Setting the Stage with Service Design

It would be an understatement to say I dislike waiting in line. Given the choice between jockeying for position to board a train at Penn Station—or enjoying an interactive experience while standing in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad line at Disney—I know what I’d prefer.

By Dave Derby

In What the (bleep) is Service Design, I discuss the power of the emerging discipline Service Design, which reflects the next frontier of digital transformation. Service Design places the customer at the center of the entire journey—reimagining and interconnecting all digital and non-digital touchpoints. Design thinking, qualitative and quantitative research, and the right digital tools all come into play here. Below illustrates how you can start with low hanging fruit – e.g., existing digital technologies, data, and behavioral change – to make inroads quickly.

The Role of Frontstage and Backstage

In our Service Design approach for clients, we talk about “frontstage” and “backstage.” Let me explain. Picture yourself at a Broadway musical. You will be keenly aware of the actors, costumes, set design, and musicians – all part of the frontstage. Most audience members, however, don’t think about deeper backstage activities, like rehearsals, casting decisions, financial planning, and promotion – all essential contributors to what we see and hear onstage.

The sense of fluidity we experience within a Disney park occurs mostly frontstage, but it is enabled by digital technologies and other backstage capabilities. The digital platform and the smart use of location-aware data helps frontstage actors, such as park employees, deliver delightful, unexpected, and interactive experiences. Data from our magic bands unexpectedly lights up our names on digital kiosks, further enhancing our experience.

While effective Service Design requires both frontstage and backstage systems – you don’t always need a massive operational overhaul (rethinking the backstage) to begin making strides. The Disney example is a case in point.  Let’s consider another example. A few years ago, I helped an airline improve its in-flight passenger experience. We designed tools and experiences to empower flight attendants to use basic knowledge of traveler preferences, such as a passenger’s favorite magazine or beverage—or to create moments of unexpected personalized service based on frequent-flier milestones.

Though we designed digital tablet apps that pushed helpful customer-specific information to flight attendants, we recognized that the most critical aspect of the Service Design was how the onstage flight attendants actually used the information with passengers. We helped shift behaviors around the smart use of the data, such as identifying specific phrases that would resonate with different passengers. We also identified the precise context in which to deliver the information, such as at the beginning of the flight or during the pre-meal beverage service.

We used a combination of user research, testing, and learning to understand what types of contextual information would enhance the passenger experience versus what might seem intrusive or even an invasion of privacy. The airline considered how  (and whether) to mention birthdays, anniversaries, or even a family death. How much do customers want an airline to know and play back during an intercontinental flight? What level of intimacy is appropriate based on each person’s brand relationship and loyalty? Considering these types of questions plays directly into shaping the passenger experience through digital and non-digital means.

In this particular engagement, we examined specific ways to improve the delivery of customer experience without digging into the underlying operations of the airline and the inner workings of employee experiences. This enabled the airline to make a significant impact without a massive overhaul of its backstage operations. It paved the way for more significant digital transformation of the customer experience based on the success of a proven Service Design initiative.

Complexity Elevates the Role of Backstage

More complex service ecosystems—e.g., helping insurance brokers process claims, investment banks balance books in trades, or teams in finance and accounting within large hospitality companies troubleshoot irregularities in its general ledger—might require different approaches. When solving for problems such as these, the scope of our Service Design often extends to understanding—and potentially re-designing—the way that employees or the organization itself responds to customer needs.

In my next blog, I will talk more about how we apply deep programmatic Service Design to operations in complex organizations and work deep backstage alongside business process and change management colleagues to enable digital transformation. Let me know how you are embracing Service Design and some of the best practices that work for you.

It would be an understatement to say I dislike waiting in line. Given the choice between jockeying for position to board a train at Penn Station—or enjoying an interactive experience while standing in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad line at Disney—I know what I’d prefer.

By Dave Derby

In What the (bleep) is Service Design, I discuss the power of the emerging discipline Service Design, which reflects the next frontier of digital transformation. Service Design places the customer at the center of the entire journey—reimagining and interconnecting all digital and non-digital touchpoints. Design thinking, qualitative and quantitative research, and the right digital tools all come into play here. Below illustrates how you can start with low hanging fruit – e.g., existing digital technologies, data, and behavioral change – to make inroads quickly.

The Role of Frontstage and Backstage

In our Service Design approach for clients, we talk about “frontstage” and “backstage.” Let me explain. Picture yourself at a Broadway musical. You will be keenly aware of the actors, costumes, set design, and musicians – all part of the frontstage. Most audience members, however, don’t think about deeper backstage activities, like rehearsals, casting decisions, financial planning, and promotion – all essential contributors to what we see and hear onstage.

The sense of fluidity we experience within a Disney park occurs mostly frontstage, but it is enabled by digital technologies and other backstage capabilities. The digital platform and the smart use of location-aware data helps frontstage actors, such as park employees, deliver delightful, unexpected, and interactive experiences. Data from our magic bands unexpectedly lights up our names on digital kiosks, further enhancing our experience.

While effective Service Design requires both frontstage and backstage systems – you don’t always need a massive operational overhaul (rethinking the backstage) to begin making strides. The Disney example is a case in point.  Let’s consider another example. A few years ago, I helped an airline improve its in-flight passenger experience. We designed tools and experiences to empower flight attendants to use basic knowledge of traveler preferences, such as a passenger’s favorite magazine or beverage—or to create moments of unexpected personalized service based on frequent-flier milestones.

Though we designed digital tablet apps that pushed helpful customer-specific information to flight attendants, we recognized that the most critical aspect of the Service Design was how the onstage flight attendants actually used the information with passengers. We helped shift behaviors around the smart use of the data, such as identifying specific phrases that would resonate with different passengers. We also identified the precise context in which to deliver the information, such as at the beginning of the flight or during the pre-meal beverage service.

We used a combination of user research, testing, and learning to understand what types of contextual information would enhance the passenger experience versus what might seem intrusive or even an invasion of privacy. The airline considered how  (and whether) to mention birthdays, anniversaries, or even a family death. How much do customers want an airline to know and play back during an intercontinental flight? What level of intimacy is appropriate based on each person’s brand relationship and loyalty? Considering these types of questions plays directly into shaping the passenger experience through digital and non-digital means.

In this particular engagement, we examined specific ways to improve the delivery of customer experience without digging into the underlying operations of the airline and the inner workings of employee experiences. This enabled the airline to make a significant impact without a massive overhaul of its backstage operations. It paved the way for more significant digital transformation of the customer experience based on the success of a proven Service Design initiative.

Complexity Elevates the Role of Backstage

More complex service ecosystems—e.g., helping insurance brokers process claims, investment banks balance books in trades, or teams in finance and accounting within large hospitality companies troubleshoot irregularities in its general ledger—might require different approaches. When solving for problems such as these, the scope of our Service Design often extends to understanding—and potentially re-designing—the way that employees or the organization itself responds to customer needs.

In my next blog, I will talk more about how we apply deep programmatic Service Design to operations in complex organizations and work deep backstage alongside business process and change management colleagues to enable digital transformation. Let me know how you are embracing Service Design and some of the best practices that work for you.

Interested in partnering with us?

Send a message and we will work with you to understand your needs.

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2019-01-08T14:55:49+00:00