How to achieve results and avoid pitfalls using service design

Service design is a proven methodology for enhance the success of a business while producing measurable results. The key to a successful service design project is adopting a systematic approach, having the courage to try something new and a positive mindset. On the other hand, it's also easy to derail a service design project if the employees are not fully committed or if the project hasn't been properly planned. With nearly 1,000 successfully executed projects under our belt, we have the ability to give you the best tips which help you avoid any pitfalls. Here, we also give you some concrete pieces of advice to ensure the success of your service design project and achieving the results you seek.

1. Commit to changing your way of thinking.

Service design is an approach which aims to uncover how an organisation can develop and succeed through customer experience improvements, customer-centricity, and cultural transformation.  

Oftentimes, service design projects require you to change your way of thinking, from technical troubleshooting to examining matters from a customer-centric perspective. Traditional waterfall-model projects, in which the end result is defined long before the project is even started, no longer work, so companies must dare to try new approaches and brand-new tools. Instead of focusing on the end result, service design emphasises the functional nature of the problem at hand. This means that when designing, for example, a technically polished user interface, a service designer would ask the user of the service “How could we further improve this?”

2. Connect service design to the execution of the corporate strategy.

Using service design, it is possible solve key business challenges, however, to succeed in this, the approach must be actively promoted to senior management. Service design projects should never be a collection of loosely connected initiatives, such as only developing applications or improving customer service. If you fail to link service design to the company's strategic goals and the desired impact, the project will easily become a separate side project you tinker with occasionally, meaning it will never realise its full potential and impact.

3. Start from quick-wins.

To convince senior management of the operational advantages and business impact of service design, begin with smaller projects culminating in results that can be seen, felt and numerically proven. These “quick-wins” provide you with leverage and support, as well as allow the results and approach to speak for themselves when it comes to convincing senior management of the benefits. In a previous blog post, you can read more about how our successful partner Musgrave Group increased their revenue by € 5 million, amongst other successes, through the systematic application of service design during the span of one project.

4. The route to success is a marathon, not a sprint.

During different stages of a service design project you might ask yourself “What are we going to achieve with this?” or “Is this all in vain?”. If in doubt, remind yourself to trust in the process that starts from engaging your customers and users of the service and in which you test the solutions you’ve created and make prototypes. Although things might seem complicated, remember that the service design process is rooted in a stable and proven model. Service design is an effective approach for improving customer experience in a sustainable manner by encouraging the entire organisation to adopt a more customer-centric culture. This, in turn, has a direct and positive impact on the company's growth and profitability.

5. Gain support from sponsors. 

Having the support of your company's managing director or another key senior executive is extremely valuable when it comes to driving a service design project. Remember to seek the support of a person like this at the very beginning of the project. Having this support gives you the mandate to do things in a new, systematic way in the long term.

When choosing your supporting troops, we recommend first approaching people for whom the benefits of service design produce the most added value. If your goal is, for example, to improve customer experience and increase sales, it makes sense to ask the managing, CX, sales or marketing director to support your project. Alternatively, if you can prove that your service design project could help your company improve employee satisfaction, commitment and update working methods, the HR or strategy manager would surely be interested to hear about your project.

6. Report and communicate the results constantly.

Share information about the interim or final results of the service design project regularly within the company. A service design project is characterised by constant development, so remember to let your colleagues know about the key aspects of even the smallest advancements and do not keep interim results under wraps. Reporting the results and updating your colleagues on how the project is progressing is extremely important in terms of making everyone at the company feel committed.

Do not forget to tell your colleagues about the service design project and its phases and the new means of development, but keep in mind who you're reporting to; senior management is likely to be more interested in detailed analysis of the results and data than those working directly with customers are. However, ensure everyone in the organisation has access to the results, and tailor the communication based on the impact on different roles and responsibilities. 


All in all, service design is an effective approach for achieving quick-wins, as well as ensuring long-term benefits for your company. Service design allows you to set, direct and measure both quantitative and qualitative goals while also monitoring and reporting financial figures. If you would like to realise your vision and offer the best customer experience in your field, it’s time to harness the strengths of service design tools and methodologies!

If you need support in your service design journey, we recommend collaborating with a partner. In our Service Design Procurement Guide, which you are able to download below, you can explore some of our tips for selecting the best partner for you.

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