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Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.

What Does Service Design Even Mean?

Lyndon Valicenti

Hosted at IIT’s Institute of Design, the first national Service Design Network conference occurred last week in Chicago. Insights filled my twitter feed and explored everything from improving the navigability of the citizenship process for immigrants to inciting behavior change through gamification. But what does service design even mean?

First introduced as a design discipline at Germany’s Köln International School of Design in 1991, this emerging field derives its methods and tools from different disciplines, like ethnography and interaction design. One important service design tool is the user (or customer) journey map, which visualizes the path of an end-to-end customer experience, from the initial contact to transaction to long-term engagement.

Service design can be defined as 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 service provider and customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants, so that the service is user-friendly, competitive, and relevant to the customers.

This field’s objective and frame of mind just might have the potential to transform not only how forward-looking businesses deliver quality customer experiences, but also to disrupt how governments define their relationships with residents and the services they deliver.