Service Design Insights from DOERS 2019

On April 25th over 480 service design professionals and enthusiasts – both from the agency world and in-house - gathered in Budapest for the 2nd DOERS conference. Over the course of the day conference attendees were treated to inspiring presentations, engaging and interactive workshops, and finally networking and drinks under a clear blue, sunny sky. Hellon was invited to host a workshop about design games at the DOERS conference, but luckily we also had some time to sneak away to listen in on some of the presentations.

Delivery is the strategy

Lou Downe from the UK Government Digital Service kicked off the conference on the topic of transformation, and the role of design in helping organisations become and remain relevant. She highlighted the importance of continuous innovation in this age of rapid change, and a mentality of “delivery is the strategy” – if we spend too much time defining and developing, times may already have changed when a service is launched. This is where low-fidelity testing and iteration really takes centre-stage, allowing for delivering and maintaining a service over time.

Following Lou, Mauro Rego spoke about the Craft of Service Design, and the risks of just providing organisations with various toolkits, without the education and experience that play a pivotal part in design thinking. He highlighted the importance of embedding design thinking in organisations and allowing the design approach to scale, whilst ensuring the expertise and creative mindset of design professionals is not lost.

Embedding service design in large organisations

Following a coffee break, we were introduced to the opportunities and challenges of internal service design departments in organisations, through presentations by Claudia Pollina from Vodafone, Silke Bochat from PepsiCo, Bartek Lechowski from IKEA, and Mariana Machado from Accor Hotels. Claudia spoke about Vodafone’s journey towards becoming an increasingly digital telco and the challenges of introducing new ways of working in a siloed and conventional organisation. Having spent some time rotating between different departments, she stressed the importance of finding ambassadors across the organisation and understanding the challenges different departments face to ensure solutions designed meet internal needs, not only making customers’ lives easier. Silke echoed Claudia’s sentiments, and highlighted the need for convincing senior decision makers, and ensuring designers have a robust understanding of how the organisation works, from strategies and operations to frontline.

Bartek took us through the journey IKEA has been on when embracing a customer-focused strategy, and the effects on employee experience as a result. Prompting quite a few laughs, Bartek began by likening the IKEA customer experience to Cinderella’s journey. In the beginning, everything is quite bleak, Cinderella is bullied and kept a prisoner by her stepsisters and stepmother (= parking at IKEA and massive queues), then things really perk up with the arrival of the fairy Godmother (= meatball break!), and then she goes to the ball and meets Prince Charming (= customers find the things they were looking for). Then everything falls apart, the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella’s dress disappears, the carriage turns into a pumpkin... you know the story (= arriving at the queue) but then finally things end on happy note when the shoe fits (= ice-cream time). Stories aside, IKEAs focus on customer experience revolves around making shopping easy, listening to customers, and using a pinch of human magic – requiring commitment from employees. Understanding that employee experience massively impacts customer experience, IKEA listened closely to employee needs, and among other things increased salaries for all employees, a difficult decision from an organisational perspective with some compromises having to be taken with regards to the P & L account. “Transformation is sometimes painful, but customer experience pays off” was the key message, with IKEA promoters visiting on average almost twice as much compared to other customers.

Mariana Machado from Accor Hotels also spoke of the importance of employee experience and truly involving employees in strategy work. She took the audience through Accor’s Heartist (heart + artist) journey, in which Accor employees from all levels across the world took part in defining Accor’s customer experience strategy and principles. Through the work, each hotel gained a couple of Heartist Ambassdors, who upheld the values and Heartist principles throughout the organisation. This also allowed all Accor brands to align with the overall values, rather than competing with each other on separate principles.

Increased collaboration through gamification

Following the lunch break, we had to step away from the main stage for a few hours to prepare for and host our interactive workshop on the topic of Design Games. Around 25 participants had signed up to the session, hosted by Hellon’s Maria Jaatinen, who has extensive experience in using a gamified approach in a variety of industries and for multiple purposes, including citizen participation, employee development, strategy development and future scenario building. The workshop began with an introduction to design games, their application, and the benefits of applying a gamified approach – such as creative thinking, uniting people advocating different perspectives, building a common language around a topic, and prompting participation.

To really showcase the benefits of design games, we arranged a 30 minute interactive activity in which participants actually got to test a design game in action. Games often aim to bring multiple stakeholders representing varying perspectives together to discuss needs and come up with solutions. Participants were so engrossed in conversation that it felt like the workshop ended much too early, and many stayed on to discuss the experience with us. We were very happy to see the participants were so engaged, and hope they enjoyed the game session.

Organisations are becoming more aware of the business value of design

Finally, Oliver King closed the conference with a positive message for all of us working on improving services and customer experience. 89% of organisations believe customer experience is a key differentiator and competitive advantage in the coming years. We would agree – great service design is all about connecting with people’s emotions, something our digital, always-on, distracted world is often in dire need of.

We thoroughly enjoyed the conference, although we were sad to miss some of the excellent speakers and workshops - big thanks to the DOERS team and we hope to be back next year! Here are some of our key take-aways from DOERS 2019:

  • “Delivery is the strategy” – Our world is rapidly changing and we need to design for future re-design
  • Find balance – Internal capability + design expertise = success
  • Understand the business/organisation you are designing for – On every level
  • Involve employees – Employee and customer experience go hand-in-hand
  • Make the world a better place – Remember the emotional connection design can build

Who are we?

Hellon is on a mission to co-create future success that matters. We challenge traditional ways of working by using a co-creative, customer-centric approach and design methods to improve customer and employee experience. With global experience across various industries and the public/private sectors, we have helped organisations build strategic design competency, improve their customer/employee journey and experience and create innovative solutions. If you have any questions about Hellon, our previous work or service design and the design approach in general, don’t hesitate to contact us.