the breakthrough of service design – 4 key insights of ServDes 2018

6 Jul 2018

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1. The world of service design is growing fast

The service design field is still relatively young. So young, in fact, that the sector has not yet come up with a clear name for it. Some speak of innovation design, others call it customer experience design and most go for service design, as it appears at the ServDes conference. Yet it is clear that this blend of business and design is gaining ground. The ‘Service Design Map‘ of the Politecnico di Milano, presented in Milan, shows that hundreds of studies, agencies and research centers are now involved in service design. An enormous growth, if you consider that about 10 years ago nobody cared about this.

2. Service design enters the boardroom

The transition from a product-driven economy to a service-driven economy is in full swing. As a result, service design is playing an increasingly important role in business strategy.

“It was also confirmed again in Milan: more frequently service designers are sitting at the table in the boardroom and are involved in the strategic course of a company.”

Design is no longer just about beautiful visualizations and illustrations. More and more organizations see the value of service design for their overall business strategy. We already saw this at Essense, of course, through our projects for PostNL and Schiphol, among others. It was also confirmed again in Milan: service designers are increasingly sitting at the table in the boardroom and are involved in the strategic course of a company.

3. Amsterdam is an important service design hub

The Service Design Map mentioned is clear: the Netherlands plays a big in the service design world. Amsterdam in particular is strongly represented in terms of agencies and a lot is also happening in Delft, Rotterdam and Eindhoven. In Europe, with London, Milan and the Scandinavian capitals as key hubs in addition to Amsterdam, the service design movement once started, but interesting developments are now taking place all over the world. Take South Korea: a few years ago, service design was not yet a topic there, but now there are already various majors and research centers.

4. Service designers need to look beyond customer satisfaction

As service designers, we are only concerned with one thing: satisfied customers. After all, a good customer experience plays a crucial role in the success of an organization.

From a human-centered design perspective, everything we design is therefore aimed at providing an optimal experience for a specific customer or user. However, there is also a pitfall: some companies are so focused on meeting customer needs that this can be at the expense of their own staff. Everything has to be faster, better and cheaper, resulting in low wages, long working hours and stress. This creates a paradox that suddenly makes human-centered design a lot less ‘human’. This is especially the case with organizations where the product or service has become a ‘commodity’, without a real relationship with the customer. As a service designer, we are able to guide organizations through this process like no other, while guarding the balance between the experience of the customer and that of the employee.

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