5 min read

Service Design: Build a Complete Consumer Experience

In today’s market, it’s no longer good enough to simply provide a complete product or even a complete service. Customers want more than just what they’re buying, they want enchanting experiences, something that Service Design can offer.

The pandemic and social isolation have forced people and companies into the digital deep end. Not only in terms of social networks but apps, food delivery, relationships, education, exercise, and even medical appointments. All these changes have impacted Service Design. 

Everyone was forced to change their habits, and quickly adapt to this digital reality. Organizations understood this and have, for the most part, embraced these new digital consumers, full of uncertainties and insecurities.

Services were reimagined, streamlined, and simplified for digital markets. Bigger buttons, more vibrant colors, straightforward shopping journeys… All our everyday actions have been redesigned – or at least they should have been. Read on to understand where Service Design comes into play!

Service design and the new buying journey

The massive migration to digital has established new habits and new forms of consumption. Technology, which previously might not necessarily be included in this journey, has become the key to connecting companies and customers.

In this sense, the service journey is made up of a series of contact points that together make up the user experience. Service Design is the strategy that will be used to create a complete consumer experience.

Designing this experience is definitely not a simple task. It goes beyond simply marketing your product or service. 

The offer itself is still important, but the objective here is not just the sale. Companies are expected to deliver more than just a product. Customer relations and service are all-inclusive within a Service Design strategy.

The Service Design strategy is staked on making your entire purchase journey satisfying, from engaging and retaining your customers to generating conversations.

How to apply Service Design?

Regardless if your company sells products or services, to apply Service Design you need to rethink the entire process of developing customer relations, and continue improving it, continuously.

Consumer habits, tastes, and priorities are constantly changing. That’s why Service Design is always ongoing, to maintain quality across all points of contact.

The objective of Service Design is to bring quality and satisfaction to customer relations.

This process includes several aspects: pleasant service, security, accurate information, and trust. Don’t forget that you still have to deliver a quality product. All this to achieve customer loyalty.

Let’s start at the beginning. The first thing you need to understand to apply Service Design is that products and services are not the same thing.

Products are tangible: you see them, touch them, define their limits. Services, not so much. 

Here’s a simple example:


A smartphone

Before purchase: The customer goes to a store looking for a device. They can see it up close and test its functionality. Even if they don’t go to a physical store, they can still watch videos online and read reviews. But the idea here is that when you have a product in hand, you can see all of its aspects. You might not understand all the science behind how it works, but all the elements that you can interact with and affect your experience are available to you immediately.


Telephone Service Provider

Before purchase: You aren’t allowed to test out a company’s cell service first. You can read reviews online to see what people think, but regardless of how much information you have, the entire service happens out of sight. All aspects of the service are not in plain view.

The main difference is that there is no way to fully assess the quality of a service before purchasing it. Services are mediated by people and this contact is subject to numerous variations that the provider needs to analyze and manage.

When we talk about services, we are talking about performance. The value of the service is in its good execution. It is the provider’s job to ensure that the planning behind the service reaches the user efficiently.

Points of Contact

Points of contact are moments when the user and the provider meet in the course of a service experience.

This interaction takes place through channels, which are used only when contact occurs. These channels can be physical – such as an airport check-in desk – or virtual – such as a website or application.

Why is this so important? Because the concrete events that take place at each point of contact are what builds the user’s understanding of that service. Here, even the small details matter. 

From touchpoints to service experience

For the user, the service experience is more than the sum of its touchpoints. The transition from one point to another is essential for the whole experience. How they connect is just as important as the individual touchpoints. 

When customers use a service, they don’t remember each contact point in a fragmented way but rather how they felt throughout the process.

When one of the parts or transitions doesn’t work, the user doesn’t think “oh, at least almost everything worked” – they will remember how frustrated that service left them. 

Large companies should be extra careful! 

Planning these transitions well is even more difficult for larger organizations. They usually have more sectors and employees than smaller companies. It’s in the communication back and forth between areas where quality, time, and accuracy are lost. 

Design Thinking and Service Design

More than ever, it is the consumer who determines the success or failure of a business – and their experience is a decisive factor.

In this scenario, Design Thinking and Service Design can work together. 

1 – Design Thinking can help you develop more accurate questions about complex problems.

2 – DT provides an understanding of these questions and identifies the most appropriate and aligned responses.

3 – Based on these answers, Service Design develops the best solutions for users, building a more user-focused journey.

The most important thing to take away from this interaction is that Design Thinking is based completely around user-centrism and empathy. If you’re looking to design a new SOP for your services, DT can shine a light on the path that’ll take you there.

Service Design and User Experience Design: what’s the difference?

The scope of Service Design is initially difficult to understand. It has so much in common with other user-centric disciplines that the dividing line between one and the other can be difficult to find.

Service Design and UX Design are complementary. So complementary that they often get mistaken for one another.

Service Design

  • Service design Maps out the entirety of the customer interaction scenario: fully understanding the service proposal.
  • It defines design issues at the macro and micro levels, capturing the perspectives of everyone involved: mapping the service and identifying every stakeholder’s needs — both customers and service providers.
  • More service-oriented: co-creating possible solutions and improvements, collaborating with stakeholders.
  • Identifies what improvements are possible in each point of contact with the customer: prototyping and testing new service experiences with real customers and employees

UX Design

  • UX is a business vision, a conviction. The search for maximum synergy at all points of contact in a company in order to collaborate towards business objectives.
  • Building the most fluid experience during the end-user interaction journey with a company’s products and services.
  • Pillars: usability, value perception, efficiency in the execution of tasks.
  • Focused on how the final design will look: reduce friction so that the user achieves their goals in the simplest way possible.
  • Interface or architectural solution information: the aim is to deliver a “usable” system, whether in a physical or digital environment.

Today, many UX designers are trained in Service Design, a relatively new course. Due to its unique perspective on delivering a complete experience and maintaining customer satisfaction throughout each touchpoint, Service Design has become an important complement for UX Designers.

The First Step is Always the Most Difficult

Service Design is fundamental for companies with complex structures. The smartest thing you can do when facing a difficult challenge, like say overhauling your services, the best thing to do is seek specialized help.

Many startups and specialized consultancies have extensive experience in developing simpler and more efficient service experiences. Here at MJV, we have experience in Design Thinking, UX/UI, and all user journey methodologies. If you’re thinking about implementing a Service Design process in your company, why not have a chat with us?