eStar digital strategist, Greg Randall discusses service design and how employees, tools, and processes contribute to creating amazing online experiences
Service design is the function of dedicating resource, business processes and business tools to enable amazing online experiences.
Those organisations who are globally known for having successful online channels are those who live and breathe service design.
The act of constructing service design, separates organisations into two types:
1) Those who say they are customer centric
2) Those who are customer centric
Those retailers who are customer centric have a high standard of service design functioning throughout the business.
Creating great front-end visual touch points in the form of websites and social content is not enough to deliver amazing online experiences and support the business-wide strategy.
Euromonitor’s economic/consumer trend experts have identified today’s consumer demands when engaging online with brands:
1) Personalised one to one experiences.
3) Meaningful conversations (those that contribute to a consumer’s decision making).
4) To be in full control of their own journey.
Service design supports and enables all four and is broken down into two parts…
Type one – Pre-purchase. Activities to enhance experiences when the consumer is “in the moment to engage” and wanting to information gather and/or buy.
Type two – Post-purchase. Activities required once a purchase has been completed.
“Activities” relate to the three components needed to make up a service design plan:
1) People. The employees and vendors/service providers.
2) Props. The diverse list of physical and digital tools like the ecommerce technology.
3) Processes. All the workflows needed to control the people and props.
These activities are a mix of “front of house” and “behind the scenes”, meaning, the consumer will come in direct contact with some but not all.
The theatre analogy:
Think of service design like the front and back stages of a theatre performance. The consumer sees and experiences the front…
- The quality of the venue.
- The theatre employees.
- The actors and their performance.
- Set design and props.
- The music used.
Indirectly, the consumer is also impacted by the backstage activities.
- The script creation.
- The leadership from the director.
- The support staff backstage.
Any issues/faults that lie within the backstage will translate to a degraded performance and experience for those watching. The director deems a perfect performance if both front and back stage work harmoniously together.
In business, the executive team (the “director”) works with teams to deliver a “perfect performance” at scale, for millions of “audiences of one”.
Service design examples
Retailers easily become stuck in segregating physical and digital retail, and structure the organisation accordingly. The consumer sees a single experience and doesn’t compartmentalise their journey to fulfil a need.
Implementing service design needs to break down this compartmentalisation and is heavily reliant on the support of executive teams to change the mindset.
Example one – Online chat (pre-purchase front of house)
A recent study found the top three reasons for consumers engaging with online chat to be:
1) “I got my questions answered immediately.”
2) “Because I can multi-task.”
3) “It’s the most efficient communication method.”
Online chat (if implemented right) delivers personalised, one to one interactions that are contextually meaningful.
Many online consumers want help from a live person while they are shopping online; 44 percent of online consumers say having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
Online chat offers a real person to answer specific consumer questions that could not be answered online. It is the equivalent to a consumer approaching an employee in physical retail.
This is why consumers who use online chat convert more than 10 times higher than those who don’t use online chat.
Example two – Consumer order fulfilment (post purchase behind the scenes)
The “experience” does not end until the product is in the consumer’s hands.
If the post-purchase experience is poor, the entire experience is poor. Which is why Amazon has invested heavily in this function for decades.
The importance and impact of order fulfillment comes from the anxiety commonly felt by the consumer once the transaction is completed. The consumer hands over money first and receives nothing tangible in return.
In 2017 research found one of the fundamental reasons consumers prefer to buy in-store is so they can take items home immediately.
While everyone talks about the last mile and the pain it causes, this has been an issue for 50 plus years.
The bigger business pain point in improving fulfillment is not the last mile, but legacy business systems.
Organisations are stuck on outdated legacy systems designed for the business first, not the consumer. These old systems struggle to accurately transfer information from one system to another in a timely fashion.
Research on large organisations found, 44 percent have legacy systems affecting every or most projects, compared with 28 percent for medium sized firms.
These legacy business systems are crucial “props” and are not replaced due to the lack of appreciation of its negative impacts on end-to-end consumer experiences.
This ignorance becomes a business growth limiter.
Now be honest with yourself, do you think your business is truly customer centric?
eStar is Australasia’s leading specialist eCommerce solutions provider, delivering outstanding experiences with some of the region’s best brands, through a combination of thought leadership, user experience, development, design and partners.
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