Services Have to Be Designed

Tangibel Products (Goods) are the object of product development and design before they are launched onto the market.
However, as Gummesson (1989b) observes, “we have yet to hear of service designers” (p. 84).  Rathmell (1974) noticed over fifteen years ago that “new services happen,” rather than being formally developed.  Unfortunately, this seems to be the case in too many situations even today.  Services are not carefully designed before they are produced.  However, if good and consistent service quality is to be maintained, service design has to be a forethought and not just an object for corrective actions after mistakes have happened (Gummesson 1988 and 1989b; compare also Berry 1988).
One of the main reasons for the absence of service design processes is the fact that there is no tradition of service design.  Or, if there is a planned design process, it is not in the hands of people who have a thorough understanding of the needs and wishes of the market and of the consumers of the services to be designed.  In the private sector, operations is often responsible for design-related issues, although no formal design takes place as in manufacturing firms; and in the public sector people with training in law are given responsibility for designing services, which makes legal matters exceedingly more important than customer benefits and customer satisfaction aspects (Gummesson 1989b).  In some parts of the private service sector, for example, the insurance industry, this may be the case as well.  The services developed become rigid and production oriented.
If a service is not well designed, quality problems follow.  The opinion of customers and of the service provider as to what services should be and how they should function easily remain totally different, or different enough so that a gap between the expected service and the experienced service emerges.  Consequently, customer perceived service quality deteriorates.
However, there are some new approaches to service design today. Service blueprinting is the most well known.
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One thought on “Services Have to Be Designed

  1. A service is the intangible equivalent of economic goods.

    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

    For example, a restaurant may choose to have a Service Design agency change the way its menu is set out, or change the layout of the restaurant to improve the customer’s experience.

    Customers can mean paying patrons, but also can be within an organization, so long as they are the direct recipients of a service e.g. an organization implements a new payroll interface for its staff – therefore the staff are effectively ‘customers’ of the payroll interface.

    To do this, Service Design methodologies are used to plan and organize people, infrastructure, communication and material components used in a service. The increasing importance and size of the service sector, both in terms of people employed and economic importance, requires services to be accurately designed in order for service providers to remain competitive and to continue to attract customers.

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