Chapter 2. What Is Service Design?

What Service Design Isn’t

Even in closely related fields, there is confusion about what service design should and can do. So here are a few things which service design certainly is not:1

It is not simply aesthetics or “putting lipstick on a pig”

The aesthetics of a service are not unimportant, but they are not the primary focus of service design. Service designers are much more concerned with whether a service works, whether it fulfills a need and creates value, than with the details of what it looks or sounds like. The aesthetics can be a part of those questions, but only a part.

Similarly, service design does not only address superficial, “cosmetic” aspects of services—the frontend, or the usability. In fact, service design looks not just at how a service is experienced, but also how it is delivered and even whether it should exist. It almost always goes far beyond the visible, to challenge and reshape everything from operations to the business model.

It is not simply “customer service”

“Customer service”—the cliché in stock photos is a toothsome model with a headset—could be the subject of a service design project. We could look at how hotline specialists fulfill customer needs, how they fit into the structures of their organization, what technology they use to help customers, and how they create value for the organization. But we would also ask ourselves how the company’s offering might be better delivered to make their task unnecessary ...

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