Service Design Thinks and Drinks 4: What is Service Design?

Service Design Thinks and Drinks/4: Service Design vis a vis Experience Design

If you have not been, Service Design Drinks is a casual meet-up, where guest speakers present and take questions from the audience. It’s held regularly at the Trinity Bar in Surry Hills. The fourth event was held on 18 May and was attended by 30 or so user experience designers, including a team from Different.

The last event was a panel discussion moderated by Damian Kernahan, from Proto Partners. The panellists were:

  • Opher Yom Tov, formally of Ideo, now working with BT
  • Rod Farmer, Co-founder and Director of Research, Mobile Experience
  • Susan Wolfe, Managing Director, Optimal Experience
  • Faruk Avdi, from the NSW Department of Education and Training

The opening question put to the panel was “What is service design?”

  • Opher Yom Tov: Weaving together discreet experiences in an ongoing relationship.
  • Rod Farmer: Meaningful value at the point of interaction.
  • Susan Wolfe: Thinking about the broader context. Experience design is service design.
  • Faruk Avdi: The ecosystem a product exists; experience design is a subset of service design.

Much of the early discussion veered around product design, defined as designing for the experience and the utility that it brings, and not focussing exclusively on the product itself.

A conversation followed about the importance of leadership and change management in service design projects. Several challenges were discussed:

  • How do you model relationships?
  • If the bar is always moving, how do you exceed the standard that has been set?
  • Companies do not measure people’s performance on delivering a whole service. What KPIs should be set to help put service initiatives into operation?

The final question put to the panel was, who’s doing it well? This was best answered by Ant from Different who said that the best service experiences are being had at the ma and pop stores. Everyone agreed; the challenge is getting big organisations behaving like small business. (Interestingly, Mark Pollard made the exact same analogy at a Social Media Club event when asked about the challenges businesses face in participating effectively in social media).

It was a lively discussion, where the panel conceded that service design is a fairly new term. It was interesting to see that the industry is still forming its opinions as to what service design really is, and how it differs to experience design and also interesting to see how the field of user experience is expanding and defining itself.

An edited version of this post first appeared on the blog Different UX

Postscript June 17, 2010

Audio of the event has been published on the Service Design Drinks blog:
http://servicedesigning.com.au/2010/06/17/service-design-thinks-drinks-4/

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