What is Service Design?

Service design is the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers. Service design may function as a way to inform changes to an existing service or create a new service entirely.

Principles of Service Design

  1. User-centred – users are the centre of consideration and are to be analysed through qualitative research. Here ‘Users’ are both, the organisation’s employees, as well as customers. Thus, service design considers not just the user/customer experience but also the interest of all the relevant people involved in the process.
  2. Co-creative – co-creative is essentially a combination of ‘Collaboration’ and ‘Iteration’. ‘Collaboration’ signifies the process of creation by all the contributors from different backgrounds. Whereas, ‘Iteration’ is used to define that service design is an iterative (continuous) process that’s ever-evolving to keep in-line with the changes in a business.
  3. Sequencing – dividing complex services of a customers journey into independent processes. This division of service is usually done logically, visually and rhythmically. Sequencing helps determine the timeline of a project, as it is important for the customer and helps in determining the outcome.For instance, if you have an e-commerce website selling products only in a particular region, it is important to highlight that the deliveries won’t ship internationally right at the start. This saves the customer’s time, and they won’t browse your website, as well as, you would also not need to analyse the journey of the customer who won’t purchase your product.
  4. Evidencing – visualising the service experiences and making them real. Simply put, what this means is that service is usually invisible or intangible whereas the products are tangible items. The idea of service design is to bind the tangible and intangible together so that the invisible becomes real.For example, if you run an organic cafe with all the ingredients being local produce, how would your customer know it is organic? The answer is easy, you let them know. Until you inform your customers about the source of your ingredients, it remains an intangible service for them because they have no idea what’s on their plate or how it differs from another cafe. Evidencing ensures that you’re providing your customers with a quality experience. Which, in turn, helps you build your brand image as an ‘organic’ cafe.
  5. Holistic – service design rests on the principle of combining tangible and intangible services. Here the context is important, as well as, taking the entire experience of the service into account. What this means is, every customer is different and as such, would take a different route to complete their journey.As a service designer, it is imperative to think about each aspect, and every perspective to make sure there are no loop-holes. That whichever path the customer takes the end goal remains the same.

Benefits of Service Design

  • Surfacing conflicts. Business models and service-design models are often in conflict because business models do not always align with the service that the organization delivers. Service design triggers thought and provides context around systems that need to be in place in order to adequately provide a service throughout the entire product’s life cycle (and in some cases, beyond).
  • Fostering hard conversations. Focused discussion on procedures and policies exposes weak links and misalignment and enable organizations to devise collaborative and cross-functional solutions.
  • Reducing redundancies with a bird’s-eye view. Mapping out the whole cycle of internal service processes gives companies a bird’s-eye view of its service ecosystem, whether within one large offering, or across multiple sub-offerings. This process helps pinpoint where duplicate efforts occur, likely causing employee frustration and wasted resources. Eliminating redundancies conserves energy, improves employees’ efficiency, and reduces costs.
  • Forming relationships. Service design helps align internal service provisions like roles, backstage actors, processes, and workflows to the equivalent frontstage personnel. To come back to our initial example, with service design, information provided to one agent should be available to all other agents who interact with the same customer.


Webtonic will help you create relevant and memorable experiences for your customers through effective service design.