In this article, we explore why it’s a good idea to adopt a customer-centric approach when your company or organisation is going through a change. We will also look into the concrete benefits customer-centric service design offers with regards to your company’s business operations and in achieving your vision.
Fuel growth and development through service design
While traditional service development focuses on market research and customer surveys, service design stems from a more customer-centric approach. Service design professionals strive to understand the customer’s behaviours and needs, allowing them to draw on and develop products and services around these needs.
While it has been said that the importance of marketing and advertising is declining, the value of a brand is increasingly measured through customer experience, authenticity and innovative services. In an operating environment in which service and business models are developing at an unprecedented pace, it’s no wonder many companies struggle to keep up with the changes. So where do you start when it’s time to update your operating models, build and maintain a competitive edge, or ensure a successful transformation?
Incorporating customer-centric service design in the process
Here at Hellon, we stand by the principle that the customer should always be at the centre of development. To you, the customer should be what the audience is to a theatre group, meaning they don’t know what happens backstage because it’s not really relevant to them. The audience, like your customer, sees and experiences the show based on how it is presented. Will the audience members leave the theatre with a smile on their faces ready to recommend the show to everyone at work the next day, or will they leave a scathing review online for everyone to see? The outcome naturally depends on how carefully the theatre experience, or the product or service, was created for your audience behind the scenes, i.e. at your company.
When a customer-centric approach is incorporated into a change process already during the planning stage, the end result will be a comprehensive service or product, along with an applicable operating model, tailored to meet the customer’s every need.
Service design is the first step of business development
At its core, service design is always about placing the customer first. Contrary to traditional business management strategies which measure progress in data and numbers, service design focuses on understanding the world view and behaviours of a product or service’s end user, your customer. A service design professional delves into the details around the kind of experience buying a service was for your customer, from considering providers to post-purchase actions. Would your customer recommend your service to their friends or would they use it again? Is the experience you offer better than that offered by your competitor? If yes, do you know how and why?
While the methods utilised are different, the company and service design team are always working towards the same goal; to develop the best possible service and enhance your company’s business operations.
A wide-ranging transformation may entail major process and systems changes, which are often managed with a heavy focus on data and numeric targets. Service design, on the other hand, employs a customer-centric approach that looks beyond just numbers, always setting the sights firmly on the future, emerging trends and new innovations - the building blocks of your company's ever-improving competitive edge. In addition to this, customer-centricity is improved by establishing and developing work communities.
A customer-centric approach is the foundation of change
Let’s explore the topic of this post by exploring a few practical benefits. When outlining the company’s transformation needs or redesign processes, either through strategic work or a concrete new product or service, it’s a good idea to write down the practical benefits offered by service design and the customer-centric approach it provides. To give you a better idea of the benefits, we've listed a few key ones here:
1. Customer-centric design brings added value
Incorporating your customer’s genuine needs and experiences into the transformation process, from planning to implementation and all the way to further development, is the key to success. By maintaining a customer-centric cycle, your company can achieve a clearer vision of how your service could be further improved and what new added value you could bring into your offering based on the trends and changes in user needs. A customer-centric approach provides answers to questions such as: “Where can we find more opportunities for providing added value and how might we deepen and broaden the services we offer to our customers? What are the problems our competitors are yet to solve?” In other words, service design is a customer-centric business model which constantly redefines the added value your service and business provides.
2. Customer-centricity positively reflects back onto your company, improving cost-effectiveness
By looking at the world through the lens of your customer, you learn to simplify processes by focusing on the value you can produce for your customer, identifying the steps and processes which through simplification result in an improved service and more efficient operations. In other words, service design is on the one hand a comprehensive user-centric method for producing new value, but on the other hand also a tool for analysing and streamlining your company’s operation models from a justified perspective; based on customer value.
Adopting a customer-centric approach makes your company more sensitive to change and reinvention, which is crucial for companies across all sectors in today’s fast-paced operating environment. It also allows your company to refine, allocate and justify the use of resources based on emerging customer needs as well as the added value provided by your service to the customer.
3. From a drop in the ocean to a wide-ranging ripple
Customer-centric service design produces happier customers and more satisfied employees, which both contribute to better customer retention and customer acquisition and, consequently, help your company grow. Service design also has a direct impact on your company’s cost-effectiveness and profitability thanks to streamlined processes and continuous development.
Whether your company is going through a transformation on a strategic, systems, or operational level, the change can only happen by taking action and getting your hands dirty rather than by arranging endless planning meetings. The added value the service design approach offers contrary to traditional change management strategies is the active and agile development of a customer-centric culture and operating model.
Hellon supports its clients at every step of the transformation, from the springboard all the way to the finish line. Get in touch to find out how we can help you achieve your vision by using the service design principles of reaching your business objectives by putting the customer first.
Interested in learning more about how to select the best service design partner for you? Read more in our Service Design Procurement Guide!