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Nov 23, 2020

An introduction to Service Design


By Drew Welton

Founder - I help companies hire innovation executives.

In recent times, Service Design has become a focus point for organisations. From global conglomerates to local governments, this discipline is proving increasingly useful as it shapes the way that companies connect with their customers, employees, and citizens. So, at a time where many jobs are facing uncertain futures, how can you make the move into this area that is growing in demand?


According to Mat Hunter at the Design Council, Service Design is “the shaping of service experiences so that they really work for people. Removing the lumps and bumps that make them frustrating, and then adding some magic to make them compelling.”

Marc Fontijn, co-founder of Dutch service design consultancy, 31Volts, summed up service design perfectly: “When you have two coffee shops right next to each other that each sell the exact same coffee at the exact same price, Service Design is what makes you walk into the one and not the other.”

In short, Service Design is the process used to define the service experienced by a target audience. It brings together a mix of disciplines across the sciences and the arts with the aim of producing an experience that is tailored for a specific purpose.

The people

There are certain qualities that are needed to become a great service designer. If you’re interested by this area, then this should be your first consideration.

You need to be a good listener, have good attention to detail, be naturally curious and display empathy. This is crucial to understanding your target audience. As well as that, your finished product (the final experience) will affect businesses, and so an understanding of how organisations work is key. A good level of business acumen coupled with strong design experience is highly desirable to prospective employers.

Industry insights…

Service Design is related to User Experience Design (UX) and many of our candidates look to make the jump between the two disciplines as a result. We spoke to some industry professionals who have made the transition previously, asking for their advice on how to do it.

Loic Boisdron is a Freelance Service Designer. He spoke to us about the move from UX into Service design and what you need to do it well.

“I’d say it’s definitely to get a good understanding of business strategy concepts, growth levers, organisational functions/departments. In order to get stakeholders on-board with a service design approach you need to relate to how they run their business and how the different internal teams are involved in the service delivery. That’s a big shift from the UX designer mindset.”

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