Pia Betton on Service Design


I attended an excellent talk by Pia Betton on service design, which according to Wikipedia is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers. Here are my notes.

Pia started with an example from the Danish e-Government page offerings to her. Through a few buttons she can access things like digital mail (e.g. payslips as a public sector employee), data (including health data), finance (e.g. taxes), and benefits. Through the page she can even create a will in digital form

She stressed the need to focus on the user, through an example of the German Helios large health care provider. Instead of farming it out to a web designer, they looked at the customer journey: prevention, hospitalization, and rehabilitation. In a mixed methods research they looked at data, employed focus groups, and talked to patients within hospitals. The key insight was the need to build a relationship with patients based on trust.

Change started with their logo, which changed from the Rod of Asclepius into a handshake. They then aimed on providing human appearance, evoking positive emotions, and making people curious. In the end they redesigned their web site around just five entry points.

What is service design?

From the definition of design Pia stressed that design is a process, which requires cooperation rather than isolated decisions, and that its outcomes should be relevant in peoples’ daily lives. Good design centers around three powerful principles: focusing on the user, understanding the real problem, and reducing complexity. It creates new experiences and enhances life quality. Service design includes the planning and organising of people, infrastructure, and communication.

Service design is based on a map, organized around phases, scenarios, emotions (good and bad experiences), pain points (what needs to change), and touch points (digital and non digital). The map starts with discovery (identifying the problem through quantitative and qualitative research), ideation (dreaming the ideal state), prototyping (simulating the desired state through exercises and videos), and testing (through iterations of built prototype).

Service design is a non-linear process looking at both context and experience. Importantly, those practicing service design should invest in knowing their audience, tackling organizational challenges (e.g. through sponsors and ambassadors), collaborate across functions (including users, IT, administration), prototyping over Powerpoint.

During a Q&A session Pia recommended that in less structured organizations, rather than conducting large extensive studies, one should start small with quick wins, communicating the results, and celebrating victories.

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Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2019 8:00 pm

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