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Who Uses Service Design?

   

Services are an important part of our daily lives. From filing our taxes to riding public transit, communicating within our organizations and using apps on our smart phones— we are almost constantly participating in a wide range of services.

There are many different kinds of services and they can vary greatly in complexity— as such, Service Design can be a broad and sometimes vague field.

The Interaction Design Foundation defines Service Design as what is it is:

a process where designers create sustainable solutions and optimal experiences for both customers in unique contexts and any service providers involved.

Interaction Design Foundation

And the Nielsen Norman Group defines Service Design by what it does:

Service design improves the experiences of both the user and employee by designing, aligning, and optimizing an organization’s operations to better support customer journeys.

Nielsen Norman Group

It’s one thing to read definitions and understand the concept of Service Design— but for whom and by whom is Service Design implemented? Let’s break down just three of the ways Service Design has been used to solve problems and help execute better services in real life.

Service Design for Citizens, by Government and Public Institutions

A printed prototype of an app made for a government service.

Public service systems are incredibly complex. They often involve the coordination of multiple private, government and non-government agencies, and must be delivered accurately and consistently to citizens who come from a wide range of backgrounds. The integration of service design in governments and public institutions is a huge opportunity to create more user-friendly and tech-integrated interactions with government. We use government agency websites, apps, social media, and physical offices to get information and complete tasks that are vital to our daily lives. We are doing things like paying utility bills, filing taxes, and requesting street repairs.

Creating efficient government services requires the ability to think about the larger service ecosystem

Creating efficient government services requires the ability to think about the larger service ecosystem, from interactions between federal, state, and city agencies, to private companies to citizens. It also requires empathy, and the ability to understand what individual citizens in varying situations are going through. Service design tools, like empathy maps, service blueprints, customer journeys, and personas can help make sense out of the chaos, and find pain points that need immediate repair.

To learn more, check out these government and non-profit organizations that are actively employing service design in their day to day work:

Service Design for Users, by Tech Companies

A man holding his smartphone and using a messaging application.

This is probably the most well-known application of Service Design, because it is so closely tied to product design. Service design methodologies and tools can be greatly beneficial in the development of tech services, and can fill the gap between users and rapidly developing technologies.

At Neuromagic, we were able to work with Sony Bank to make UX improvements to their foreign currency exchange app using service design methodologies. Creating personas and using Service Design Sprint tools to rapidly prototype and ideate resulted in verifiable results that could be adapted easily by the Sony Bank team. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the case study by clicking here.

Here are a few more examples Service Design in tech:

  • Ideation and prototyping of new digital products with a Service Design Sprint
  • Creating systems to facilitate coordination between product owners and stakeholders
  • Creating a new digital service based on analysis of customer journey and service blueprint

Service Design for Employees, by Large Corporations

A large stylish office for a big corporation.

A key part of service design is the facilitation of communication. In order for a service to function well for a user, there has to be clear communication between every stakeholder involved, including where the user doesn’t see— what we in service design call the “backstage.” At Neuromagic, we worked with Japanese tech giant Toshiba to help discover new ways to facilitate communication between vastly different departments. This leads to better execution of new service creation, that aligns with business and user goals. Check out this case study to learn more.

Building service blueprints, user journeys, and personas can help different teams empathize with one another, gain a better understanding of their respective roles, and clarify where miscommunications are occurring.

Building service blueprints, user journeys, and personas can help different teams empathize with one another, gain a better understanding of their respective roles, and clarify where miscommunications are occurring. Additionally, bringing teams to work face to face with one another in a Sprint or workshop setting can also increase humility and understanding. Oftentimes organizations are so siloed that individuals forget other teams are experiencing similar feelings and struggles.


Government, tech companies, and large corporate organizations are just three of the fields where Service Design is implemented globally. Hopefully this quick blog gave you a look into some of the places it can be applied. For more info on Service Design, check out our blog on What Makes the Service Design Sprint Different, and stay on the lookout for our Service Design Seminars, online and in Tokyo!

Elena Iwata

Digital Marketer
Originally from Philadelphia, PA, USA, Elena is passionate about storytelling and designing for equity. Her current focus is on content strategy and creation, from research, to writing and photography.