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  • Writer's pictureMichal Jerzy

Growth of Service Design

Updated: Jun 7, 2021


Last month a UK based research network (DeSID), in collaboration with the Design Council released an insightful report summarising wide trends in service design internationally with specific focus on the UK market. The research shows that service design is a rapidly growing but new industry mostly comprising of both small organisations, founded relatively recently, and larger ones that acquired service design capabilities through agency mergers and acquisitions. More than half are located in Europe, with strong presence in the UK, Scandinavia, Netherlands and Germany. The larger agencies are changing the service design game as full-service digital and business systems providers.

The report analysis setup of service design agencies, as well as their operations, type of projects delivered for clients across various industries, used methodologies and tools, projects scope and innovative aspects of delivered work. The key sectors with strongest service design agency presence include education, public services, retail, finance & IT, manufacturing and transportation, digital and various marketing activities.

Service Design is a newer design discipline that has developed over the past decade as a hybrid, multidisciplinary approach combining the design of experiences, product and industrial design, branding and visual communication design, sociology and business strategy. In Scandinavia, Germany and the UK it is now widely used by businesses and in the public sector to design customer services.

There are different kinds of service design projects that provide business value through innovative approach. Service design may be used as a skilled contribution to address specific needs – with designers assigned to projects with defined deliverables. Service design may also be selected as a people-centered, creative and systematic process where designers are specifically chosen and valued by clients for the processes they use enhancing client innovation practices and developing service design capacity within client organisation. This second approach has been characteristic for the recent program I have managed for The Coca-Cola Company Global Business Services. The key focus was on the service design processes, capability development and educating about the business value of using customer journey mapping to design services and customer experiences, rather than only process optimisation and operational excellence methodology.

In the third category of projects researchers defined service design as a collaborative and people-centered mindset and a long term approach. Designers in this case impact long-term significant changes in client organisations and are engaged in redefining how client thinks, works and delivers services. In this cases designers support learning processes within organisations and design becomes a way of experimenting with new methodology and approaches.

Service Design is a practice of making services better through research, developing ideas and testing experiences. It is all about making services we deliver more useful, usable, efficient, effective and desirable. It is an iterative process.

What is Service Design? – Video introduction from British Design Council. Digital technologies are having a huge effect on the disruption and redesign of services. Service design methodology helps to take advantage and embrace impact of digital technologies.


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