The biggest challenge for Service Design is the organization

There is no doubt that service design is important and a user centered way of engaging users and customers is crucial for surviving as we move into a service-driven economy. But succeeding with service design often takes both organizational and cultural changes. This is one of the biggest challenges for service design.

- Most organizations think that they can do service design in small teams – then they can say that they have adopted service design. But if you do real service design it not only affects a small team of dedicated workers in one part of the organization. It affects the whole organization, says José Abdelnour Nocera.

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The user journey cuts across divisions and departments, but the service designer does not always have the ability to get involved on all levels.

José Abdelnour Nocera is Associate Professor in Sociotechnical Design and visiting scholar at the IT University
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Limits to Service Design
As the discipline was born as a combination of practices of different fields e.g marketing, management, user-centred design and participatory design, when working with service design you have to cover different functions of the organization, not only those that are customer-facing, to take ownership of an entire service journey. However, in most cases the service designer only has commission to influence some of these aspects - not all. This makes it challenging to work with the user journey as a whole.

- The user journey cuts across divisions and departments, but the service designer does not always have the ability to get involved on all levels. Therefore, they mostly focus on the touch points that they actually can do something about. They only have ownership on a certain section, but not over others. For instance, they might be able to design touch points in the process of selling holiday experiences in a digital portal, but they cannot influence the service experience in the facilities where those holidays take place. This often leaves them with different licenses to change things, but makes it hard to be consistent and hard to succeed, says José Abdelnour Nocera.

Conflicting values
The natural response is that service design is multidisciplinary and that design teams incorporate different capacities with different autonomy and agency.

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Some managers can see the value of service design and do provide a human-centered ethos to the services provided by the organization, but it is where the organization’s vision and business models are not strategically aligned with service design that the challenges occur.

José Abdelnour Nocera is Associate Professor in Sociotechnical Design and visiting scholar at the IT University
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- Some managers can see the value of service design and do provide a human-centered ethos to the services provided by the organization, but it is where the organization’s vision and business models are not strategically aligned with service design that the challenges occur. In those situations it is important to ensure commission to design agencies or external consultants with a good outsider visibility of the service organization as a coherent, or incoherent, whole, says José Abdelnour Nocera.

Education and creating awareness of human centeredness and design thinking tools can help the organization to be service-centered rather than product-centered. But often it takes a big cultural change to succeed.

- Often there are conflicting values between middle managers. One middle manager wants to involve the client according to service design with focus on value for customers and ideal touchpoints to the user journey. But another manager might have another business goal driven by the effectiveness of shipping goods or value for money. These cultural structures and business goals could very well be in conflict with the perspective of service design and make it hard to introduce human centeredness, says José Abdelnour Nocera.

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For service design to be more than just lip service stating that ‘we are inclusive’ and ‘we do service design’, you have to align with organizational strategy, structures and goals and move from a product driven strategy to a service-driven mentality.

José Abdelnour Nocera is Associate Professor in Sociotechnical Design and visiting scholar at the IT University
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Align culture, values and vision to succeed in service design
Assessing the alignment of business models with service strategies and implementation is fundamental. The challenge is that you can work with service design from different perspectives and think that what you practice is servicedesign. And to work with co-design, touch-points and user centeredness you do not have to know about strategy or business goals.

- For service design to be more than just lip service stating that ‘we are inclusive’ and ‘we do service design’, you have to align with organizational strategy, structures and goals and move from a product driven strategy to a service-driven mentality. Solving a user problem with an app is not a service-driven mentality. Though an app can be a main point of leverage, service design goes beyond. It is the context of service and the designing and steering of human interactions, says José Abdelnour Nocera and continues:

- The solution to these challenges require bottom up and top down approaches to embracing a service-driven mentality and implement it. This means, on one hand, facilitating communication all the way up from service users and making them co-owners of the service journey; and on the other hand, having top managers championing and implementing service and customer centric values that middle managers and key stakeholders can share without compromising their own immediate goals on the job.