Based on one of the tracks at the DMI academic conference in Paris this April, the latest issue of the Design Management Review (which is a special issue on service design) ,and an earlier hunch on the relevance of BDI to service design and vice versa, I will share with you some of the insights I have on service design in relationship to the â€˜traditionalâ€™ design disciplines (which I categorize according to Olins in Product, Environment, Communication and Behaviour, because it works really well for me).
Where the â€˜traditionalâ€™ design disciplines are geared towards creating individual touch points, service design seems to focus on integrating these into a complete and meaningful consumer journey. Therefore it is tempting to say that service design is just another word for multidisciplinary design. Tempting but unsatisfying: Somehow it seems to me that the added value of service design lies more in what happens between the design disciplines than within them. It looks at the connections rather than what gets connected, at the white space between the words (the people from live|work confirm this view judging from their contribution to DMR).
At the same time however, Iâ€™ve noticed how familiar the tools and methods applied for service design are to those involved in integrated multidisciplinary design management. This suggests that a significant part of the effort of creating meaningful and profitable service models lie in creating the consumer touch points that make the service tangible. These touch points have to be designed, and thus require the ‘familiar’ research/ design/ execution tools and methods. Iâ€™ve also gathered from the Design Management Review that many of the leaders in the field have a product- or interaction design background.
This little insight left me wondering what specific methods and tools there are within the domain of service design to connect the touch points. What is the white space between the words? At Zilver have started to prototype our own answers to this question. What we have developed is an alternative to the traditional brand touch point wheel (Davis and Dunn, 2002), or rather, something that comes before it. Weâ€™ve baptised it the relationship wheel. It tries to uncover the relationship between your organisation and specific types of end users by looking at how specific kinds of relationships are built over time. We donâ€™t look at pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase, but at getting acquainted with each other, becoming familiar with each other, spending time together, getting to know each other, challenging each other, celebrating together etc. These phases in the relationship are then translated into opportunities for interaction and accompanying touch points.
relationships grow over time, photo by john&mel kots
It is clear that what connects the touch points in this model is the evolving relationship between organisation and end user. This relationship, on a fundamental level, is the brand. The specific consumer journey represents the execution of the brand for that specific product/service/consumer. This puts the brand in a place where it connects the touch points, and forms the white space between the words, whether it concerns a product or a service experience.