What is service design?

Elements of Service Design

Service design is the activity of organising people, infrastructure, planning, communication and material components of a service, to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers.

The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants so that the service is user-friendly, competitive and relevant to the customers.

In service design, one can observe the process of collecting service needs, aligning them with integrated service requirements, and developing design specifications for the essential service assets. A particular feature of this approach is a strong emphasis on reuse during design.

Service design helps create new services or helps improve the existing services. It helps to make the service interfaces useful, usable and desirable from the client’s perspective. Utilising the available resources, and service design helps connect organisations, suppliers, and service providers to their clients in a desirable way. Service design helps create an experience for its users and thereby helps improve everyday life. It therefore helps create brand affinity. Service design helps gain a true understanding of the consumer market, its users and their experiences and expectations.

Elements of Service Design

The various elements of service design can be classified as follows:

  1. Structural
  2. Managerial
Elements of Service Design

1) Structural

i) Capacity Planning

Capacity planning is the process of determining the production capacity needed by an organization to accurately assess and allocate the production capacity required to effectively meet the ever-evolving demands for their products. In the context of capacity planning, “capacity” is the maximum amount of work that an organization can accomplish within a specific timeframe.

Capacity = (number of machines or workers) (number of shifts) x (utilisation) x (efficiency).

ii) Delivery System

The delivery of services differs significantly from that of manufactured goods. Goods production precedes distribution, while services are frequently indivisible from the service provider. Because of this inseparability characteristic, the channels for most services are short and simple. The distribution of services concerns the service’s availability, specifying when and where it is obtainable.

iii) Facility Design

Servicescape and a landscape bear a resemblance to each other. It includes facilities exterior (landscape, exterior design, signage, parking, surrounding environment) and facilities interior (interior design and decor, equipment, signage, layout, air quality, temperature and ambience). Servicescape along with other tangibles like business cards, stationary, billing statements, reports, employee dress, uniform brochures, web pages and virtual servicescape form the ‘Physical Evidence’ in the service marketing.

iv) Location

A location-based service (LBS) is an information or entertainment service that can be accessed using mobile devices through the mobile network. LBS utilizes geographical information to determine the position of the mobile device. It can be used in a variety of contexts, such as spanning health, indoor object search, entertainment, work, personal life etc. LBS encompass a range of services aimed at determining the location of a person or object. They facilitate locating the nearest banking cash machine or the whereabouts of a friend or employee.

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2) Managerial

i) Quality

Even in the case of products, quality is difficult to define because it is highly dependent upon customer perception. Quality is a word that enjoys widespread usage whilst failing to capture an agreed definition.

ii) Service Encounter

The service encounter stage often begins with the act of applying, requesting a reservation, or placing an order. Contacts may take the form of personal exchanges between service employees and customers, or impersonal interactions with computers or machines. In high-contact services, such as restaurants, healthcare, hotels, and public transportation, customers may become actively involved in one or more service processes.

iii) Information

Keeping information on patients allows the service organisations to build a loyal customer base, which is an effective word-of-mouth advertising medium. Providing free services and other services also allows the companies to build a unique database on its procedure.

iv) Managing Capacity and Demand

One of the key challenges in managing supply and demand management in services is the lack of inventory capability. Unlike manufacturing firms, service firms cannot build up inventories during periods of slow demand for future utilization when demand eventually increases. This lack of inventory capability is due to the perishable nature of services and their simultaneous production and consumption. An airline seat that is not sold on a given flight cannot be resold the following day: the productive capacity of that seal has perished. Similarly, an hour of a lawyer’s billable time cannot be carried over from one day to the next. Services cannot be transported or transferred between locations or individuals.

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