Drill down. Who Owns Service Design?

August 18, 2014

Anyone who's worked in marketing for a while will tell you that marketing has become increasingly complex, and its role in the corporation is in a major state of flux.

This is well reflected in this month's Harvard Business Review article 'The Ultimate Marketing Machine,' which paints a picture of the Marketing Director as an orchestrator in the organisation, influencing and coordinating many different stakeholders and teams to deliver on the Brand promise.

As marketing's role expands, and delivery relies more on influence than direct control, many marketers are turning to service designers to help in this process.

The definition of service design, how it’s used, and who drives it’s application in an organisation is in a state of flux. It’s fair to say that this is a new and evolving discipline.

 Mike Culverwell, Director, Engine Service Design describes it as:

“The design process that draws out people’s innate creative and collaborative spirit and directs it in a definable and measurable way to successfully generate and turn ideas into reality.”

This seems to us to be quite a broad description of a design process, not necessarily specific to what we perceive as service design ourselves.

Kerry Bodine, Customer Experience Analyst at Forrester defines the intersection between service design, user experience (UX), and customer experience (CX) like this:

“User experience primarily focuses on the design and development of digital interactions…
Customer experience focuses on the design, implementation, and management of interactions that happen across the entire customer journey…Service design, like customer experience, focuses on the design and implementation of interactions that happen across the entire customer journey. Service designers also design the behind-the-scenes activities that enable those experiences to be delivered as planned.”

This is a pretty good description of a service design project we’re currently working on – in fact the project covers all three!

The objective is to transform service delivery into something, which can command a premium brand positioning for the company. We're looking at all aspects of the customer journey, the processes needed to fulfill it, and the systems needed to facilitate it.

With such a broad remit, you might ask "who owns service design?" Well, the working group is necessarily very broad. We have representatives from Marketing, Operations, IT, Finance and Customer Service. Whilst the person driving this initiative is the Marketing Director, their vision has gone way past the traditional confines of the role. But they are definitely driving this project, and can fairy be described as the owner of the process.

What is increasingly apparent though, is that the responsibility to deliver on the vision of the project relies not only on marketing, but on-the-ground staff and operations. The business has recognised this, and made him both Marketing and Operations Director. 

Whilst we’re not suggesting that this is going to become a trend, we definitely believe that successful brands will need their marketing leaders to be flexible enough to combine visionary creativity with operational practicality in order to continue innovating in increasingly competitive and complex situations. We also believe that service design will become an increasingly useful tool to help with the task.