What is Service Design?

Service design is a trendy buzz word. Still, for many it is unclear what the concept means. Lamia’s Head of Design Saana Turunen sheds light on its meaning and objective.

Defining ‘service design’ is a universal problem. Experts seem to agree on one thing only: there is no exhaustive definition of service design.

According to Lamia’s Head of Design Saana Turunen, the difficulty lies in the fact that service design is not a clear-cut method or area of competence.

"Service design is an umbrella concept that combines elements of design, user interface, sales and marketing," Turunen explains.

Service design implies comprehensive design with the goal of creating user-friendly and relevant services, products, facilities, and processes. For example, the aim of designing an e-commerce service is to produce a commercially successful platform.

“Service design is not a new, miraculous magic wand, even though it’s now a trending topic. Some people think that service design is all about visual show off. In reality, aesthetics is only a part of service design and a tool for making a service appealing.”

In practice, service design is customer-oriented teamwork where the designer works as a moderator between experts from different fields. For example, a team creating e-commerce platforms can consist of professionals in UX and UI design, sales, marketing and software development.

“I believe that by the means of service design, professionals from different fields have found a common language. The service designer’s role is to help the team members understand each other and find a common vision and direction," Turunen says.

Service design investigates end-users

Customer understanding is the epicenter of service design: it is all about making a service meet the users’ and customer’s needs. Everything is based on the principle that customer understanding is an essential factor in creating successful services. Let’s exaggerate a bit: the opposite of service design is to create a service, which is based on assumptions.

“The goal of service design is to strengthen the success of a service. It is crucial to understand, what is being designed and for who. A good service brings value to the business as well as to its customers," Turunen explains.

Customer understanding is accumulated through engaging with the customer and the end users of the service. In order to comprehend the wishes, needs, and challenges of the customer, a relevant part of a service designer’s job is to interview the customer and the end users.

For example, when designing an online shop, designers dig into the customer’s business and ambitions. The design takes into account commercial aspects (what is being sold and to whom?) and customer behavior (who are the customers now and in the future, and how do they behave?).

“At Lamia, we think that the customer is at the core of design. With the help of in-depth understanding, we can create successful services. For us, close collaboration with our customers is important in all phases of a project," Turunen concludes.

Saana has been involved in creating Lamia’s design services from the start. She is an advocate for usability with the aim to make service design a crucial part of creating digital businesses. Turunen has gained experience and vision through over 80 customer projects.