Interviews with Boris Divjak, Strategic Designer at Unboxed; Dennis Hambeukers, Strategic Design Consultant at Zuiderlicht; Marc Stickdorn, Co-Founder & CEO of More Than Metrics; Jamin Hegeman, VP, Head of Design, Financial Services at Capital One; Timo Patiala, Commercial Director and Partner at Hellon London
Article by Thomas Brandenburg
“The experience is the tip of the iceberg, it must be supported by the organisation’s culture and vision that influence operational processes on all levels.” –Boris Divjak
What are the key ingredients necessary in delivering an exceptional end-to-end service experience at scale? How do service designers help?
Boris Divjak: All the pieces must fit well together. The experience is the tip of the iceberg, it must be supported by the organisation’s culture and vision that influence operational processes on all levels. Quick feedback loops to learn and improve are key as well.
Dennis Hambeukers: Tools and methods of service design help to constantly slip into the shoes of users, co-create between departments, and iteratively develop and improve solutions. What is essential for this is budget, time and money, for the core service design team as well as the extended project team to be able to really do service design on a sustainable basis.
In the end it’s all about the people: employee engagement and continuous stakeholder feedback loops. New services mostly involve change for people. The sustainable success of the service depends on people’s willingness to change which keeps on changing when circumstances change and new insights emerge.
People have to work with the right mindset and keep an open communication line with all stakeholders is a key part of that: not just the end users, but all of them. One of the ways service designers can help is by making things visible and concrete. By doing that they can create a platform for people to come together and communicate on the same level.
Jamin Hegeman: Service design tools like journey maps, vision stories, and service blueprints, are key to foster alignment and set direction. However, to deliver, teams have to be organized around the end-to-end experience, and they need experience management processes to ensure the connect between the intent and the iteration and course changes that take place during execution.
Service designers play multiple roles, from understanding the customer, setting vision, helping create the experience management processes, to executing various touchpoints.
Marc Stickdorn: Service designers are experts on facilitating service design projects, but there are mostly not experts on specific subject matters—and they don’t need to be. They can help to establish service design (or however your organisation calls what we’re doing) as a common language within the organisation connecting various departments and disciplines.
Timo Patiala: Delivering exceptional service experience throughout the journey requires a holistic approach to customer experience. It means that the company needs to understand all the touchpoints where they interact with the client, whether they are social, spatial or digital and provide equally good experiences through all of them.
This is where many stumble, they might provide fantastic digital experiences as they have focused so much on one outlet but then when the same customer experiences a social or spatial interaction and it doesn’t match the expectation from the previous experience, the overall customer experience actually suffers. In short, look at customer experience holistically and this one of the areas where Hellons service designers helps our clients.
“Being Agile is key to dealing with the complex challenges in the fast pace we are facing them today. And with Agile I don’t mean following a method like Scrum and sticking to it no matter what, but honoring the principles from the Agile Manifesto.” —Dennis Hambeukers
“Make sure your organization understands the end-to-end experience and align to that. Define key moments in plain language that can remain unchanged as the experience evolves. This will ensure you don’t have to change the organization every time you innovate.” —Jamin Hegeman
How should an organizational structure be adaptive or change to successfully deliver new services with speed and scale?
Boris Divjak: Quick communication and open access to information is crucial to learn and improve quickly. Flatter structure can help. Also more open use of technology tools to enable easier communication (Slack, Google Drive, etc.). Putting people in temporary cross-silo, multi-disciplinary teams can greatly enhance communication between different departments.
Dennis Hambeukers: Being Agile is key to dealing with the complex challenges in the fast pace we are facing them today. And with Agile I don’t mean following a method like Scrum and sticking to it no matter what, but honoring the principles from the Agile Manifesto.
In order for organizations to be more effective and efficient they have to become more humane. They have to challenge people to step over the boundaries of their departments and roles and give them the freedom to do so. Incentives have to be redesigned to honor experimenting and learning instead of just focussing on time and money.
Jamin Hegeman: Understanding the end-to-end experience and aligning to that as an organization is important. Defining key moments in plain language that can remain unchanged as the experience evolves. This ensures that the organization need not change every time it needs to innovate.
Marc Stickdorn: The biggest hurdle to bring service design into large organisations, it is to break down organisational silos. Usually, teams or departments are measured by certain KPIs and these ones often also drive the individual perception of what is important and what not—what is important stays on the individual agenda, what’s not important vanishes over time.
Beside budget (time and money) for service design and management buy-in (e.g. fostering cross-departmental co-creation and enabling access to users and front-line employees), including service design into KPI and personal incentive schemes is vital.
Timo Patiala: The structure of the organization itself is perhaps not the main inhibitor for delivering new services, but the rather the culture of doing things. For a company to be able to embrace rapid customer centric development it needs to be able to let go of rigid delivery models as well as the culture of honing a service or a product internally until its “ready” to be launched.
“Start small with several small “stealth” projects. Give them boring titles (avoid words like design, innovation, agile, etc.) and use them to adapt the service design process, tools, methods, and language to your own organisation. Prove that this approach works within your organisational structures, processes, and culture by measure the impact. Only then start communication and scaling service design.” —Marc Stickdorn
“The internal stakeholder buy in is so important that I can’t stress it enough. If we just deliver project after project but no actual learning is happening within our clients’ organizations the scaling of the discipline and wider adoption will not happen. It’s just another project.” —Timo Patiala
What is a key lesson(s) you learned over the years in strategy and design to deliver scalable services?
Boris Divjak: Consider the employee side of things—what do you need to bring new employees on board, and how can you make that process easier. Make sure you hire the right people, that will fit the culture and spread the service vision well. Employing digital is obviously useful when scaling, but not the only way and often isn’t implemented correctly…Never forget the people that work there!
Dennis Hambeukers: Scaling service design for me is about the little things. Service design might seem easy at first. The methods and principles are not difficult to understand, however, success is about the small details you pick up with experience.
Service design is not about tools, methods and diagrams, but about moving people. I believe that if you scale service design without an understanding of the little things, the ways you can use the service design tools to move people, you will not reach the full potential of service design and will be disappointed with its results.
Jamin Hegeman: Be patient. Services are complex. When we start looking at them holistically, we see a lot of opportunity for change. It can be overwhelming. Think big, but start small. Know where you are going before you start sprinting. If you don’t know how your work impacts the big picture, stop. If you only spend your time understanding and defining the big picture without making anything you should start there. Big things happen via small efforts over time.
Marc Stickdorn: Start small with several small “stealth” projects. Give them boring titles (avoid words like design, innovation, agile, etc.) and use them to adapt the service design process, tools, methods, and language to your own organisation. Prove that this approach works within your organisational structures, processes, and culture by measure the impact. Only then start communication and scaling service design.
Timo Patiala: This is a bit of a loaded question as it depends on the point of view of scaling, but basically for service design as an approach to take root and flourish in client organizations, there needs to be an internal primus motor, an ambassador at the top level that understands what the aims are and why customer centricity is important.
The internal stakeholder buy in is so important that I can’t stress it enough. If we just deliver project after project but no actual learning is happening within our clients’ organizations the scaling of the discipline and wider adoption will not happen. It’s just another project.
“ I’m not sure which would be the most successful, but some examples would be Capital One (through purchase of Adaptive Path), IBM (through hiring a huge number of designers in recent years), obviously GDS in London and others.” –Boris Divjak
Are there any organizations that come to mind that are successful at incorporating service design into their process and executing it at scale?
Boris Divjak: There have been a number of initiatives in recent years. I’m not sure which would be the most successful, but some examples would be Capital One (through purchase of Adaptive Path), IBM (through hiring a huge number of designers in recent years), obviously GDS in London and others. I’m also particularly interested in social innovation projects, but couldn’t really think of any single big organisation…it seems to mostly be focused around smaller projects.
Dennis Hambeukers: Organizations that successfully deliver a sustainable service are successful at incorporating service design. Whether this is textbook service design or not does not matter. Whether you stumbled upon the right relevant service or followed an ideal service design process is not the measure of success.
On the other hand, following the service design method to the letter does not guarantee a successful service. I imagine a lot of organizations have a process in place that delivers successful services and don’t even call it service design.
Jamin Hegeman: Besides Capital One? Honestly, most organizations are still wrapping their heads around the basics. Talking to your customers and making decisions based on insights is generally a good start. Design isn’t just about making things pretty.
Service design is some pretty advanced stuff. For it to be really incorporated into an organization it requires broad understanding and integration into management practices. That’s not an area of expertise for most designers. Service design needs other disciplines to buy in before it can truly be scaled.
Marc Stickdorn: We’ve built our own startup on the principles of service design and do service design every day. Of course, this is rather easy as a small software company serving the service design community, but also challenging as we have a very competent audience.
For large multi-nationals, Deutsche Telekom is a good example.
For public services, of course, Government Digital Service in the UK is a leading example and the wider application of service design within the UK government in general. But also, rather new initiatives, like the Ministry of Happiness in Dubai seems very promising.
Timo Patiala: Many companies are embracing Service Design or Design Thinking these days, we see consolidation within the industry but also a shift where traditional clients do not just want agencies to deliver projects, they want to learn how to do it themselves and skill up their internal teams. Bank of Ireland, Tekes, Kone and Finnair from Hellons clients in the UK and Finland are doing a pretty good job at this.
“External impact of services can be measured using tools like Net Promoter Scores or other experience grading systems…Are employees more engaged? . . . Measuring things is all about the questions you ask, but I imagine that an Employee Satisfaction Index might work in this regard.” —Dennis Hambeukers
What are the most useful framework(s) for measuring impact of the design of services?
Boris Divjak: It depends on what stage the service is in. For an established service, a randomised controlled trial is still the best way to really prove the impact. I really like Nesta’s Standards of Evidence framework, which explains how services at the start of their journey can start evidencing their impact.
Dennis Hambeukers: External impact of services can be measured using tools like Net Promoter Scores or other experience grading systems. But what’s equally important in the long run is the internal impact of the service design method. Are employees more engaged? Are they willing to take more risks? Are they collaborating more? How much did people learn? These things are hard to quantify but can be felt throughout the organization. If service design is applied successfully magical things happen in the areas of motivation, inspiration and sense of purpose. Measuring things is all about the questions you ask, but I imagine that an Employee Satisfaction Index might work in this regard.
Jamin Hegeman: Mapping metrics and impact to the customer journey is a great start. As I talked about at the Service Design Network conference in Madrid, there’s a great opportunity for developing tools around experience management, which should include mapping and measuring impact across the experience.
Marc Stickdorn: It depends on the project. You could, for example, measure KPIs like user, customer, or employee satisfaction, process duration, conversion, costs, revenues, loyalty, retention, churn, etc. There’s no framework that fits all project, so you need to define KPIs before you start a project. Measure the baseline. Then measure during live prototypes, pilots, implementation and months after launch during regular business. What’s the effect? You can calculate the ROI of service design for single projects, but not for service design as an approach in general. Btw, this is similar to other practices: Try to measure the ROI of Accounting or Management in general… 😀
Timo Patiala: Measuring impact for a SD project is a topic that comes up with almost every client and rightfully so. That being said, every client and their service are different and they have different motivations for wanting to utilise Service Design.
My philosophy is to find the framework and KPI´s that fit the client and the project at hand which gives a realistic view to both parties about the desired outcomes. Sure, it’s simple to measure baseline (existing service) to the new design of the service (or certain elements of it) or purely archaic measurements like NPS but I prefer to tailor the measurement with each client. Artificial Intelligence is going to be a game changer; we are already experimenting with our clients around the capabilities of our Hellon AI and the prioritisation CX investments.
“It’s time for service designers to start thinking more thoroughly about the future outcomes of their work, and how they can provide evidence for that early on.” —Boris Divjak
Any final thoughts you would like to share on making new services bigger, stronger, faster, and better?
Boris Divjak: I think there’s a need to bring service design capabilities in-house even more. And it’s also time for service designers to start thinking more thoroughly about the future outcomes of their work, and how they can provide evidence for that early on.
Marc Stickdorn: Organisations that apply service design in a larger context need to find ways how to include service design in their structures, processes, and culture, without losing the power of inter-disciplinary co-creation and the iterative process.
I sometimes see organisations squeezing design processes into rigid structures with clear hand-overs between departments with limited responsibilities. This worries me. It’s like planning an entire “agile” software development project with a Gantt-chart – and then sticking to the plan.