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Frequently Asked Questions
These common questions about service design and their short answers are taken from the book Service Design: From Insight to Implementation. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.
- Is service design just customer experience, user experience, or interaction design?
No. They are close cousins to service design, but they are not the same, although work in both customer experience and user experience forms part of service design’s remit. We often use the term “user” instead of “customer” in the book, sometimes interchangeably, but sometimes because there are contexts in which a service user might not be a customer or because a service user might also be a service provider (such as a teacher or a nurse). Some projects lend themselves to different language—customers, partners, clients, patients—depending on the project context. Interaction and user experience design are often understood as design for screen-based interactions, but service design covers a broader range of channels than this. Some projects have a strong digital component, of course, so interaction and user experience design have an important part to play, but so do product design, marketing, graphic design, and business and change management.
- Is service design “design thinking”?
Service design does, ideally, work at the strategic business level, connecting business propositions with the details of how they will be delivered. It also champions the idea of designing with people and not just for them (see Chapter 3). This may mean the use of terms such as “co-production” or methods that include multiple stakeholders within an organization, such as management and frontline staff. We see service design as distinct from design thinking in that it is also about doing design and implementation. It also makes use of designers’ abilities to visualize and make abstract ideas tangible.
- Why are there so many case studies from live|work?
The most obvious answer to this question is that Ben and Lavrans are co-founders of live|work and thus have access to these projects from their own professional experience. The less obvious reason is that many service design projects are about innovation. The results of these projects filter into the public domain through new services or improvements to existing ones, but many companies want to keep their internal activities confidential. On the one hand, this is a good sign that service design adds real value to businesses (see Chapter 8). On the other hand, finding examples not covered by nondisclosure agreements is difficult. This is also the reason why there are few images of behind-the-scenes, in-process project work in the book.
- You do not mention [insert your favorite method here]. Why not?
We cover many practical methods in Chapter 4, but due to space considerations we left out several methods that are common to all forms of design, concentrating instead on those specific to service design.
- Where are your references and sources?
We have provided footnotes for the key references in the book, where appropriate, but we did not want to turn the book into an academic text. That is not to say our arguments are not robust or rigorously researched. We have hundreds of papers and references in our personal libraries. If there is something we should have credited or that is plain wrong, contact us on the book’s website (staging.rm.gfolkdev.net/books/service-design/) and we will try to make amends, either on the site or in future editions. The Service Design Network (www.service-design-network.org) and Jeff Howard’s excellent sites—Service Design Books (www.servicedesignbooks.org) and Service Design Research (http://howardesign.com/exp/service/index.php)—are good places to find service design resources.
- What is the best way to convince management to spend money on service design?
This is the million-dollar question. In Chapter 8 we discuss strategies for measuring the return on investment in service design and how to think about measurement not just in terms of profits but also by considering other metrics in the triple bottom line of economic, social, and ecological benefits.
- Are you saying that service design can do everything?
Service design is both broad and deep and necessarily covers many areas and disciplines, but as we argue in Chapter 9, we are not design superheroes who can do it all. Service design works best when designers collaborate with professionals from the disciplines appropriate to the project in hand.