Events Service design

Service Design Drinks 5: Touch-point workshops and what role does the service designer play in implementation?

The talks couldn’t have been more different at this weeks service design drinks. Stephen Cox, Customer Experience Manager at Westpac opened the night with a presentation on touch-point workshops. Janna DeVylder from Meld Studios invited the audience to ponder whether the service designer has a role to play in the execution of projects. The first was a talk around design education, the second a discussion about design implementation.

Stephen Cox’s workshop is taken from At-One and a more detailed description of it is available at Participants are asked to design an experience for a persona across a journey using a range of touch-points cards. To see if the freshly designed experience stacks up, participants then consider if it works with a different persona; and if the experience is still coherent if touch-points are removed.

Stephen’s team is responsible for shifting Westpac culture to be more customer centric. But it seems his team could also affect  the corporate culture itself. The sessions involve participants from different areas of the bank that may otherwise not get the chance to work together, let alone meet one another. The workshop sessions have participants design their products and services for touch-points they may not have traditionally considered to be in their remit, and to consider their output as existing within a broad range of experiences.

The next discussion asked whether the service designer should get their hands dirty in implementation. Janna DeVylder asked “How do you design for the implementation of service?“ It’s an interesting question that goes to the heart of a utilitarians view on user experience design itself—that its easy to conjure up the perfect solution when you don’t have to be responsible for rolling it out.

At first the audience seemed to be in some sort of consensus that a service designer should play a role in implementation and all that is needed for this to happen is a suitable metaphor to communicate what they are doing in the trenches, be that director or composer. As the discussion unfolded other considerations arose:

  • Is it just a matter of passing on appropriate tools to get the client to the next stage?
  • How do you work towards change management?
  • How do you make prototypes for service design?
  • How do you test concepts?

Having worked in implementing web projects I advocated that producers are needed—people that are responsible for the detail but who understand the vision. Some people thought that I was still riffing on the director metaphor, but I wasn’t. By the end of the discussion everyone agreed concept and implementation are two very different types of engagements.

The first presentation was about building design thinking in a corporate culture. The second was about the designer playing a role end to end. Advocates need to be built within organisations. Someone else is ultimately responsible for the products, services and experiences that we may be designing. They are the ones who need to take ownership of the ideas as they are the best placed in seeing them through. I don’t think that concepts don’t get implemented because a designer isn’t there to realise their vision. Concepts don’t get implemented when they don’t have people championing their cause.

4 replies on “Service Design Drinks 5: Touch-point workshops and what role does the service designer play in implementation?”

Thanks for this Erietta!
I wasn’t there, so it’s good to read about the talks & discussions.
Agree that champions are needed – post-implementation too.

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