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

Service Design

Stockholm Syndrome

sd stockholm

Being situated in such a remote location, at the bottom of the world, New Zealand suffers from a healthy dose of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Subsequently, we sometimes lack confidence in how we engage in design and innovation activities, looking toward our European and American cousins for inspiration and guidance.

I was recently fortunate enough to attend the Service Design Global Conference in Stockholm. It was a great opportunity to dispel my personal FOMO whilst locating service design and CX practice at DNA amongst overseas studios and considering New Zealand’s place on the global stage.

What follows are four personal takeaways from the conference. 

Experience is key.

You expect a conference about the design of services, hosted by people who design services, to be perfect. I was surprised by some of the errors and inconsistencies that occurred during the conference, which only served to confirm that where there are service gaps in a customer’s journey, they often become the negative takeaways that stick in the mind. Ensuring customers have a consistently great experience, with all the experience creases ironed out, is essential for companies who want to remain competitive.

Service and customer experience design is not easy. Everywhere.

It seems that no matter where you are in the world, you encounter the same challenges designing services. Siloed organisations, services designed from an organisational perspective, projects defined by technology, a reticence to invest in customer research because companies “already know the customer”, projects de-railed by internal politics. The list could go on, but what was apparent is that the companies who are innovating and gaining customer advocacy are persevering, collaborating and providing the right environment to enable design-led innovation to thrive.

Show the impact of design.

Whether designing internal services or an individual touchpoint, we have to get better at proving the impact of design. Other disciplines are experts at illustrating their value through the use of various metrics and benchmarks. As an industry we need to get smarter and find new ways to measure impact using quantitative and qualitative data. When we can show impact and value across a business and for customers, then we can stop evangalising about how important design is. Because everyone is bored with that, right?

Right here, right now, we are actually pretty good.

I enjoyed the conference presentations and workshops, but nothing “blew my mind”. I sat in workshops thinking “we could have done this better” and I heard lots of people talking about what we are striving to achieve in the CX team – producing impact for organisations by making innovation tangible.

This made me reflect on the caliber of work we are doing, not just at DNA, but also across New Zealand, by different design agencies and across government. The fact is that great service design and CX is happening in New Zealand. It uses exactly the same theories, tools and methodologies being used internationally and the results are comparable, if not arguably better.

As we build confidence in what we can achieve domestically, overcome the FOMO and invest to provide the right environmental conditions to innovate, we will see better experiences for customers, more impact for businesses and a better bottom line for New Zealand as a whole.

You can gain further insight from the conference and access talks from SDGC14.


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