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The importance of behind the scenes service design

  • 17 November 2021 / By Mariana Pedrosa
  • UX Research and Design

In the first of a series of articles around service design, we’re going behind the scenes in the Stage Theory of service design and delving into the intricacies that make it all possible (and some things impossible if they’re ignored).

If the front stage delivers the customer experience, the backstage houses the production team that crafts it and, crucially, what goes on behind the scenes is the process of preparing that production team for the task at hand. It’s the legal, financial, structural, cultural and experiential elements that dictate what can and can’t be done.

The reason this blog exists is because the behind-the-scenes elements are regularly overlooked in service design and, therefore, the service itself falls flat as a result. Let’s take a look at how we can change that with a connective approach to service design.

A responsibility to go behind the scenes

Paying attention to the behind-the-scenes of a customer-facing service (or any user-focused service, for that matter) is an integral part of service design. It’s our job to influence and shape organisations so that they work better, not only regarding the service in question, but also concerning an organisation as a whole, from policy and finance to planning and strategy to execution and maintenance.

If service design can break down the organisational silos that are hampering both backstage and front stage activities, it can instil far better ways of working when it comes to ideation, design and delivery. This means actively focusing on the imperfect realities of an organisation and working to fix them to achieve good outcomes; if things like technical difficulties, financial constraints and strategic shortcomings aren’t fixed, good outcomes will be much harder to attain.

Service design requires the capabilities to navigate an organisation, diagnose the blockers and orchestrate a strategy together with domain experts to fix them and, in turn, improve both internal processes and external end-results for users.

Connecting the dots for every contributor

There are many layers to a successful project within an organisation and, broadly speaking, no matter the discipline, they are usually heading for the same overarching objective of satisfying the end-user. Service design provides a great way of zooming out and seeing where and how collaboration should happen behind the scenes for any kind of project or process to work.

When everyone understands the roles they play in making the right decisions and how they rely upon each other, the organisation as a whole benefits from better processes and the customer, as a result, benefits from better services. It’s that behind-the-scenes approach to service design that can effectively break down the proverbial barriers that have always got in the way of great experiences and, moreover, empower colleagues to not only work together more, but also to work together better.

We’ve put it into action at Kin + Carta by helping Cazoo turn recent acquisitions into a streamlined, interdepartmental operation. By including behind the scenes, we provided an approach that helped every part of the organisation work better together and deliver a better service for its customers.

Without this zoomed out view, too many disciplines would continue to work on future projects in isolation towards their own goals and the end results would never be quite as good as the vision might have promised.

Organisations rarely have the luxury of designing on top of perfect infrastructures and business models, of course, but this is why service design plays such an important role in helping them improve processes and make better decisions to shape better user experiences. Ultimately, it inspires transformation in a world that demands agility, connectivity and responsibility from businesses.

Interested in how service design can help you?

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