Service Design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service, in order to improve its quality, the interaction between service provider and customers and the customer’s experience.
It appears that service design is gaining traction in many design schools, and even has an international network of academics and professionals.
Three main directions:
- Identify the actors involved in defining the services
- Define possible service scenarios, verify use cases, sequences of actions and actors’ role, in order to define the requirements for the service and its logical and organisational structure
- Represent the service, using techniques that illustrate all the components of the service, including physical elements, interactions, logical links and temporal sequences
Yet unlike traditional design, a service is both tangible and intangible. From the Wikipedia article:
“It can involve artifacts and other things including communication, environment and behaviours. Several authors emphasize that, unlike products, which are created and “exist” before being purchased and used, services come to existence at the same moment they are being provided and used. While a designer can prescribe the exact configuration of a product, s/he cannot prescribe in the same way the result of the interaction between customers and service providers, nor can s/he prescribe the form and characteristics of any emotional value produced by the service.”
Just finished This Is Service Design Thinking which provides a great overview of the topic and is generally a luscious textbook.