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EPAM Myth Busters: What Service Design Is, And Is Not (Part 1)

Matt Farrar

VP of Service Design, EPAM

In my 20 years as a design leader, I’ve witnessed my fair share of fashion, fads, jargon, and fluff with the rise and fall of every new wave of technology. In the beginning, these tech fads and new terminologies are pioneered by a small group of early adopters looking to differentiate their offerings from the rest of the competition. This first-to-market advantage lasts for around two to three years, until the competition catches up. In the meantime, those scrambling to stay abreast of new trends will abuse popular catch words and concepts to feign competency. As a result many concepts are warped, watered down, or misused so frequently that their original meaning and intent diminishes, leaving a wake of confusion and commoditisation behind it for clients. Service Design is one such discipline that seems to be misunderstood and misused more and more every day.

At EPAM, we're keen to dispel a few myths about Service Design. I'll be exploring this concept in this blog series that will dispel three core myths and get to root of Service Design's main function: to improve the quality and interaction between service providers and their customers! Let’s take a look at our first myth, which is one of the most widely propagated misconceptions in our industry:


Myth #1: Service Design is about the digital experience

I completed my degree in Industrial Design and Electronic Media 20 years ago. Soon after, the phrase 'digital' was coined as a catch-all to describe anything electronic that you touch with your fingers (digits). Sadly, it stuck, and I hate it just as much today as I did then.

You might ask why and, well, here it is: How can we convey the exciting, colliding world of data, technology, people, and design by calling it ‘digital’? The issue with this word is that it provides a narrow train of thought with little room for other interaction advancements such as artificial intelligence, voice control, or hardware and the Internet of Things (IOT). These are all examples of advancements that will pervade everyday life over the next five years, and yet have absolutely nothing to do with our fingers.

As we all know, a perfect customer experience is not just digital. A customer will successfully engage with a brand when every touch point of that experience is perfect. That moment could be a printed ticket; the way they are treated by the customer service rep at the end of the phone; the quality of the seats onboard a train; or even the meal they are served during the journey. Or, it could be the mobile experience used to book the tickets. My point? It's simple: Service is the entire interaction journey across all touch points and a whole lot bigger than just digital!

If one touch point of that service is broken, or out of context, the customer will be left dissatisfied. Humans like consistent experiences that make them feel special, understood, and comfortable. If we are going to differentiate and create advocacy through a perfect customer service experience, it's crucial to focus on perfection across every single touch point.

Service Design teams require hybrid skills. They need to understand technology, physical environments, Industrial Design/hardware, people, print, and science, instead of simply being a group of digital UX, UI and Visual Designers.

Continue to EPAM Myth Busters: What Service Design Is, And Is Not (Part 2)

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