At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Customer Experience

Customer Experience Design and Service Design: Different, but the same…

What is Customer Experience Design (CXD), what is Service Design (SD) and what is the difference – the debate often rages here at DNA between practitioners and offices… but I think the answer is simple.

Many people assume CXD is more commercially driven by organisations that are in competitive segments, and that SD is focussed on when there is less competition or where the organisation can be more focussed on their needs, their processes, their ROI and on lowering their cost to serve. Not so. Its true, CXD overtly starts with the customer in mind, and SD is often employed because of change and or transformation. But that is too simple.

True of both is that they place users at the heart of the solution, and unless business value is clear, then a solution is not the right one. Important to both are changing technological, organisational, ethnographic and social science factors. Design is the common base of the service we deliver to each.

Customer experience design (CXD or just CX) is defined by being customer led, and is typically adopted by private sector organisation in competitive segments where customer service scan differentiate or improve user value or experience and therfore can make a difference to business and brand performance. The approaches used bring the customer to life and place the user at the centre of any service, product or channel.

Service Design is often seen as the domain of the public sector, and the way to approach transformation and lowering the cost to serve. It often starts with business drivers and factors the user experience gains possible in to a project – often a large programme of work.

In fact as we see it, they are one in the same. If you prioritise business value over user value (or vice versa) you are skewing the outcome and missing massive opportunity – in both public and private sectors. User centred design, design research, empathy and the like, balanced with business, and technical requirements are pivotal to the success of any project, be it a small iteration in customer experience in one channel or a full end to end service transformation.

In each case, a business or organisation should be looking to optimise channels, find efficiency, improve engagement and usage, unlock customer value and improve preference through any investment. We use lean UX, rapid prototyping, a highly agile and collaborative model, analytics, research, heaps of testing to ensure our projects will deliver to both a business and its users. 

We deploy the same people, the same processes and tools, and in many cases very similar approaches to deliver CX and SD assignments. Those tools include customer insight, journey mapping, service blueprints, developing personas and prototypes, a range of testing and more. Typically we collaborate, co-create, prototype, work with lean approaches and test like mad along the way.

They are different things, but they are way more alike than they can at first seem. Either way, unless you are clear on the problem you need to solve and how you'll measure effect, its probably to early to jump in to either.

For the record – this post was first published by Idealog – to see more of Grens ranting check out Idealog's design ruminations.

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