The 3 principles of DESIGN THINKING

Service-design thinking is a dynamic process that includes not only the service providers and their customers but also all the service’s stakeholders. It’s about paying attention to every little detail as well as seeing the big picture of the overall customer experience. In short, there’s a whole lot more to service design than just a transaction with a customer.


Imagine you’re a car manufacturer. Each time a customer settles into the driver’s seat, she will see your brand logo on the steering wheel, reminding her of the company whose product she’s using – your company. And if you sell phones, shirts or books, the story is much the same: your product is a subtle reminder of your company.

But what if you sell haircuts, bus rides or some other, less physical product – in other words,

  • what if you offer services?
  • How do you go about designing those?
  • What should you keep in mind?
  • What keeps customers coming back for more?


Let’s explore the basic principles of successful service design with the right methods and tools. In the end we want these customers come back for more.

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Service design should revolve around customers, while keeping in mind their potential differences.


What is service design? Well, there’s no single definition; it’s an evolving and interdisciplinary approach that combines multiple methods and tools to design new services. However, there are five common principles that most everyone agrees on.

The first is that the process of service design should be user-centered. Or, to put it another way, when designing a service, the customer should be treated as a crucial piece of the process.

Unlike a physical product, a service is a process – an interaction between the service provider and the service user, the customer. So any successful service will recognize the customer as a central part of the process.


For instance, let’s look at a public transportation service, such as a bus. This is a valuable public service that benefits countless customers; the service would be of little value, however, if the bus didn’t stop at and travel to locations convenient to these customers.


Okay, so what if you’re trying to design a successful service of your own. There’s one pitfall, in particular, to be wary of: an overreliance on quantitative data, such as statistics. Statistics are undoubtedly a great source of information, especially for discovering popular trends, such as when during the day people are most in need of a bus, but this isn’t enough to provide a valuable service.


Let’s say there are two people with very similar traits. They’re both married and financially successful men, they’re both around 70 years old, and they were both born in the United Kingdom. But based on these statistics alone, you wouldn’t know which one is Prince Charles and which one is Ozzy Osbourne, and it goes without saying that these men are quite different from one another.



This should remind you that no two customers are exactly alike. Each one has a culture, a set of habits, a range of motivations. If you want to fully understand your customer base, you can’t underestimate these differences; this qualitative information must be considered in combination with statistics in your efforts for a successful service design.



When creating and designing a new service, it’s important to involve not only customers in the process but other stakeholders as well. This brings us to the second principle of service design: it should be a co-creative process.

A stakeholder is anyone who’s involved with the service – including managers, marketers and engineers, as well as possible private organizations and governmental agencies. Of course, customers can also be counted as stakeholders.

All these people should have a direct or indirect say in the creative process of service design since they all play an important role in the successful development, operation and usage of the service. The purpose of such an environment is to ensure that all your stakeholders’ needs are accounted for, which shouldn’t be seen as a burden since each stakeholder has the potential to contribute valuable expertise and ideas.


The third principle of service design is sequencing, that is, the sequence – or timeline – of providing a service.

You can think of sequencing like a movie. Every movie is made up of a series of still frames that, when put together and played in sequence, tell the story of the movie.

As all movies are composed of a sequence of still frames, all services are composed of a sequence of touchpoints or interactions; when put together, they form the complete service.

Sequencing is helpful because it allows you to break down each step of the user experience – all the interactions, all the touchpoints – to get a detailed overview.

Details that might otherwise be overlooked often get caught in the sequencing process.

For instance, if you were opening a new barbershop, a service-design sequence will make it clear that the floor needs sweeping between each customer, and that you should provide things, such as magazines or TVs to keep customers comfortable if they arrive early.


Use things such as souvenirs to extend the service, and think holistically to find new ways of improving.


Want to learn more about Design Thinking? Just read this other Blog




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