Published ten years ago this month, The Journey to the Interface argues the case for service design and its intrinsic value to the public sector in creating more intimate and responsive relationships with users and customers.
A lot has changed in the last decade with service design now emerging as an essential methodology, a set of tools for helping organisations deal with internal challenges, improving service strategies and ultimately placing the user at the center of the design process.
Organisations including the UK National Health Service, Transport for London (TfL) and the UK’s Government Digital Service are today using service design practices to meet the expectations of service users, derive policy by starting with design and design better digital services that get more from technology; an often daunting task in large, interconnected public organisations.
For TfL the closure of London Underground ticket offices presented a significant challenge. Senior stakeholders recognised an opportunity to deploy mobile technology using ‘design thinking’ to inform the strategy. No longer behind desks but instead equipped with mobile devices, staff are free to roam and assist passengers. A design-led approach and the tools of service design are directly informing TfL’s large-scale modernisation plan for the entire network, one that will address rising customer service expectations and the opportunities of new technologies.
Some parts of local and central government have for some years now been using service design to transform the relationship between citizen and government.
Service design practices allow the government to identify how to do more with less or do less with greater effect. However, design-led approaches are still relatively new to the public sector at large, with many services burdened by outdated legacy systems and other barriers to change. Many services will need to be rebuilt from the ground up, something which given the scale of government will take some time. Taking a design-led approach and using the tools from the service design toolkit has proved its worth.
"I don’t think we realised when we were writing The Journey to the Interface just how big and significant the service design wave would get for the UK public sector. In 2006 we had to explain what service design was, and its potential. We included a glossary in the book because phrases like ‘customer journey’ were so alien to the public services we were speaking to."
Sophia Parker, Director at The Point People and formally Deputy Director of Demos.
"Ten years on, and core design principles - such as starting with user insight, and interrogating the touch points between people’s lives and the services they use – have resulted in better services. The challenge is to keep pushing for service design to be used transformationally, rather than instrumentally - a challenge that’s bigger than ever in the context of the cuts being applied to the sector at the moment."
Joe Heapy, Founder and Director of Engine Service Design.
Read the full publication here.