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What is Service Design and why is it important?

By Academy Xi

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We’ve compiled this list of questions most frequently asked about Service Design to help you understand what it’s like to start a high-impact career as a Service Designer.

  • Service Design and why it’s important
  • Service Design essentials
  • Service Design skills
  • Careers in Service Design
  • Industry demand for Service Design
  • Becoming a Service Designer

Already know you’d like to study Service Design? Get in touch with our Course Advisors to discuss training options, and check out the upcoming intake.

Service Design and why it’s important

What is Service Design?

With so many rival businesses competing for customers these days, offering outstanding service is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. 

Service Design is a Human-Centred Design practice that emphasises the needs of the customer and strategically organises a business’s people, infrastructure and processes to provide seamless services.

Improving the customer’s service experience can help increase brand differentiation and build customer loyalty, leading to sustainable long-term growth. As well as improving the customer’s experience, a business that champions good service often provides a productive and enjoyable working environment for employees.    

How do businesses use Service Design?

With markets evolving quicker than ever before, what a customer deems to be an amazing service can change in the blink of an eye. Paying attention to Service Design allows a business to remain connected to its customers, ensuring continuity of change and enabling it to meet their current and future needs. 

Service Design uncovers the criteria customers have for committing to a company and making a purchase, helping a business validate its offerings and identify opportunities for improvement.  

The impact of Service Design isn’t restricted to customer-facing departments. Having an end-to-end service blueprint helps all internal stakeholders comprehensively analyse the service experience, instead of viewing it as a series of scattered actions. This breaks down silos and brings departments together, paving the way for a more innovative and customer-centric business model.

What does a Service Designer actually do?

What do service designers do

A Service Designer looks holistically at a business and its customer interactions, aiming to create amazing service experiences that permeate a whole company. 

Although no two roles will ever be the same, some of the day-to-day tasks that go into being a Service Designer include: 

  • Performing customer research 
  • Prioritising service features
  • Designing a service blueprint
  • Coordinating different teams 
  • Assigning and managing tasks 
  • Liaising with stakeholders, both internal and external
  • Determining metrics for success
  • Collecting and analysing data  

Service Design essentials

What are people, props and processes?

In order to optimise a business’s service, Service Designers focus their efforts on three key types of resources:

  • People

This refers to anyone who creates, uses or is indirectly affected by a service. First and foremost, this involves customers and employees, but could even include business partners and external investors.

  • Processes

This refers to the workflows, procedures and rules needed to successfully deliver a service, including hiring and training new employees. Many processes are carried out behind the scenes, but will ultimately impact the customer’s service experience.  

  • Props

This includes the physical or digital artefacts used throughout a service, as well as business spaces such as shops and showrooms. This could also include the digital platforms that businesses use to interact with their customers, such as social media sites and online stores.

What are the front and backstage elements of Service Design?

Taking a holistic approach, Service Designers research and optimise the front and backstage elements of a service. 

Front stage elements include:

  • Shops 
  • Websites and apps
  • Customer-facing staff 
  • Emails and chatbots
  • Telephone conversations

Backstage elements include: 

  • Company processes and policies
  • Workflows and systems 
  • Infrastructure 
  • Tech
  • Staff training programs

When problems exist with backstage elements, they often have frontstage consequences, including poor service, inconsistent communication and customer frustration. Streamlining backstage processes improves the employees’ experience, which in turn allows them to create a better service experience.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s experience with a company. From gaining awareness of a brand via social media to the aftercare received from customer service, there are normally many steps in between that a customer journey map addresses.

Rather than predicting the experience of a service based on internal opinions, a customer journey map clarifies the physical and emotional responses to a service based on the customer’s perspective.

Customer journey maps provide an understanding of the needs and concerns of potential customers, which directly motivate or inhibit their actions as they interact with a brand. Service Designers use this information to enhance a business’s service, leading to increased customer retention.

What is a service blueprint?

A service blueprint is a diagram that visualises the relationships between the different components of a service – people, props and processes – all of which are directly tied to the different touchpoints in the customer’s journey.

Similar to customer journey maps, service blueprints are instrumental in planning how an end-to-end service will be delivered. Blueprinting is an ideal approach for planning services that are omnichannel, involve multiple touchpoints, or are coordinated by multiple departments.

Keep in mind that a business might have multiple service scenarios, which will lead to multiple blueprints. For example, a restaurant might have separate service blueprints for customers ordering takeout food versus customers who are dining-in.

Service Design Skills

service design skills academy xi

What skills does a Service Designer need?

A successful Service Designer will rely on a broad range of hard and soft skills when completing their day-to-day work. Here’s a shortlist of the fundamental skills that any aspiring Service Designer should aim to develop.

Hard skills

  • Commercial acumen 

Service Designers need to understand the target market, customer demographics, market demand and their business’s value proposition. Commercial acumen helps Service Designers deliver experiences that not only meet specific customer needs, but are also commercially viable.

  • Analytical skills

Service Designers rely on quantitative and qualitative data to understand a service from the perspective of customers, employees and other stakeholders. Analytical skills help Service Designers build sound, well-informed service blueprints that are based on data insights, rather than just their best guess.

  • Project management

Designing and implementing service improvements often involves coordinating input from multiple teams. A Service Designer relies on their project management skills to facilitate collaboration and ensure team members complete tasks according to a brief within set timelines.

  • User research

Any Service Design project will always begin with user research. 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.

  • Prototyping and 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. Customers will normally use the prototype, giving Service Designers the chance to test their design. Customer feedback will often decide which features are included in the final service blueprint.

Soft skills

  • 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 interact with their service users so they can explore different perspectives and experiences. Service Designers use their skills of empathy mapping to craft customer solutions and enhanced user experience.

  • Problem-solving

A Service Designer’s job involves multiple departments and many moving parts, which often leads to complications (budgetary constraints, conflicting beliefs, etc). A Service Designer with a problem-solving mindset can brainstorm ideas and identify solutions that will satisfy the customer’s demands as well as a business’s objectives.

  • Communication

Service Designers work cross-functionally, collaborating with anybody from tech teams to marketers. Strong communication skills enable Service Designers to secure stakeholder buy-in, nurture meaningful work relationships and align an entire company around a strategy.

  • Strategic thinking 

From the identification of improvement opportunities, to the development of a service blueprint and its implementation, Service Designers are often required to think strategically. Service Designers rely on their strategic skills to ensure that all teams, infrastructure and resources are properly organised to deliver incredible service experiences.

  • Decision-making

Inevitably, a range of choices have to be made when taking charge of an end-to-end service. Service Designers have to be able to weigh-up options, anticipate probable outcomes and make smart decisions that positively impact the service the customer receives.

Careers in Service Design

service design career demand australia

There are a wide variety of reasons to choose a career in Service Design. In particular, it’s a profession that’s highly sought after. These days, businesses in every industry understand that profitable companies are built on delivering great service.   

Before you embark on a career in Service Design, it’s useful to have a clear picture of what a typical pathway might look like. 

What does a career path in Service Design look like?

Here’s an example of a typical Service Design career pathway, broken down into roles of increasing responsibility and seniority: 

Junior Service Designer

The entry-level position that will kickstart many careers is a Junior or Associate Service Designer. Organisations with larger teams will often hire Junior Service Designers, who are normally freshly qualified in the field. 

Some of a Junior Service Designer’s responsibilities include: 

  • Assisting more senior Service Designers with their duties
  • Conducting customer research
  • Gathering and reporting on data

Mid-level Service Designer

After gaining a few years of entry-level industry experience, you’ll be well placed to apply for mid-level Service Design roles. Being a mid-level Service Designer is more strategic and relies on your ability to coordinate the efforts of different teams. 

A mid-level Service Designer’s responsibilities might include:

  • Identifying problem areas through key performance indicators
  • Proposing changes and improvements to the service experience
  • Liaising with other teams to implement an improved service 

Senior Service Designer

Once you’ve accumulated roughly 5 years of experience as a Service Designer, you’ll have the chance to move up to the role of Senior Service Designer. At this level, you’ll be taking on more serious responsibilities, which include:

  • Planning a company’s end-to-end service blueprint
  • Leading collaboration across cross-functional teams
  • Managing interactions with internal and external stakeholders
  • Setting the service vision for an entire company

Industry demand for Service Design

demand for service designers in australia

How high is the demand for Service Designers in Australia?

With businesses in every industry recognising the need to offer gold-standard service, Service Design is now one of the hottest roles in the employment market. 

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 particularly strong, with LinkedIn currently advertising more than 3,000 specialist roles

You should also remember a professional Service Designer’s skills are in demand globally, so wherever you find yourself living, you’ll have work experience and a resume that hiring managers are actively searching for. 

How much do Service Designers earn in Australia?

Because Service Designers are now highly sought after across a full range of industries, the pay opportunities in Australia have never been better. 

The average Service Designer salary in Australia at $119,178 per year (or $60.12 per hour). Even entry-level positions start at $109,421 per year, while more experienced Service Designers make $157,907 per year on average.

Becoming a Service Designer

How hard is it to learn Service Design?

Even for a complete beginner, mastering Service Design is not as hard as you might think. That said, it’s important you begin with a strong desire to connect with customer needs and think big-picture about how a business functions. 

You’ll need to learn how to manage the service experience from end-to-end and it takes time and dedication to grasp the research methods that underpin an effective service blueprint. 

If you’re aiming to get a foothold in the profession, you should consider earning a formal certification in Service Design. It will be difficult to secure your first role without this, since so many other applicants will have a certified skillset.

Where can I study Service Design?     

There are many options when it comes to qualifying as a Service Designer. In the past, many have chosen to take a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, which takes 3-4 years to complete, before specialising in Service Design.    

There’s less of an expectation for Service Designers to be university trained nowadays, with most employers favouring skills, experience and a strong portfolio over formal degrees. 

As a result, more people are enrolling in condensed bootcamp-style courses, which leave graduates industry-ready in a much shorter period of time. These courses focus on the tangible skills that today’s professionals need to make their mark on the industry.

What Service Design courses does Academy Xi offer?

Academy Xi offers practical, industry-recognised training that’s designed for digital careers. Our beginner-friendly Service Design courses will give you the hands-on skills and strategic mindset needed to design end-to-end services that focus on the customer’s experience at all touchpoints.

Whatever your lifestyle and time commitments, Academy Xi has a course that’s perfectly suited to you. 

Both courses have been built in collaboration with industry professionals from top digital companies, offering you the chance to:

  • Access a comprehensive toolkit containing all the templates and tools a Service Designer needs – 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 actionable current and future-state service blueprints. 
  • 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 company-wide approaches that ensure exceptional service.

Not sure which course is right for you? Chat to a course advisor and we’ll help you find the perfect match. 

Want to discuss your transferable skills and training options? Chat to a course advisor today. We’ll help you to find the perfect course so you can kickstart a career in the fight against cyber crime.

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