Service design strengthens your brand

Customer experience enabled by service design is becoming a key arena for building competitive advantage.

There has been an upsurge in innovation of services.

Companies have realised that providing quality service experiences is a crucial area to help obtain new customers and retain existing ones. Service has become the focus of major innovation because customers are more knowledgeable and experienced, which results in fiercer competition. Service innovation has become a differentiating factor in a competitive business climate.

It’s a complex endeavour to design high-calibre services, and that’s why this has become an area where providers can distinguish themselves. Luckily, there are still segments that don’t have quality services. Even if your company is a provider of products, the actions that your customers do – or are subject to - are in fact services. Areas that you used to regard as product offerings have become services, for example, accessibility to software.

All interactions between providers and users are potential areas for service innovation. Copywriters, interaction designers and service managers create services that are an amalgam of marketing and product experiences – in the same way as brand experiences.

The service touch point is where customers interact with a service

Service processes have actions backstage that the provider or the system does to prepare for the service, actions that customers do on their own, and places where the two interact. When a customer puts her trust in a provider, she’s in a sense exposed and vulnerable. If the service isn’t satisfactory, the customer will have lost out.

“Great services are what they do

– not what they promise.”

– Lavrans Løvlie

A service touch point, either as a person-to-person interaction or an interface, must cater to customers' needs to recognise, understand, manage, enjoy and remember. Services don’t have to be luxurious or elaborate. For example, in web design services, the functionality has to give the customer an outcome.

Given that services may be person-to-person, self-service or automated service tools, a service touch point may be anywhere in the customer journey. A transaction of value happens when a user interacts with a well-designed service. Strong brands provide the services that are valuable to users.

The effort required to use a service is the most important consideration.

When developing a service, the amount of effort to engage in it is the single most important measure. The use of a service is something the user either instigates or receives. The execution is dependent on the actions of the user and the provider. The cognitive or physical ease of use depend on the role, personality and background of the customer.

People have different personalities, different education and live in different contexts. Even if a user is familiar with a service, it’s difficult to predict her level of intent, experimentation and persistence.

Designers base the usability of service interfaces on the same principles as for product interfaces; structures, actions and sensorial elements. When services are more physical or sensorial, the amount of strength or sensitivity required plays a significant role. Consumers who have experienced great service usability tend to want NOT to lower their standards.

Markets with strong competition for products tend to have highly developed services. Well-designed services are the primary factor in instigating a good impression and thereby a good reputation. Reputation is the stuff that builds brands. Stronger brands do better business.

Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg is a visual communicator and branding consultant. He specialises in building brand strategies and brand identities. Christian has worked with several specializations within visual communication as well as teaching and being an author. Christian now works on his third stint as an entrepreneur.