11 Principles of Great Service Design

Megan Cattley


21 February 2022

Service design is all about tailoring a service to the needs of the user and customer. It may be used to improve an existing service or to build a new one from the ground up.

In our previous article we spoke all about “what is service design”, now you know what it is. but what does service design look like and how do you create a successful project? We believe the following principles are key:


1. Set clear objectives, purpose and actionable metrics

Consider the goals or vision of the service in the future, then work back to define actionable metrics that will help your organisation measure effectiveness. This not only creates clear alignment on objectives but setting actionable metrics can also support decision making. Set aside time and define the process for gathering feedback, reviewing metrics and sharing insights with the team.


2. Consider the scale

Services can be large and complex, often spanning multiple channels and touchpoints. We recognise there can be instances where you can’t impact every part of the service. We like to start by mapping the entire journey and then focusing on specific areas of improvement. Looking at smaller experiences within the wider service can help to foster a service design mentality and demonstrate the benefits.


3 .Define and deliver value

When developing a new service or iterating on an existing service, it should be based on real user demand and driven by the value it can provide them. Similarly, services should be developed to create efficiency and effectiveness within organisational processes.


4. Focus on your user(s)

Understanding your user and gaining their input is key to success regardless of the industry you’re in. Gather insights from users to understand their goals and motivations, behaviours, interactions and pain points. This will support creating an experience tailored to user wants and needs as well as identifying opportunities. Tools such as empathy mapping, personas and journey maps can be used to create an aligned understanding across teams and support maintaining a user-centred focus within the organisation.


5. Learn from stakeholders and teams involved

Gain insights from the people closest to the service. We suggest nominating representatives from teams which are involved in different stages of the service as well as those who impact decision making. This can include conducting discovery workshops or one-on-one interviews. Background materials such as staff manuals, customer quick-start guides or completing a service walk-through can also be useful ways to gather contextual information.


6. Foster an open and honest environment to contribute

It’s important that all nominated representatives are encouraged to participate and be open with feedback regardless of their role or seniority. External facilitation from an agency can help support impartiality and give all stakeholders an equal voice.


7. Be collaborative

Collaboration is a key component of service design. We involve chosen representatives in contributing to and reviewing developments at each stage. Collective will, interest and knowledge across teams is also integral to facilitating change within organisational processes and for successful implementation. Co-creation workshops can also be used to invite customers into the process and be part of designing a new or updated product/service.


8. Keep in mind the business case

Services should be developed in alignment with a clear business case to ensure it is not only possible but makes good business sense. Whilst it is integral to understand and define business requirements and limitations, internal opinions and beliefs should not dictate the service or product and decision making should be user-focused. Personas are one tool that can support gaining a deep understanding of users and their needs, wants and motivations to guide decision making.


9. Consistently refer back to the wider service landscape

Service design has a much broader scope than other design disciplines, taking a unified approach to each component that makes up a service. Therefore it is important to consistently keep in mind the wider context in which a service takes place. Service blueprints are an effective way of mapping the entire service process, outlining what is ‘front stage’ (visible to the user) and people, systems and processes backstage (invisible to the user) which are needed to make the service work. Service blueprints can be used to map the current service experience and also to map the future state.


10. Tailor use of Service design tools

There are many methods and tools available to take advantage of. It is important to take a strategic approach to the project and define which will provide most value.


11. Measure results and iterate

Services should be first prototyped and an MVP delivered before being rolled out in full to gain vital user feedback on improvements. Change should then be ongoing, with no fixed finish line for improving services and experiences. Once the service has been designed and implemented it is best practice to continually learn, optimise and iterate. We recommend arranging regular reviews aimed at finding new opportunities or identifying pain points.


“When creating a new or updated service or an element of it, it is important to put in place onboarding and support processes for both internal teams and users. Consider what training may be needed to empower employees and what support is needed for existing and new users.”


Want to learn more? 

You can dig deeper into service design and the benefits it can have on your business in our free guide. Within this  we cover:

  • Who should care about service design?
  • Benefits of service design
  • Service design principles
  • Service design in practice


Download the guide here


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