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Design Updated: 22 Aug 2017

Service Design: a holistic approach to grow the business

Because of the growing size and importance of the service sector, both in number of employees and in terms of economic significance, services need to be designed with attention to detail to offer greater competition and continue to attract more customers.


An activity that grows with the services industry in a country requires careful design for the effective and efficient provision of services. This puts design at the service of those industries that show a special interest in how their service is delivered. The activity involves planning and organizing the people, infrastructure, communication and materials that take part in a service in order to improve its quality, as well as the interaction between the providers and the customers or users through experience.

The Italian architect and holder of a PhD in Industrial Design, Elena Pacenti, -who is considered the pioneer in service design- offered at BBVA Innovation Center Colombia, on July 2nd,  a conference on the design of services as a  holistic approach for empowering the business. In addition to explaining how service design makes it possible to create memorable experiences for customers and users by establishing new links between the different actors in the process, she showed how a brand's action capacity and interaction can be boosted.

During the first session of her presentation, architect Pacenti, who is the current director of the Domus Academy School of Design at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego (California), explained the Why of service design based on the evolution of the products and of the services themselves. The design culture anticipates the evolution of society, and service design began when digitization provided new value to the service, which is generated from the products”, said the expert.

She said that products evolved in such a way that today they create a wide range of services to meet the needs of users, and for this reason this becomes a natural and everyday phenomenon in our society. She also gave as an example the large number of applications that can be downloaded to a smarthphone or mobile device to make the life of users easier.

But she made clear that optimal service provision is not only offered through digital platforms, but also at brand points. “Services began to require design due to their very industrialization, stressed Pacenti.


Elena Panceti is considered the pioneer in service design.

User experience as the key

During the second session of her presentation she explained What service design is. It is about designing the user interaction with the brand that offers it, she said, stressing the need to think carefully at each moment of the interaction to establish at each interface what the user's behavior with the brand is. “It is resorting to the maturing of the experience through the design interfaces in the service, but the experience viewed from the holistic point of view because there are many moments of truth”, she said.

She added that designing a single interaction for the entire process is not enough, but rather that the design should generate the experience from beginning to end. The important thing is to offer users an unforgettable experience beyond all the possible moments of interaction that appear in the service process.

That is where design becomes a key player, because through it the service can generate the desired recollection through interaction and brand experience. “One should be very careful when designing the experience, because significant experiences for the user need to be designed”, she said.

How to achieve the goal

During the last session of her presentation she offered several items on Howservices should be designed. She said that there are no established rules or formulas for designing a service because this goes against creativity. However, there are methods or ways of thinking for executing the ideas. “In order to improve the experience, first we need to know the user to establish what is being designed, and also the materials involved in the design”.

She also made it clear that it is up to each organization to conduct the relevant research for determining the roadmap inspiring the design. It is also necessary to identify the experiences and understand how they are handled in order to give a consistent meaning to the design. “It is about designing how the service will work to improve the experience, so the different interactions in the process turn the brand into an unforgettable experience”, she concluded.

According to architect Elena Pacenti, it is not only a matter of designing the service, it is about going beyond to find the true experience through innovation.