Silos Creative Works Brand Strategy

The role of service design in digital transformation: empowering companies to evolve

By Kimberley Emrick-Bryan, Vice-president, strategy, Genuine

Jack Morton


The Drum Network article

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April 19, 2023 | 7 min read

Kimberly Emrick-Bryan of Genuine at Jack Morton makes a case for doubling down on service design.

Mexican Train dominoes

The beauty of service design lies in integrated teams and long-term sustainability. / Mick Haupt

As a digital experience agency, we’re often brought in to consult on the customer experience (CX) aspects of digital transformation – helping companies think differently about user journeys, technology needs, and approaches to brand evolution, website redesign, and campaign planning.

In the past few years, the game has changed drastically, increasing pressure on brands to convert leads into revenue, differentiate themselves from the competition, and keep up with the ever-changing landscape, while lowering internal costs.

Stopgap solutions that aren’t

The disruption hasn’t just been an internal phenomenon. The abundance of mergers and acquisitions and the pervasiveness of staff turnover have complicated how companies operate. To keep pace with the demand, we see clients doing their best, which usually means reacting more than strategizing, bringing in vendors to achieve quick wins, and embarking on siloed solutions over holistic and interconnected approaches.

But the client-facing experience is only as strong as the internal foundation that supports it. Too often, the experience falls short, displeasing or confusing the target audience and resulting in more frustration than success.

Service design to the rescue

Service design – typically expressed through a service blueprint – is critical to bridging the gap between internal operations and external needs and touchpoints.

Like customer journey maps and user process flows, service blueprints are optimal for mapping complex scenarios, relationships, and interconnectivity across the organization. They are excellent companions to customer journey maps in their ability to correspond to the back-end staff, processes, tools, and touchpoints needed to support the customer’s needs and the business objectives.

Does your company need service design?

Companies might want to consider service design as an approach when: there’s a lack of organizational alignment around competing priorities and strategic direction; it’s unclear who owns the CX relationship and there’s no explicit authority to answer questions or give recommendations; there is little to no governance to support necessary changes around creating efficiencies and measuring success; when knowledge sharing is dispersed and inconsistent due to turnover or blending of internal operations; or when there are dispersed platforms or systems that don’t easily communicate – further widening silos and communication gaps between departments.

While we can certainly help our clients achieve quick wins, we also believe sustainable change requires investing in service design to understand the relationship between the internal and external environment – and to exercise discernment around where to invest for the strongest ROI. As the saying goes, if you seek efficiency, ‘measure twice, cut once’.

For companies still not convinced, there are several advantages to service design.

1. Support your customer experience

By reducing risk and enhancing opportunities to delight, service design ensures that the necessary people, processes, and tools are dedicated to supporting the CX across various touch points, which reduces risk and enhances opportunities to delight.

2. Save time and money

Service design breaks down silos, allowing decision makers to see beyond the project or departmental ask, creating a holistic framework to plan resourcing and delivery timing.

3. Empower staff

Service design creates a clear vision with an integrated approach that identifies responsibilities and areas for improvement, along with training and resource gaps.

4. Encourage innovation

Service design frees organizations to focus on innovating their offerings rather than repairing cracks in the foundation or filling knowledge gaps. Less reactive repairing enables more agility and more experimentation.

By creating a framework that provides a holistic view of an organization’s digital transformation opportunities, a service blueprint can serve as the baseline from which companies can decide how and when to move forward in their transformation journey while knowing that the blueprint can and should be revisited over time as needs change or user expectations and technologies shift.

It’s your call

True digital transformation requires thinking differently, not just about how companies engage the customer but also about how they operate to achieve their goals. There will always be pressure to find the latest and greatest technology, move fast, and keep pace with external change. Companies that create a solid internal infrastructure via service design will be best suited to support that change and will inevitably surpass those who prioritize quick wins.

Silos Creative Works Brand Strategy

Content by The Drum Network member:

Jack Morton

No one sets out to be average. No one aspires to be ordinary. Jack Morton is an award-winning global brand experience agency that exists to reimagine what an experience...

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