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Dive into the world of service design with Jennifer Herzberg, a Senior Product Designer at Skylight, as she shares invaluable insights into service design principles and their application in enhancing organizational processes. In this comprehensive guide, Jennifer takes you through a journey of understanding what service design is, its significance, and how it can be used to improve customer experiences. Through a detailed case study with Cloud One, she demonstrates the practical application of service design techniques and tools, showcasing the transformative impact on customer relationship management and service delivery.


Jennifer Herzberg (0:14)

So this is Service Design 101. I am Jennifer Herzberg. I'm a Senior Product Designer at Skylight. I'm gonna be talking to you all a little bit about what service design is, some techniques and tools that you can use to improve your organization through service design. And I'm gonna share a case study of how Skylight use service design techniques with the Cloud One organization. 


All right, so what is service design? Before we jump into this question, I'm going to take you along on a colleague's commute via the subway in New York City. Throughout our trip, I'll share some photos. So we set out from an apartment on the Lower East Side and we walk towards the Delancey-Essex Train Station that's just around the corner. From about half a block out, you can see the iconic green lamppost that marks the entrance. You see the Essex Street Station sign and you see the JZFM sign, which tells you which of the trains stop at the station. You walk down the stairs and toward the turnstile where an entry sign clearly directs us towards the platform. You take out your phone or a card and you tap it on this touch indicator to pay the 2.75 fare. If you wanna know how long we'll be waiting, you can walk down the platform, which is flanked in J Train signs to the nearest arrivals board. It tells you that the next J train will arrive in about a minute and that it terminates at Broad Street, which is great because that is where we're headed so we know that we're on the right side of the platform. A train labeled J arrives and we hop on. A digital sign on the train shows the upcoming stops. We can see the Canal Street, which is where we're headed, is about two stops away. So we know about how long will be left on the train. A few minutes later, an automated announcement comes on the speakers saying, "Hey, this is Canal Street," and we arrive at the station. We exit the train and we head towards the red exit sign. We go up the stairs, exit through the turnstiles, and walk a couple of blocks and we've reached our destination. So, why did I take you along on my colleague's commute? I think that the New York City subway system is a great example of service design. So, well-executed service design when it's taking place, a user has little to no insight about the number of things that are going on behind the scenes to create the experience. The subway is an orchestra of interconnected systems and services that comes together to help 4 million New Yorkers get from point A to point B every day. What the service design is doing, it's making all these things that are going on behind the scenes invisible. So we don't really think about the train conductor who's opening the doors and making the announcements. We don't think about the people who are designing, building, and maintaining all those signs that help us find our way. And we don't think about the track workers who maintain the tracks that the trains drive on. 


One of those systems is the countdown clock. So this was a real game changer when it rolled out in 2018. Before that, you didn't really know how long you'd be waiting for a train. But when we're looking at the arrival countdown clock, we probably don't know anything about the Bluetooth beacons that were installed in the first and last car of every train. We probably don't know about the Bluetooth receivers that were installed in the stations to communicate with the beacons on the trains in order to track their locations. And we know nothing about the software that does the calculations to determine if it's two minutes away or 20 minutes away. And we know nothing of the workers like this one who had to install all those tools. 


So with that, let's revisit the question. What is service design? Service design is the orchestration of these things that operate behind the scenes. And strong service design leads to interwoven systems, technologies, and experiences that come together to create a smooth, cohesive experience for your end users. Service design is a subset of human-centered design. It's not here to replace HCD as a discipline. It's a distinct approach to HCD that may work well for your organization and your problems. I think it's particularly useful for the types of problems with service delivery that we see in government. It's a holistic approach to designing services and it enables organizations to create high quality experiences for both customers and the employees who work there. One of the things that separates service design is that focus on the employee experience with the idea that if your employees have a good experience, they're able to create better experiences for your end users. 


Next, I'm gonna walk us through how Skylight use service design tools to help Cloud One improve their customer relationship management or CRM operations in support of their hybrid migration customers. So Cloud One uses their CRM to help manage customer relationships throughout their migration process from outreach and engagement, to contract award, to go live, all the way to operations and sustainment. In this engagement, Skylight had a couple of objectives. The first was to improve the customer experience for organizations that were looking to move their apps onto Cloud One. And the second was to help the organization prepare for exponential demand in the coming years. To achieve these objectives, Skylight turned to a series of service design tools, frameworks, and workshops. So service design is a process, a set of methods and principles that are pretty similar to product design. The difference is that instead of focusing in on one piece of technology, service design takes a more holistic approach that includes both the front stage, what the user sees, and the backstage, those behind the scenes organizational structures, kinda like the beacons that we were talking about earlier. We've probably all had a project suffer because our organization couldn't communicate well with itself. In service design, ideally, you have someone who works on your product team but works more broadly by taking a holistic approach that allows them to connect with others throughout their organization to affect things like policies and processes and maybe even legal change that may be needed to make long sustaining improvements for your customers. 


How do you know when to reach for service design tools and frameworks? We recommend being on the lookout for a really big problem, especially when you have like gaps in knowledge about your customers, siloed communications, processes, and systems. Outdated, fragmented, or insufficient technology systems, or when people start using really glacier sized buzzwords. Here's one of the frameworks that Skylight likes to use to tackle these sorts of problems. I'll walk through all these phases and how in the project with Cloud One, we utilize each of those phrases and put together a service blueprint. 


So the first step, initiate. You want to achieve an understanding of the problem at hand so that you can make sure that any solutions that you come up with will truly address your customer and your organization needs at the end of the project. You'll wanna set some ground rules for your team norms, constraints, and aspirations. You'll get stakeholder buy-in and educate your stakeholders on what the service design process is and what it looks like. You'll identify areas of potential opportunities and you'll set goals for the engagement. You might host a kickoff during this, get to know your stakeholders, do some stakeholder mapping, figuring out who they are and how much they'll wanna be involved throughout the process. After the kickoff with Cloud One, the Skylight team had a few goals. First was to identify pain points and form a comprehensive understanding of where Cloud One's customers were encountering difficulties and inefficiencies in the process. The second was to work with the Cloud One team to generate holistic solutions considering any new tools that they might wanna integrate into the process. And the third was to make data-driven decisions by collecting customer experience data to help Cloud One make really informed improvements to their internal processes. In the discover phase, we'll work on expanding. We wanna add breadth and depth to our understanding of the problem space and build on things that we sort of had hunches about beforehand. We might do that through customer research, user research, stakeholder research, just getting to know the problem really, really well. We'll do some refining. We'll continue to iterate and work towards a shared point of view with our team. And we'll work on empathizing, building a deeper understanding of our users and becoming an expert on their needs and motivations. Service blueprints are a really great tool that you can use during this phase as well as across the service design process. So I'm gonna walk you through sort of how they're structured now. 


After interviewing the Cloud One team members, users, and stakeholders, the team put together a service blueprint. A service blueprint is a diagram that visualizes the different components of a service. So we've got the people who is involved in this service, who is using it, who's making it happen. We have the props, the digital or physical evidence. What are they touching? What are they interacting with as they work toward their goals? And the processes, what's going on facilitates those steps. Anything that is directly tied to touch points in a specific customer journey. So here's a structure of how we generally set up a service blueprint. But to help you understand how you might put one together for your project and how to utilize it once you make it, I'm gonna walk through the Cloud One project service blueprint, and I'll explain sort of each chunk of it and how it was used. 


At a high level, we have actions and they're supporting interactions running from left to right through time. At the top, we have the user's journey. So we start out with the customer or the persona. Who's the one who is doing this action? More than just the end user, this might include anyone from the team who moves the journey forward. Anyone in your services department, anyone who's working behind the scenes. Looking across Cloud One CRM journey, we see actions from their customers, the Cloud One factory team, the Cloud One contracting team, many others. Then we have the tasks or actions. This is what the person or people are generally typically doing in this scenario. So we have the steps, the choices, the interactions that the user does. Anything while performing that they're interacting with your service in support of their end goal. 


So for Cloud One, some of those were advertising activities that the team was taking to get the word out about Cloud One. We have orientation calls. Getting to know the customer and their particular use case. App analysis process, getting to know the needs of the app that they were moving. And eventually the decommissioning of the legacy app. So those were all tasks that were listed across the service blueprint. You might find it useful to organize your actions into phases. So those small bolded headers across the top represent seven phases that this project was divided into. 


Next we have the physical evidence. So this is what anything that someone might interact with along their journey. This might include places. Where are they? Where are they physically located while they're doing this action? Things. What digital touchpoints or physical objects would they use? What would they interact with along their journey? And time. How long does it take for someone to complete each action? By figuring out all of these and mapping them out, it helps us ground ourselves by understanding the users in their real world environment. We get a better picture of what it is, where they're doing it, when they're doing it. For this one, we might see promos, slide decks, Jira tickets, emails, forms, that kind of thing. Then we have the line of interaction, which is this gray line running across the middle here. Above it, we have the direct interactions between the customer and the organization. And behind the line of interaction, we have the front stage actions. 


So I referred to this term earlier. It refers to anything that's occurring directly in view of the user. So these could be human to human, they could be human to computer. It's anything that the user is aware of that's part of the process. If you were thinking back to the subway example, this could be a ticket agent that you interact with or seeing a conductor on your train. Here we can also include any technologies that are being used. So for Cloud One CRM process, we saw the kickstart team doing road shows. We saw team members kicking off the ATO process. And we saw the factory team conducting virtual calls with the customer. Next, we have the line of visibility. This separates service activities that are visible to the customer from those that are truly going on behind the scenes. Behind that, we have our backstage actions. 


So this is those behind the scenes actions, anything that's going on to support what's happening on stage. This might include the people behind the scenes, anyone who's playing a key role in creating and maintaining the service. The policies, whatever rules or laws or any formal events that you might need to follow to get through this experience. And the systems, whatever physical or digital infrastructure you might be utilizing in your service. For Cloud One, some of the backstage activities included account creation, CAC authorization, contract modifications, those things that just go on to keep the service running. 


So once you've built that service blueprint and once you've formed and mapped out a deep understanding of your service, it's time to strategize. Where do you start with your improvements? You got a lot of stuff that you've mapped out. Where do we dive in? In this step, you might take a look back and look at your service blueprint and say, where are we seeing pain points in this process? Where might we see opportunities for improvement? So for the Cloud One project, the Skylight team took the initial service blueprint and hosted a solutions workshop with the Cloud One team. Following that workshop, there were three new types of information that were added to the bottom of the service blueprint. So we've got pain points. Where are the difficulties in this process? What customer needs are not being met by the current process? For Cloud One CRM process, some of those pain points were the amount of time the contracting can take and how opaque it can be in between the various steps and confusion about the process and what's going on at each place. The team also added a section for inefficiencies and bottlenecks. So this is where places where something could be better about the given action. Some of the bottlenecks that were identified were there was only one person who was approving or denying the customer's app analysis plan, limited contracting resources, and the lack of standard architecture in Cloud One. Things like common services, best practices, et cetera. Last, the team brainstormed some opportunities and solutions asking what could we do to improve upon each step or each of these pain points? On this project, some of those included automating processes or tools based on key milestones. So monitoring the workflow, looking for keywords, and reaching out to customers when they're approaching a milestone. Implementing a new handoff checklist and opportunities for improved customer education. 


So once you have those ideas, it's now time to experiment. You have to figure out what to build first. During this step, your team might work on prioritization, prototyping, reshaping your ideas, getting something that you can go ahead and get started on working on. For another Cloud One project, the prioritization looks something like this. After a super productive solutions workshop, the team prioritized ideas along two axis. We've got effort from low to high and value from low to high. The things obviously that are in the high value and low effort section, those might be a great place for your team to dive in. Finally, we've arrived at implementation. You've got some great ideas. Now, how do you make them happen? In this step, you'll wanna plan for any changes. Begin to roll them out and set up metrics to measure and improve over time. For the Cloud One CRM project, Skylight shared a findings report with pain points, inefficiencies, and bottlenecks, and the prioritized solutions. So this was one of the seven steps of the journey, just listing out everything that the team might wanna try next. To summarize, here are the phases of service design as practice by Skylight. We've got first step, initiate, where we're aligning on our problem space, figuring out our team's goals, our vision, what we wanna get out of this project. We have the second step, discover. We're planning, we're researching, we're analyzing, we're synthesizing. We're gonna socialize our findings and our artifacts with our team so that everyone understands the research that's been done. Third, we have strategizing. We're gonna generate solutions, prioritize them, plan for the future, and think about what you might wanna build in the future, maybe even after this project is done. Time to think big. For the fourth step, we have experimenting. We're gonna create prototypes and we're gonna test them. And then we have implementation where you're gonna actualize your solutions and continue over time to measure, test, and refine. 


If you are interested in trying out Skylight service design framework with your team, it is available on our website at You can head over to the toolkits page, which is located under the work menu. That is all I have for you all. I would love to take any questions.