Unpacking Service Design: Overcoming Three Common Challenges (Part Three)

Our proprietary research shows that 67 percent of senior leaders attribute successful Customer Experience (CX) transformations to clarity of vision and business case.To drive effective customer-centered transformation, leaders must first transform how work gets done across every function in the organization, bolstered by a shared vision and an end-to-end framework for diagnosing, solving, and scaling enhancements to the experience. Accelerated Service Design is North Highland’s approach to reimagining all of the physical and digital touchpoints involving customers and employees needed to deliver an orchestrated experience. In this series, we will begin to unpack insights, challenges, and opportunities associated with the emerging field of service design.

Through the course of our series, we’ve focused on simplifying service design down to its core components, yet the approach isn’t simple. Companies that use a service design approach tend to encounter common roadblocks. These roadblocks reflect the tension between organizational inertia and the need to continuously be designing the new and the next.

There are three challenges that we have found organizations struggle with in terms of successfully engaging in service design:

  1. Lack of cross-functional collaboration. Establishing cross functional collaboration can be difficult because of the all-too-common organizational inertia, budgeting processes, and capacity constraints. However, to fully deliver a comprehensive seamless experience, functional silos need to be broken down and a shared vision is key. Cross-functional challenges may be exacerbated in companies where there is lack of alignment around a vision, the culture is not supportive of iteration, or growth has come through numerous acquisitions. To overcome this challenge, service design leaders have an opportunity to look at targeted socialization, alignment work sessions, and in-depth interviews with internal detractors.
  2. Fear of talking to customers. Good service design is rooted in customer insight, customer testing, and customer co-creation. Designing a service without input from customers is misguided. However, many organizations are fearful to engage their customers because they do not want to bother them or provide an outlet for prompting memory of poor experiences. These concerns may be exacerbated in B2B companies where there tend to be fewer customers, and customers have greater buying power. To overcome this challenge, we have had success engaging the sales organization to reach out to specific contacts, establishing interview credibility by targeting “friendly” customers first (a statistically meaningful sample must still be obtained for wider generalizations), and using less intrusive techniques such as observational research and scraping data from social media and social review websites (especially in B2C companies).
  3. Missing the big picture. Service design can be an incredibly powerful approach to developing a new service. However, it is easy to get lost in organizational complexity and process detail. Many organizations often jump into process mapping, requirements gathering, and vendor selection, without understanding the holistic customer journey that they are trying to enable. Diving into L2 and L3 process maps too soon may doom a project to be mired in current state constraints and end up with a perpetuation of the status quo. To overcome the challenge of getting stuck in the weeds, we have found visualizing the end-to-end solution can be a powerful way to continuously drive alignment around the big vision, but also the work to be done. Service blueprinting is one tool to help with the visualization, but actor ecology maps, service portfolio diagrams, and visual insights are also helpful options.

Companies are starting to view service design as an approach that is not optional, but imperative, because it orchestrates the assets around the customer to produce mutual benefit. The road can be rocky and challenging, but with the right perspectives, awareness, and learnings from past projects, service design can deliver powerful results.

Click here to read part one and part two of our series.

1. This blog draws on the results of a North Highland-sponsored survey conducted in March 2018. To understand trends, strategic challenges, and opportunities surrounding ways of working in Customer Experience (CX), we surveyed 269 director-level and above employees at organizations with 2017 revenues > $1 billion and that are headquartered in the U.S. or U.K.