Service Design for Better Client Experience

Service Design is a name for a set of principles and methods to:

  • Identify and understand who your clients are, walk in their shoes to empathize with their situation, needs and experience
  • Unpack their needs and the problems that cause them to come to you to solve
  • Design a service so that it solves the problem that they came to you with, as well as the next or related problems that they will need to solve
  • Make it simple, intuitive and easy to use your service, creating flow and eliminating friction
  • Make the service accessible to all types of clients

Commonly-held principles in this field are:

  • Human-centered: Consider the experience of all the people affected by the service.
  • Collaborative: Stakeholders of various backgrounds and functions should be actively engaged in the service design process.
  • Iterative: Service design is an exploratory, adaptive, and experimental approach, iterating toward implementation.
  • Sequential: The service should be visualized and orchestrated as a sequence of interrelated actions
  • Real: Needs should be researched in reality, ideas prototyped in reality, and intangible values evidenced as physical or digital reality.
  • Holistic: Services should sustainably address the needs of all stakeholders through the entire service and across the business.

Service Design, particularly when incorporating the principles of other disciplines such as Lean and Agile/Scrum, offers a number of benefits:

  • Poor design of websites, forms, templates and tools frequently create failure demand, or rework, that consumes staff capacity and frustrates clients.   We have worked with groups who spend 50% or more of their capacity on this failure demand.
  • Many Lean practitioners focus excessively on process, or back-office processes, without deeply understanding the experience of clients with the front-office, and thus miss out on the reason why clients behave the way that they do.  Or worse, they don’t understand the true outcome that the client is trying to achieve, so they end up creating processes that simply do the wrong thing faster.
  • The smoother the service experience, the more likely clients are to use the service, and to promote the service to others
  • This approach typically examines the client’s entire service journey, from end-to-end – not just the part of the journey that we see.  In understanding the entire end-to-end journey, service providers often gain insights on client thinking patterns and needs.  These needs are simply not visible when service providers look only at the part of the service journey that is visible to them.

In this content area, we cover:

  • Why invest in Service Design
  • What the principles of good service design are
  • What the tools are, and how you apply them
  • What a good service looks like
  • How to assess your current service
  • Client journey mapping
  • Failure demand and preventable work
  • Unpacking and differentiating between client needs and wants
  • Client / Stakeholder analysis
  • Ideation of new service designs
  • Iteration and experimentation
  • Creating a routine to continuously improve service design
Seddon, J. (2019, October 28). Failure Demand: John Seddon Vanguard Consulting. Vanguard.

Service Design. (2008, November 13) In Wikipedia. - cite_note-:10-23


  • One-hour talk
  • One day group/team multi-day training workshops for Lean or Agile/Scrum practitioners to develop their service design skills
  • Consulting engagements to work side-by-side with you to assess your current service design, identify gaps and close those gaps.