Using service design to improve customer experience, resulting in operational benefits and better business results overall

In this blog post, we take a deeper look at one of Hellon’s service design projects and explain how service design methods can help you achieve measurable benefits that have a positive impact on your business. Everyone looking to invest in service design wants to ensure their project is a success, so keep reading if you want to find out how Hellon can help you achieve this.

Service design helps you create a unique customer experience

You might already have read about Hellon and Musgrave Group's joint “Baby” project, in which the Irish food retailer and wholesaler used service design to improve the customer experience of parents of young children by creating a compelling value proposition as well as an excellent customer experience that sets Musgrave Group apart from its competitors. All this had a positive impact on Musgrave's targets and translated to a € 5 million increase in turnover.

The background to the project was a fierce price competition in the baby food and products segment in Ireland, which retailers were involved in. As a principle, Musgrave Group did not want to differentiate themselves through price-cutting and therefore looked into other ways of standing out, such as offering fresh and high-quality products, great service and an excellent customer experience.

“We are faced with a world in which competition is ever increasing. New companies working in new ways are founded every day and differentiation based purely on price is no longer guaranteed to offer a competitive advantage. It’s therefore important to find other ways of standing out, as modern customers not only compare quality and prices but also the best experiences,” says Lead Service Designer & Art Director Lotta Julkunen of Hellon’s London office, who has vast experience in service design and customer experience development.

The business impact of service design

How can you use the qualitative methods of service design to improve financial results and achieve concrete results? In other words, how do apply service design to develop and improve your business and ensure its success?

According to Julkunen, the connection between service design and successful business operations is clear. Julkunen explains that numbers, statistics and other quantitative data, while outlining what works and what doesn’t work in the organisation, provide very little insight into what needs to be changed and how it should be done:

“In a traditional company survey, you can measure how good a certain thing is and whether it works or not. However, when your goal is to plan or do something better, you need a qualitative approach which provides insight into the root-cause(s) of the problem.

When the opportunities deriving from customer insights are identified at the research stage, they can be linked to your company's internal strategies and a potential business case can be developed. The intended customer experience is then tested with an open mind using low-fidelity customer experience prototypes, which allow you to identify any risks and investments that are worth executing.”

Using service design methodologies therefore enables you to identify business opportunities, risks and investments that have a significant impact on customer experience. When qualitative research has been applied to gain understanding of the current customer experience and its pain points, your company is in an excellent position to improve the customer experience. 

“When you are aware of these aspects, you can develop an improved customer experience in line with the company strategy based on the opportunities identified. At the ideation stage, hypotheses are created about how the improved customer experience could improve your business operations and a plan for testing is devised. The new experience is then measured and tested with the help of prototypes to assess how the new customer experience affects customer satisfaction and what its impact on operations is”, Julkunen clarifies.

This allows the organisation to assess the financial benefits of the change while minimising the risk of making miscalculated investments. To put it simply, using service design to improve customer experience translates into running your business in a better way. 

Musgrave Group achieved an improved customer experience and increased revenue through service design 

In the “Baby” project, Hellon used the traditional service design process known in the industry as the Double Diamond Model. This process begins with a phase of vast and carefully conducted qualitative research, which focuses on engaging the customer in efficient and insightful dialogue. Prior to conducting the primary research, the project team identifies who they want to reach in order to achieve the goals that have been set. Together with Musgrave, Hellon’s service designers determined that they want to engage both Musgrave and its competitors’ customers at the research stage.

Following this, qualitative research methods were applied to gain in-depth insight into the needs of Musgrave customers, as well as the everyday context from which their needs arose. This enabled the identification of challenges customers faced and opportunities for how the experience could be improved. Customers were engaged in the research e.g. through a diary study, in which they were asked to keep a diary of the challenges they face in their day-to-day life and their shopping experiences, especially when buying groceries. The diaries, along with a compilation of data from hour-long in-depth interviews, were then clustered into various themes from which 40 different opportunity areas were identified. These opportunity areas became drivers for which Hellon and Musgrave could start developing concepts/ solutions, and a customer experience that would differentiate Musgrave from competitors. The concepts were further prioritised based on the impact they had on the business objectives of the project, and finally the selected concepts were tested in Musgrave stores using prototypes.   

Following a successful prototyping phase, the trialled changes were implemented in five different Musgrave stores, with more to come. The results show that the project not only increased Musgrave's revenue but also improved customer experience, which in turn had a clear impact on the brand image and increase in customer satisfaction.

hellon_infographic_frameworkThe aim of a cyclical customer experience development process is to improve business operations.

Hellon’s strengths lie in customer-centricity, business acumen and artificial intelligence

No company can exist without its customers, and this is also where our customer-centric approach stems from here at Hellon. Although all businesses are built upon the goal of producing value for and understanding their customers, the importance of building a competitive advantage cannot be stressed enough. The Hellon way of engaging customers and decision-makers in the process, along with our unique service model tailored to each of our client’s individual needs, prove our ability to galvanise change and generate improvements through service design. This, in turn, helps our clients develop their business operations and ultimately improve their turnover.

According to Julkunen, Hellon's strengths are based on the following:

1. Prototyping

Hellon tests prototypes together with customers in a Live Lab, a collaborative prototyping method in which a simulation of the new and improved customer experience is created with the help of prototypes. Both customers and company stakeholders are involved in the simulation's testing process, which provides fertile ground for new ideas and inspiration. In practice, this means that the company, customer and service design agency together simulate and analyse the results of a new experience. This enables agile and accurate measurement of the impact of the new experience and allows for prioritisation of the most crucial investments necessary. Additionally, prototyping enables the optimisation of resources and ensures miscalculations are avoided.   

2. Co-creative methods, or co-design.

All Hellon service design projects contain co-design workshops which bring together the organisation's employees and decision-makers, ensuring the involvement and commitment of employees in the project. Although Hellon as a service design and customer experience expert facilitates the change, it is the client organisation itself that has a core understanding of their industry and goals. Hence, we always ensure that our client retains the ownership of the project and the designed solutions. Co-creation, as well as constant interaction, is imperative to designing functional and excellent innovations that benefit the customer long term.

3. People

The people of Hellon are creative, empathetic and analytical, and possess a deep understanding of business processes. We are a team of creative minds and leading experts in the fields of customer research and customer experience. Simultaneously, developing business operations supported by customer understanding, and achieving business impact, has always been close to our hearts. 

4. Introducing AINO™, the Hellon artificial intelligence

AINO, or the Hellon AI, is one of our most important trump cards, ensuring that quantitative data also fuels our research. Artificial intelligence offers more tools for proving the impact of individual measures. In a way, AINO also “listens” to the customer through handling massive amounts of customer data, and then creates more detailed insights that, above all, support prioritisation and decision-making. Insights produced by AINO can be used in the planning and direction of customer experience, such as in the assessment of focus areas for investments related to customer experience.

With our service design approach, we develop solutions that facilitate business development and help our clients achieve their business objectives. This is supported by the ability of service design to prove each claim with the help of hypotheses and prototyping. By harnessing customer-centric service design as the driving force of change, you ensure that you can provide an excellent customer experience while achieving the targets set for your organisation's business operations.

If this piqued your interest in how service design could be used in your organisation, download our Service Design Procurement Guide below. In it, we share our tips for selecting the best partner for your organisation to work with:

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