The activity of planning and organizing service components, infrastructure, communication and people to improve customer experience, is called service design.
It is a customer focused study that helps a company learn about customer perspective. But why do you think it is important for you to have a good service design?
Implementing a good service design will let you keep your services competitive and sustainable while keeping it user-friendly and relevant to customers.
You’ve been hearing this for a long now – be it the outsourcing industry or any other, call center software could be a one-stop solution for all your needs. This might make little sense to you in terms of service design but let’s find out if this approach can work for us in this situation as well. Let’s go step-by-step:
1. The first step is to consider the below elements:
• Identify customer needs – Customers want to be heard and when you go an extra mile to meet their needs, you’ve already won customer loyalty. Your customers need you to – listen to them, acknowledge their interaction with your brand, and appreciate them.
• Kind of service you must offer – As you work towards building a loyal customer base, providing them quality service is of utmost importance. You can do this by helping them make an informed decision – possibly by keeping them educated about your products or services-, targeting an appropriate customer segment and further delivering quality, as promised.
• Delivering the service – As you learn more about the kind of service you should provide, remember to keep things simple. A study states that customers are more responsive to user-friendly products or services and expect timely support from the company. For a few companies, it might be difficult to provide timely support, but this can only happen when your employees take ownership and exhibit support.
• Customer pursuance – When I use the word pursuance, it speaks for itself, showing the importance of customer engagement. In a customer centric world it is very important that you prioritize your customers and convey the same to them. Let them know they are important to you, involve them, empower them and last but not the least delight them.
2. After you’ve figured out the answers to these four, the next step is to conduct an ethnographic study: Even before you think of improving your services, you should first analyse your existing offerings from a customer point of view.
You can do this by having customer focused groups at each touch point of their journey. However, you might not hear everyone’s voice or rather hear a biased opinion, influenced by group thinking or due to perceptions that are not clear to self.
Hence, it is better to rely on ethnographic research rather than the feedback. You can go a long way using this research methodology which might involve data curation from the customer interviews, in-store observations and diary reviews.
3. Moving further you’ll need to understand the customer experience ecosystem: When I use the term ‘ecosystem,’ it refers to a biological community and their physical environment. Their environment could consist of direct or indirect influences.
When you are working on a service design, it is significant to sync your front end (sales team, retail outlets, and website) with your back end (IT, HR and Finance) to meet the customer expectations – known as customer ecosystem. As you make changes to this ecosystem, it is vital to consider the immediate effect it would have on other departments.
4. Now, based on whatever you’ve studied so far you can start creating your services accordingly. Remember to keep your services in sync with customer promises!
Customer experiences are not always based on their previous experience but could be based on your brand promises – put forth by your advertising and marketing team.
These promises may stand incomplete when you fail to look at the customer journey and services designed, leading to customer dissatisfaction. So, don’t forget to inform your marketing team while making any changes to your services.
5. It is time to build the persona of your brand. As you start constructing, you should make it a point to combine the sociographic information with demographic customer details:
We all know that every lock has a different key, and so does every customer. Different customers have different needs and use differing touch points.
Hence, it is very important for you to build a persona and stay in sync with it. But, as you build the persona you’ll need to combine socio-graphic and demographic factors with ethnographic research. You could stay in-line with one or more type of personas and deliver a better experience.
6. We’re talking about building an efficient service design, so it is very important that you measure customer emotions:
As you gather customer feedback to improve your services, you can also measure customer emotions – as they have a greater impact on customer loyalty. You can do this using the sentiment analysis through different tools like text and speech analysis or through the customer surveys.
7. Evaluate the accelerators and blockers: To lower the gap between the ideal service and the one being delivered, you’ll need to identify various factors that can help you provide a better service – let’s call these as accelerators; while identifying factors that hinder the delivery of quality service – let’s term these as blockers. You can always compare the before and after scenario – when you implement a blocker or an accelerator.
Unlike other subjects I talk about, service design is an extensive subject that is hard to understand. So, let’s look at an example to understand this concept better. This time we’ll take a look at an international fabric provider.
The company is a fabric manufacturer and provider, founded in 1966 in India. With its offices across five continents the company employs approximately 500 employees. The company caters to the African markets.
The Indian company, producing high-quality fabrics for West African markets, was facing interruptions in market conditions due to lookalike competition.
The product manufactured by the company was not a ready-to-wear fabric; it was a semi-finished product. Once the customers purchased it, he could then take it to his respective tailor and get it stitched.
The company has been into business for quite some time now, but the severe competition had put their business under immense pressure; whilst technology had also become a huge disruptor, with change in buying habits and the ecommerce gaining a boost.
The company needed to, immediately, work on the service design and come up with a new vision to secure its future. The management brainstormed about various aspects to curate data for their need service design.
This time they wanted to look at it from the customers’ point of view. However, it was difficult to do so, they conceptualized the hiring of call center solutions that would help them collect the necessary data.
A team of experts was appointed to reach out to the customers using the best call center software. The new team started data collection through research and feedback’s from employees as well as the customers.
Their very next step was to map consumer journey, for which, the company got into ethnographic research, both quantitative as well as qualitative.
The research team segmented their research process based on demographic information, home visits, work visits, video reporting, retail view, street interviews, online feedback’s and surveys, shadow shopping and creative focus groups.
Thorough personas were developed based on the data that covered fashion needs, styles and values from traditional housewives to ambitious businesswomen.
It seemed like the business was all about transactions and that the company’s role ended after the customer purchased the product.
However, ethnographic research revealed that their customers needed customized clothing. The after-purchase phase looked like it had frictions – analyzing as to how they could stylize their fabric and tailor it for their customers. This was the point to ideate. So the team travelled to their point of sales and wanted to test the prototypes it had come up with.
Prototype 1: Tailoring Service
The team developed a new service based on research and insights. Following were a few insights:
• Digitization is changing the buying methodology
• Fashions brands were capitalizing of the company’s digital signature
• Quite a few customers get a negative tailoring experience, as the final result does not match their expectations
Resultantly, the service provided a one-stop shopping experience where customers could pick a fabric, followed by tailor assistance to take the body measurements. The product is then made at their manufacturing units and sent to the store for fitting. This was a concept tested on 25 customers, 3 stores, 6 tailors and 3 patterns.
Prototype 2: Styling
This was the second concept covering the pro-purchase phase developed by the team. Here the customer could do custom shopping in stores while he could also look at the mobile application to mix and match fabrics.
The team got some valuable feedback after testing this prototype in-store and with customers. They conducted tests on different levels conceptual, usability and interaction to not only be customer centric but also become college centric. They then developed features, business cases and interaction design, only to officially launch the product.
The company was located way too far from its markets, but using service design and creating multi-disciplinary teams jointly with African college helped them get the first-hand data.
With the call center software solutions it was easier for the company to analyse all the data collected through research. The concept not only improved the service delivered but also worked well for the company, developing a happier customer base.
Both the prototypes facilitated the company’s expansion beyond production and sales. The company now looks forward to add value to its expansion by creating job opportunities locally and facilitating the fashion industry.
The company has secured its future by adding value to the industry as well as their product whilst obtaining sustainable and scalable business objectives.
Wasn’t it really interesting to hear a brands’ success story? It is time you build your story with a good service design. The point is to keep your customers involved and engaged in all your activities; and, look at every situation from a customers’ point of view. Build a happier customer base and expand your business. It’s an on-going process, so get started!