Service design the Wunder Way – with a cherry on the top

Published: 9.3.2023
Author: Talvikki Rainsola, Head of Design
Categories: Design
Reading time: 6 min
Wundercon cakes

Even though service design is relatively popular these days, there are numerous ways how to do it. This article will reveal the way how Service design is handled at Wunder. Make yourself comfortable, let our Head of Design, Talvikki get you acquainted with our approach, and stay tuned because this is the first piece on this topic; others are soon to come.

Service design is a collaborative and human-friendly approach to innovation and problem-solving, creating and developing services for people. Wunder’s mission is to bring people together and shape the way digital services are used in everyday life. We help our clients to improve their digital business, competitiveness, and customer experience. Quite a suitable match, right?

Wunder’s service design approach is not extraordinary, but it is also not an out-of-the-box solution that suits everyone (as it would even be possible). Being a digital service designer for 23 years (10 of them at Wunder), I have experienced a lot of confusion about what is what. And even though the internet is full of literature on service design and even our Wunderpedia soon covers the basics, I will do my best to explain how Service design is done the Wunder way. To keep this post easy for short attention spans I will cut corners and oversimplify things a bit.

In the context of Wunder, the purpose of the act of service design is to:

  1. Help people, businesses & organizations to identify and understand the actual problems (not just symptoms of them),
  2. Plan and build sustainable, viable, and value-generating solutions.

Let’s think of this slightly more in detail. Imagine a 3-layered cake, where different focus areas are on top of each other, and interactions and dependencies are the filling that bonds layers together. Most of the filling is included in the collaborative process of ”digital service design”. Here agility is not about software development, but it’s more about constant learning and being open to reflection and rescoping.

The role of the service designer is often to facilitate the design & development process (layering and stuffing of the cake) and operate with a variety of people (and the filling) depending on the task at hand.

Upwards and onwards – let’s have the cake and eat it too – this time, it’s possible!

Imagine your service or App being the cake in a row of others that appear equally tempting…

It’s quite natural to think the visually appealing surface is the most important feature to beat others in this competition. But the surface is just the promise which sometimes stays unfulfilled or even turns to repulsive disappointment. The real thing, juiciness or dryness, the sweetness or sourness realizes only when you stick your fork into the treat and start experiencing it.

No amount of pixel polishing can’t fool the users when it comes to the value of the real interaction and experience. Similarly, as with cakes – the fancy layout is not simply enough if the actual content and features do not meet the expectations of the visitors. Hence, it makes sense to dig deeper into how we can design, build & maintain the best possible experiences and solutions.

The base layer: Business value & Digital Ecosystem Development

Unmanaged, organic growth of an ecosystem can be fatal to a business. It’s important when building an ecosystem to ensure all dependencies have been identified and can be controlled. We help our partners to identify the areas where digital improvements are needed, experiments can be made, and we compress them all to an ecosystem development plan – a tool to support steering the change.

As Lou Downe, Former Design Director of the UK Government, Founder & Director of the School of Good Services, wrote: ”The biggest influences on our lives are not products – phones, cars, hoovers or even houses – they’re services, and they scale faster than any product on earth … The problem we have is that we don’t see services as real things. When we do, we think of them as somehow less impactful than physical things. We don’t see the harm we do with them to our users when they are badly designed, but we also don’t see how much harm these do to our organization either.”

Middle layer: Experience value & Agile Service Management

It’s quite typical that a company has a wide variety of digital services and several solution or product owners – but no one owns the overall digital customer experience (CX). Similarly, as with the business layer, the operative layer of organic development with no clear goals and roadmap leads to cluttered CX, and in the worst case, company services compete against each other making development efforts worthless.

Our designers, web analytics specialists, project managers, and technical experts have a pedagogical approach to supporting digital service ownership and management. While planning the service development roadmaps, we provide knowledge with data & insights, prioritize development activities, make smart choices, and find the right tools & processes to enhance operational excellence.

Sometimes the challenge might be in service or solution, and sometimes in the way how service is provided and maintained – then technology is not necessarily the right tool to solve people-originated problems. Here service design can help to enhance teamwork and processes.

Top layer – the visible one: Technological value & Service Development

When all goals and metrics and the scope of the next development cycle are clear, back office activities are mapped, and necessary parties are involved in product discovery – we start the experiments with the solution layer. We go through accessibility, usability, and system performance, identify challenges and suggest solutions. The service design can help to create new models to collaborate.

On the tangible layer, we validate ideas through rapid prototyping, proof of concepts, and user tests. When validation is done, it’s time to execute and build selected improvements. At this point, we often operate in scrum sprints, where service designers collaborate tightly with product owners, project managers, UX/UI designers, and the technical development team until the actual product is ready to be published for people.

And the cherry on the top

The best thing about digital service design is that even if there are business and customer needs to keep in mind, challenges and opportunities to tackle, methods and patterns to choose from, good practices to follow, a pile of tools and technologies to select from, as well as data, design & development tasks to be done, still, every day is an opportunity to learn something new and find new ways to improve human life.

Long-term partnerships are so much more than just ”work”. Psychological safety and collaboration with client-side experts and our experts as one team create situations where professionalism, kindness, loyalty, and trust overcome obstacles. Achieving common goals together, providing measurable value, and making people’s lives easier is worth celebrating.

By keeping the ecosystem maps, service blueprints, KPIs & metrics plans, development roadmaps, product backlogs & tools of the trade in shape and updated, we ensure better resilience when adjustments and scaling have to be made due to some unexpected event.

If you, by any chance, happen to be unfamiliar with the topics or tools mentioned, please visit our newly added Wunderpedia section on service design terminology. As we are constantly working on shaping and improving our digital services, there are plenty of great ideas we are aiming to share shortly. So don’t go any far; new content is coming soon.

Sounds interesting?

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