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Market Update: How much do Service Designers earn in Australia, 2022

By Academy Xi

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What is Service Design?

In today’s ultra-competitive markets, providing exceptional service is one of the surest ways to build brand differentiation, a loyal customer base and long-term business value.

Service Design is a Human-Centred Design practice that places equal focus on business processes and customer interaction, aiming to create seamless services and unforgettable customer experiences.

What does a Service Designer do?

Service Designers design the journey of a service from end-to-end. This involves orchestrating ‘front stage’ elements, which include aspects of a service that users interact with, as well as ‘backstage’ elements, which include aspects of a service that users don’t see. 

To give examples, the core elements that usually make up a service include:

  • Actors (e.g., staff members involved in delivering the service)
  • Location (e.g., a physical or digital environment where the service is delivered)
  • Props (e.g., objects used during service delivery)
  • Associates (e.g., external organisations involved in facilitating the service, such as a courier or logistics company)
  • Processes (e.g., workflows used to deliver the service)

Adopting a customer-centric approach, Service Designers will prioritise the user’s needs when planning all of the above touchpoints, combining them to form frictionless services that offer maximum customer satisfaction.  

What process does a Service Designer follow?

More often than not, a Service Designer’s process will fit into the five stage process of Design Thinking, which covers empathising, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing. 

Empathising often entails user research, which could involve interviewing customers to understand their lived experiences of a service. The research phase is intended to uncover all dimensions of a user’s needs. 

Service Designers then progress to defining the problem they intend to solve. Creating an actionable problem statement can help to secure stakeholder buy-in and kick-start the ideation phase.  

Throughout ideation, Service Designers collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders to generate a list of ideas, which are filtered down to the most practical and effective solutions. At this stage, it’s normal to hold co-creation workshops to establish the most viable design concepts. 

Service Designers use prototyping as a chance to replicate the final experience of using a service. Testing can be used to validate design choices and identify opportunities for refinement. The final stage of a Service Designer’s work involves preparing the finished Service Blueprint for handover. 

What skills are needed for Service Design?

Service Design is a multifaceted role that calls for a unique blend of skills and capabilities. Five of the most important skills that a Service Designer can have at their disposal include:

  • Empathy: At the very heart of the Service Design process is empathy and a burning desire to improve people’s lives. Service Designers need the ability to listen and engage with their users, so they can explore different perspectives and experiences. Service Designers often create Customer Journey Maps, which allow them to visualise step-by-step how a customer will interact with a service. 
  • User research: Any Service Design project will always begin with research, whether analytical or anecdotal. It’s crucial that Service Designers know how to ask open questions that elicit a deeper understanding of people’s needs and behaviours. Capturing a customer’s perception of their experience relative to their goals will directly inform how a service can be improved upon. Service Designers need to be able to analyse research data and turn insights into actionable solutions that can be incorporated into a service. 
  • Communication: Service Design normally involves cross-functional collaboration, which means they need to be able to engage staff at all levels and introduce new concepts to colleagues and stakeholders. Communication and presentation skills are essential to relationship building, influencing others, and educating people about a Service Design vision.
  • Prototyping & testing: Service Designers need to be able to bring ideas to life and test their practicality with early and inexpensive prototypes. Prototypes take many forms, from rapid and iterative, to physical and digital. Users will normally test out the prototype, giving Service Designers the chance to validate their design. User feedback will often determine which features are included in the final Service Blueprint.
  • Strategic thinking: Covering a broad sweep of an organisation, Service Designers are responsible for ensuring that all staff, infrastructure and resources are strategically aligned with a service vision. They need to hold a high-level view of a service in its totality, while also keeping a watchful eye on the details. Service Designers tend to be strong facilitators, who strategically coordinate the efforts of different teams and departments.   

Is Service Design a good career in Australia?

Research by Deloitte shows that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that neglect the same focus. Added to this, a PWC report has found that 32% of customers would stop using a brand they loved after one bad service experience. 

With all kinds of businesses acknowledging the benefits of creating frictionless services, the demand for Service Designers is climbing. A recent International Service Design Institute poll found that three quarters of Service Designers believe they have more employment opportunities than ever before. 

In Australia the demand for Service Designers is especially strong, with LinkedIn currently advertising more than 3,500 specialist roles

A Service Designer’s earning potential in Australia

Because Service Design can dramatically increase a business’s revenue and bottom line, earning potential for Service Designers in Australia is high.   

Can Service Designers be self-employed?

It’s not uncommon for Service Designers to be self-employed or freelance. Rather than being permanently employed by a single company, freelance Service Designers offer their expertise on a per-project basis or with a short-term contract. 

In order to attract clients, it’s vital that freelance Service Designers have a portfolio of past projects demonstrating the value they can add to a business. This means it’s normal for Service Designers to build up industry experience before transitioning to freelance. It’s also common for freelance Service Designers to find work opportunities by registering with a Service Design agency. 

Pay opportunities for freelance Service Designers in Australia are excellent, with an average hourly rate of $64.68.     

Where can I train as a Service Designer in Australia?

If you want to upskill and take your career in an exciting new direction, studying Service Design online can get you to where you want to be fast. At Academy Xi, we offer intensive online programs that equip you with the full spectrum of theoretical and practical skills needed to become a well-rounded Service Designer. 

Academy Xi Service Design Elevate courses come in two flexible formats, part-time and self-paced, with both offering you the chance to:

  • Access a toolkit of service design templates and techniques – it’s yours to keep and you can use it on the job straight away.
  • Demonstrate your strategic skills to employers by researching and creating an actionable current and future-state Service Blueprint.
  • Put the theory of Service Design into practice by working on weekly practical activities and hands-on projects.
  • Choose from a range of real-world scenarios or bring your own Service Design problem to solve.
  • Add value in any business by identifying customer needs, creating user stories and designing exceptional company-wide service experiences.

If you’ve got any questions about our Service Design courses or want to discuss your career options, chat to a course advisor.  

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