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.

Why Net Promoter Score?

customerreviewpeopleToday large number of companies all over the world use the NPS index (Net Promoter Score) to measure customer satisfaction and get quick hints for development. This is despite of fact that the method of this metric is only about ten years old. NPS main principle is trivial and linear – client recommends only those brands or companies whose goodness he is sure of.

Opponents argue that the measure does not give the full picture, and often requires interpretation. Having experienced variety of different in-depth researches, I would argue that NPS one of the most effective support engine for customer focused rapid changes for an enterprise.

One of the most significant NPS secrets to success lies in the simplicity and speed for both – the company and the customer.

Companies often experience a difference in evaluation given to the company and the service staff. Why? And what to for improvement the evaluation ?

Assessments given to the company and to the employee are almost always different and in favor to the last. The better the rating for the company and the lesser the difference with the employee’s grade, the stronger is the company’s position in the market.

The most important factor on business assessment is of course the quality of specific service situation. If this is weak, it usually always has negative effect to the company results.

Another significant factor, in order to improve the company evaluations is the brand – if its content is understandable and is positively visible. In other words it’s communication presence in media, social media, personalized communications efficiency (e-commerce helps a lot in here) and public visual identity.

Recommendations:

1. increase your footprint in social media

2. enhance bilateral regular communication in e-sales and e-service channels, which has great potential to support business communication capabilities

3. pay attention whether the company’s external brand identity coincides with the displayed messages and is not confusing.

Compliance with recommendations above has a positive impact to the NPS / customer loyalty and hence the company’s financial results!

 

Is waiting a part of service experience?

Average American spends 2 to 3 years of his life waiting in a line. How much do your clients need to wait during their service experience? Perhaps not every client and not in every service situation, but they surely spend a while waiting.

It’s quite common that service provider’s effort to improve service experience is focused on finding ways to reduce wait time. This is definitely necessary but whatever you do, you can never eliminate waiting 100%.

Why clients couldn’t just wait? Well, they could, but that tends to damage the overall service experience and reduce repurchase intentions. We really don’t like to wait. If we need to – we become anxious. The longer we wait, the more negative emotions pile up. For example if you feel quite tired after a long day and need to wait for your queue standing up for a couple of minutes – that’s not a big deal. Yet after twenty minutes of waiting you would be quite twitchy already. What’s even more important, when we have nothing to do – time seems to pass by much slower.

This is why the content of customers’ wait time is clearly underestimated compared to comfort during that same period (which, let’s face it, gets much more attention when designing a service). The question here is: how could we ensure that while waiting our customer maintains (or even improves) his positive mood?

The classical examples of giving customer something to do while sitting in a queue would be brochures in the bank or magazines at the hairdresser’s. These aren’t bad examples if the content of the reading materials is chosen with care and matches the service journey in general.

To summarize all that: the main challenge of service designers, in order to make sure that the wait doesn’t ruin the overall impression, is to fill that time with content that completes the service experience in a way that the customer doesn’t feel that his time was wasted.