“Is Service Design the new New?”

May 22, 10:34 PM

When Jean-Louis Fréchin introduced me to service design some ten years ago, the concept made so much sense. It pin-pointed the painstaking harmonization it took to keep the customer’s experience satisfactory throughout the many touch-points they encounter while interacting with a service.

Nicolas Maitret’s 2004 short thesis on service design illustrates this vision with a sharp and accurate description of such an approach, citing among others a multiple touch-point service including the signing of a prenup, opening a bank account, a bank statement and a credit card.

The project Nicolas described brought together several disciplines from information design to paralegal, industrial design to banking, all aiming at conveying a satisfactory customer-journey when opening a joint bank account.

I cannot stop pondering though, for such case and many others, whether the project was addressed with a service in mind from the beginning or with a more open-minded, open-ended question? This really sticks because of the very nature of the design process and the core principle of innovation, that is: “well, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s… done.”

So, is service design much like furniture design? No matter the problem, ask a furniture designer, you will end up with a stylish piece of furniture. Or, is it a process of harmonizing a complex system to make it fathomable and satisfactory in the eyes of a given audience?

Now another thing hits me: that last definition is the very definition of interaction design. Bugger!

Lalao HM. Rakotoniaina