Last week saw our first ever Fjord Kitchen in Madrid, very overdue, as we had been threatening to do one for a year. It seemed that the pent up need for one exploded into a mass pileup of the great washed and unwashed of the Madrid design scene plus a lot of our most loved and valued customers.
The event was entitled A Service Design Manifesto for Change because everybody speaking felt the same need; for some kind of transformation in the local market and indeed across Europe and beyond. Inside Fjord we often toss around our terminology casually, sometimes without really thinking about whether our audience comprehends it. So it is worth taking a step back and discussing what it is we are trying to do and what we offer to our clients and the design community.
As I mentioned in my introduction to the evening we call these events kitchens because, basically, we love the opportunity to eat nice food, but also because we want the evening to feel like sitting around a kitchen table having interesting conversations with interesting people. Inviting the right guests is always the key to a good night and for our first kitchen we had three speakers who, each in their own particular way, are all key figures in the last two decades of our industry and the evolution of service design.
We started with our very own Shelley Evenson who as one of the founders of the Service Design Network has been instrumental in defining the discourse and setting out the terms and objectives of our practise. Following on was Pamela Mead, Director of User Experience at Telefonica, who is a powerful player in the Spanish design industry. Her real world perspective of trying to execute proper design inside a giant corporate service provider is illuminating and at times quite sobering for the idealists amongst us. We finished up perhaps where we started, with Gillian Crampton-Smith who as the founder of the legendary IVREA school and now as Leader of the Interaction Masters at IUAV in Venice has been shaping the minds of young designers for decades. Her graduates seem to all emerge as fully formed service designers and yet with the openness and intensity of untarnished youth.
What was most interesting in the talks was that none of our illustrious speakers exactly overlapped in their definitions of service design. This pointed to two things, 1) that we work in an expansive medium that can encompass many points of view and that 2) we are not mature enough yet as an industry to have a de facto narrative. Evidently this is both a strength and a weakness simultaneously. It means that we can stretch into almost any imaginable area of design, from interiors to devices to interfaces to processes and operations. It also means we are constantly having to reframe our offer to clients which can cause drag and frustration.
On the night, what we ended up addressing was how the Spanish market can reach maturity and move from the current state where companies still think about digital channels in a monolithic way and don’t understand the need to orchestrate an overall digital ecosystem. At best companies talk about user experience and most are still fixated on online marketing, very few understand what it takes to deliver a service across multiple touch points. If even a few of the important selection of decision makers who were in the audience rethink the way they want to engage with design and how they want to launch and maintain their services, then we can count the event as a great success. Video proof below…
For the event Shelley revisited her SDN co-founder Birgit Mager’s 10 service design basics an updated them for the context of 2013. They provide a wonderful and concise checklist for our discussions and work.
- Get as close to the experience as possible—then step back. Conduct different types of people-centered research to see the experience through everyone’s eyes. Emotions, timing, and context are key. Then abstract the findings into a model to make it tangible for everyone.
- Focus on benefits for everyone. Services are co-produced which means that everyone that participates in the service has a role in the outcome. Think about how both the participants and the provider see value from the experience (think business, design, and technology)
- Design for lasting relationships. Consider the entire relationship cycle from matchmaking through to true love. Remember that the sum of the experiences (the overall impression) is the brand for both providers and people.
- See the parts in the whole. Services are systems and the parts influence the whole experience. The systems include people, products, processes, places and performance.
- Provide evidence. Create a service interface with rich resources for interaction. Make the people, products, and places, people can interact with explicit by providing tangible evidence at every touchpoint.
- Design for experience. The choreography of resources for the experience is a major challenge in the Service Design process. Visualise the journey and blueprint the interactions among the components over time.
- Create living design languages. Service design languages are used to visualise, express, and choreograph the resources that mediate the service experience so that people can learn to ‘read’ what to do. Be open to improvisation.
- Make it personal. Experiences will always be unique, but find ways to model the customer’s experiences (with permission) to save time, effort, and to make them feel special.
- Consider the context. In service encounters the settings are different but the device is often personal. Even in the face of failure, if the service is delivering some level value and consistency people are forgiving. Model the service to make it context and device aware.
- Be enthusiastic. The national, corporate, and local culture and values have a major influence on the quality of the delivered service. People remember negative experiences but respond to positive interventions when breakdowns happen.