Continuing our journey through Design @ Your Service, the article below is a contribution from service thinker Luis Alt (founder of live|work in Brazil). Good read!
Take a look around. It is very likely that right now you are surrounded by objects that in some way or another make your life better and more pleasant. All those objects have been in some degree designed—some nicely, others not so much.
Now, if you start thinking about the way you interact with the world around you, you will notice one other common pattern: you access your life through services. Private services, governmental services, local services, global services, digital services, physical services. You use the world around through the services that somewhat are available to you. When you interact with a product, very often someone has put a lot of thought into figuring out beforehand how your experience should be when dealing with this object. Product and interaction designers take into consideration users desires and needs, materials and processes that are available for manufacturing the product and they run a series of anthropometric and ergonomic studies to come up with the final object. Everything is done in order to make sure that you will get the best experience possible when in contact with this product—which also makes it easier to sell it in the first place.
But let's take a look at the different services that we access. Who is behind the solutions we use on a daily basis? Who is thinking about our experience when we order something at a restaurant, don't receive a package at home or forget to pay a bill that never got to us in the first place? Unfortunately the answer is, in most cases, no one. We are using everyday services that have not been thought to our benefit as customers, but instead to be easy and, most of all, efficient to its providers. The business must run efficiently and it's up to the user to 'deal' with it.
Much has been said in marketing theories that we get to use products by interacting with a whole range of services that exist around it. If I want to use my phone, for instance, I have to buy it in a retail store, pay my monthly bills and then I'm ready to, well, use the device. We think the opposite. Service thinking teaches us that any product is just one mean to access a set of services (or a main service). Take the mobile phone, for instance: in the essence of everything is the service. The bill, the store, the mobile phone, etc. are just products or services that help me to communicate with others or access information through a connected network. In the core of everything, there is the service.
Now the really good question is, "What exactly should be designed in a service?" And our answer to that is: what shouldn't? Service designers have to take an important role in the new service order, given they are the ones with the capacity to navigate between the broad and strategic aspects of the service and to translate the business purpose into user journeys that are useful, usable and desirable, thinking on the overall experiences of clients and service providers that are connected throughout different touchpoints.
Those 'new' designers must be able to navigate in more specific work regarding the service, defining how every channel should behave and coordinating design work for the service to become real. That means making sure that graphic designers will come up with the proper communication for the service; interaction and web designers will think about the right website or mobile experience for the users; architects will design the space that better translate the business strategy; and so on.
And that's why service design is so interesting and exciting. You get to be on top of and make decisions that affect the whole user journey, from beginning to end, coming up with very strategic visions for the service, but also be responsible for very specific matters of the operation of the service. Just as a product design studio is responsible for creating the right plans for a product manufacturing, service designers must be the facilitators of the services, making sure clients and providers inputs are considered in the creation of the new service proposition and that businesses have a clear plan and stick to it in the implementation of the project so the designed service become real.
We believe that exciting times are coming for those who are willing to (re)think services. There's a large amount of work to be done and we are just in the beginning of a long revolution for access and not ownership as Tennyson mentioned in his first article. Now it is up to service designers to take the responsibility of defining how those services (and therefore the world we access daily) will be like.
Let's design services!