Service Design Conference Reflections

We went to the UK Service Design Network conference in London last week eager to hear about the latest innovations in service design and experience design.

There were some great talks on work done with TfL, RBS and Virgin Media along with programmes running within the Government Digital Service and Policy Lab.

Various thoughts struck us including…

…how a measure of success is around independent use of a service.  To enable users to access the service without recourse to assistance is an interesting objective.  Perhaps what is key in this, which one speaker spoke about very clearly, was that good service was about transitions not touchpoints. We’ve spoken about this before in the context of transport services – the service fails are usually at the interaction between different organisations/operators.

…improving services is often part of a change process.  So it is OK to be pragmatic and take little steps towards the end goal.  But what is key that, within a design & client team, thinking about users is everyones responsibility.  Someone might champion it but everyone should come with that way of thinking into the process.

…there is clearly more influence from the availability of big data.  But the kind of analysis one can do on this doesn’t always answer the why question.  So there remains value in the ethnographic design research methods that we deploy. The strength comes from using the two in synchronisation.

…there were a couple of great talks about the value of prototyping. Early and fast. We’ve always been great believers in this…you might have read about some of our recent tests at the V&A with new maps and covering up the existing maps (#VAMloseyourself).


…finally, there still seems to be an interesting level of variation in what is defined as a service. There were talks about changing how a product is offered to something as a service; there were talks about looking at the whole customer service provision; there were talks about looking at digital information along with physical spaces and operational processes to deliver an holistic experience.



David Watts

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