Should Service Design Be Client-Centered?

Previously we have written a lot on how it’s important to know what your customer thinks, feels and experiences when it comes to the service. It is true, yet just a small part of the whole picture: service design is not only about thinking from your customer’s perspective.

The whole idea of service design is based on creating people-centered solutions. The key word here is “people”. And customers are by far not the only people that participate in service process.

The network of service stakeholders expands much broader: customer service employees, partners, competitors, etc. One may be surprised by the results of a detailed stakeholder analysis – sometimes we forget how many people are actually influenced and influencing our service. Ideally we should take all of them into account.

So the first step here would be mapping the stakeholders. How do we do that? The easiest way is to do that in three steps:

1)   Who are the people who participate in service encounter directly? Usually that would be clients and customer service employees, but the list could be longer.

2)   Who is involved in the service, yet does not directly participate on the service encounter? For example it could be sales manager, supplier, client’s family etc.

3)   Who are the stakeholders that have the power to influence the service, yet never participate in the service encounter? The answer could be state institutions, competitors and so on.

After you have mapped the stakeholders it’s also useful to see how do they influence the service process and also each other.

stakeholder map

What should we do with this information? It’s obviously too hard to design a service that would take into account absolutely every stakeholder’s point of view. Yet what definitely should be taken into account – is the “inner circle” of service. And this means, that we need to let go of the excessive client-centered approach.

It’s very hard to create a superior service experience for a customer if some of the other stakeholders that he interacts with during the service encounter are annoyed or unhappy. Therefore the challenge of service design is to create a service that is enjoyable, useful and usable for all the parties involved.