What is Service Design?

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Service design is an approach or discipline that seeks to create and improve services by taking a human centred perspective and looking at an entire service ecosystem holistically.

It seeks to deeply understand the customer or user experience of that service from end to end. This is balanced by also looking at the operation of that service from an organisational perspective.

This understanding of customer, user and organisation then forms the basis for strategically and deliberately designing how that service is delivered and experienced. This will often be done by co-creating or designing the service with the people that will be using and delivering it.

Where many research methods take a broad, quantitative approach to understanding people, service design generally goes deep and is more qualitative. It seeks to find not just the who, what and where but very importantly the how and why. It delves into the needs and motivations of people and seeks to first build empathy in order to truly understand.

Service design can be applied to virtually any problem or challenge involving people. Not just for customers and users, it also extends to internal organisational culture, strategy and operations. It can even be applied to products. There are few products these days that are not part of a wider service ecosystem.

I'd love to hear from you. What is service design to you? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.