behind the scenes actions functions that are necessary.

Wondering how to actually do service design? Stay tuned for episode 59


Want to keep learning about CX?

If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.

And if you are looking to super-charge your CX skills and continue learning, be sure to check out CX University. They have a great array of CXPA accredited training resources available on a flexible monthly subscription plan. Use the code PODCAST10 to get 10% off your first month’s subscription and support this podcast.

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including B2B CX strategy) or get in touch via email










Julia Ahlfeldt

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