The ubiquitous service design

This post touches upon services, their design, and the presence and need of designed services in our daily lives. Here goes:

Simply put, Service Design implies the design of services. This emerging field of design is based on users, and their interaction with products and services. Here, design interventions can occur at any point in the journey of the user. It can be through concept of the very service, and then also through guiding design collaterals for the service conceptualized. Any service requires support from a host of design collaterals such as instructions on packaging, signage & way-finding systems, info-graphics and more. All products at the end of the day are meant to serve the user directly or indirectly.
Good design is seldom noticed; however poor design unfortunately is noticed with glaring attention. Most users take many services we use today for granted, and complain when their expectation is not met. Service design plays a vital role in the smooth running of a service system.
So what are services, how do we encounter them, how does design help this service eco-system?
We have services all around us- whether it’s a public policy or a can of coke from a vending machine; we encounter services daily and sometimes don’t even realize it. We often ignore or take for granted the convenience of everyday services me examples: public transport systems, pay phones, automated teller machines (ATMs) (to withdraw cash) and so on.  Services fulfill needs which could be anything – from getting health care at a hospital, cooking a meal using gas/electricity/cook book, checking our email using the all-encompassing internet or using our mobile phone to connect with our friends and the world. Consider life without telephone, electricity or the Internet.
atm-machine-621x414             public_telephone
It doesn’t need research to also confirm that a user will take action to fix a malfunction in a product or service that they use. To do this, they would then employ another service to action it. Service Design is required almost everywhere. In a designed system, a service designer would map the entire journey of the user, predict the possible outcomes and then draft the simplest design plan for the user, and finally implement that. The goal of any service’s design is to create a great experience for the user and hence to ensure continued use of the service. It is important to note that unlike a product (like a machine), a service appreciates in value by increased use. So it is in everyone’s best interest to create a long lasting service system.

Hardware + Software
Integrated product service system

Today, products are no longer isolated elements, but a network of different experiences and combinations. Take for example the case of iPod and iTunes online music store. In this case the concept plays with the idea of tangible and intangible objects that allow consumers maximum flexibility to make their own decision about how and when they want to use the service. The retail scenario can be tackled in a similar way. Retailers are faced with digitization of retail and face stiff competition from online retailers who offer discount, variety and the comfort of just a few clicks of a button. Each has their pros and cons, how service design can help the situation could be by combining the digital and analog world to use the best of both thus creating a smoother system of interaction and creating a great experience.