Chances are whatever type of product or service you offer, you want your customers to have a great experience with it. But how do you get there? How do you ensure a positive user experience? According to Ruby User Experience Manager Terri Haswell, service design makes all the difference. We asked Terri to share a little about the philosophy and application of service design.
Tell us about yourself and what you do here at Ruby.
I love the design challenge that complex systems bring! I’ve been lucky enough to work as a UX designer in health care research, public relations, and finance. First and foremost at Ruby, I strive to help elevate our digital products to the level of our legendary receptionist service! I lead a small team that focuses on designing customer-facing sites, apps, and the internal systems used by our receptionists and Customer Happiness team. Our service design approach is human-centered, meaning we keep people in mind and involved. We believe in radical collaboration and bring diverse groups of people together in ideation workshops, design reviews, and user feedback sessions to discover opportunities, solve problems, validate our work, and understand the big picture from both our customer’s perspective, and the work each Ruby team needs to do to deliver an amazing experience.
Let’s start with the basics. What is service design?
Service design is recognizing and understanding your customer’s journey, and in each step of that journey, thinking about what you as an organization need to do to support that step. Imagine two coffee shops next to each other—they’re identical in most respects and their prices are the same, but one remembers you like extra sugar, so you go there for your morning coffee. How does the service design coffee shop support their staff in a way that allows them to make that human connection? It could be as simple as making sure beans are premeasured because they recognize that during their busy time that task could take time away from connecting with customers. That’s the essence of service design: considering different touchpoints, and finding ways to elevate those experiences.
What tools do you use in the service design process?
One of the most important tools we use is the service blueprint. A service blueprint is a design tool that shows how a given service is constructed. It connects the step-by-step customer journey to all of the backstage people and processes involved at each point in that journey. Using a service blueprint to approach a problem or opportunity allows you consider users and their needs first, plan holistically, and work in an iterative way between steps and tools.
How does a service blueprint help with project planning?
A blueprint maps out all the backstage activities that need to happen for the user experience to be a success. It highlights potential trouble spots in service delivery and guides us in assigning resources. When timelines or resources change, a blueprint allows us to discuss the impact of adjusting project scope and phased implementation. It’s also a great way to align the needs and wishes of stakeholders.
It sounds like a very creative process!
Absolutely! It enables us to create a visual map of our customer’s journey. By capturing all the various interconnecting processes that support the journey in one place, the service blueprint can help prompt other ideas and creative connections we may not have thought of otherwise. It’s also a great analytical tool. By systematically tracking the customer journey, we reveal where real value is created and where new opportunities could be seized.
Do you have any suggestions for those interested in trying the service blueprint, or learning more about service design in general?
I’d recommend checking out Practical Service Design. It’s a fantastic website with lots of tools and information to help you get started, including a Practical Blueprinting Guide that you can download for free. Whether you’re designing a new service or process or improving an existing one, a service blueprint can help you make the most of every touchpoint, giving you an end result truly user-friendly! I’m also a big fan of Service Design: From Insight to Implementation by Andy Polaine, and This is Service Design Thinking by Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider.
Many thanks to Terri for sharing her service design wisdom!