#Customer journey
20 May 2021

Service Design vs. User Experience

It will take you to read the article4 minutes

Martyna Tarnawska
Digital Marketing Lead

The terms Service Design and User Experience have become well established in the digital industry and are often confused. If you’ve encountered them before, you know that both aim to design experiences that prioritize the user. It is true, but they are definitely not the same thing. 

Although it is easy to get lost in the maze of definitions, understanding these two concepts and the principles that govern them will allow you to create better solutions for your clients.

What is Service Design, and what is User Experience? What are the similarities, and what are the differences? You will learn everything in this article.

What is Service Design?

Service Design is a methodology supporting the design of new services and the optimization and change of existing ones. In designing services, because this is also how you can define Service Design, it is essential to focus on the user (Human-Centered Design).

It is about putting the user at the center of the design process through a thorough understanding of their needs, problems, pains, or expectations for a specific service. Collecting such data allows for designing optimal, often innovative solutions. However, it is worth mentioning that despite the focus on the recipient of the service, designers are also interested in the needs of other people involved in its delivery.

Service Design – assumptions

Some assumptions are necessary to present a complete picture of what Service Design is. They are a kind of credo or philosophy of every Service Designer. Here they are:

  • Human-Centered Design, so the already mentioned focus on the recipient.
  • Co-creation – Service Design implies the integration of resources. The process should involve an interdisciplinary group of employees of a given organization, as well as the clients themselves and even the competition.
  • Sequencing – analyzing the customer experience not only while using the service but also before and after.
  • Accounting, which involves designing elements both visible to the user and those that are out of reach.
  • Holistic approach – Service Design aims to increase the organization’s efficiency in general, not just individual processes.

What is User Experience?

User Experience, in short UX, is the whole experience that the customer has through direct interactions with your product/service, for example, while using a given solution. That applies to both physical and digital products.

It is worth knowing that User Experience is a concept subordinate to Customer Experience (CX), which means the resultant of all customer experiences related to your brand. UX focuses on a specific part of them, like the usability of your products, system architecture, information structure, layout, and building interaction with the user.

User Experience can also be understood as a way of designing useful and intuitive products and applications or websites. Formally, it is User Experience Design, but many people use a mental shortcut in this context, simply using the term UX.

What do Service Design and User Experience have in common, and how are they different?

As we mentioned in the introduction, what Service Design and User Experience Design have in common is focusing on the user and their needs. Therefore, both methodologies strive to create services or products that meet the expectations of their users.

What’s more, they are also connected by using many of the same tools – such as Customer Journey Map, Persona, or Google Analytics.

User Experience, however, focuses mainly on the end user’s experience, so the one who already uses a given solution – e.g., a website or application.

In turn, Service Design takes into account the perspectives of all people involved in providing the service. It also includes employees of a given organization, representatives of its management board, or investors.

What’s more, User Experience Design is limited to a few specific stages on the customer’s path. In turn, Service Designers take into account all points of contact between the recipient and the brand. Their actions and feelings are essential both before using a given service and after completing the entire process, not only during the process.

Why is everything a service?

When you use an online store, many more factors affect your overall experience than just the intuitive website or the quality of the product itself. So knowing how did you find out about specific e-commerce is something that also matters, as well as the efficacy of customer service and even the product’s packaging. Not to mention the shipping date or return policy.

All these elements make up the service. So today, products are only part of a larger process. In other words, we are witnessing the end of the product age, and all companies should turn their focus toward Service Design.

Final thoughts

User Experience and Service Design interpenetrate in many ways. The conclusion we leave you with is that User Experience is, in fact, a component of Service Design. Its principles significantly contribute to creating or optimizing solutions developed using the Service Design methodology.

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