This may take a taller than usual elevator.
Service design is taking a whole journey of your user or customer, beyond just the using of specific parts of a journey, and treating that whole journey as the “product” or service.
It’s different than a typical user journey in that while it does move across the story or use case linearly, it’s focused on the underlying touchpoints, actors, systems, and policies that support or dictate each step.
This gives us not just an end to end view of what is experienced, but the hugely important surface-to-core view of the steps along the journey. While the customer perceives that they are interacting with the top layer, they aren’t aware of the massive amounts of goings-on that happen beneath the surface.
And to people like us, it is that surface-to-core set of layers that are most important, since those are what actually cause bad experiences, and what prevent new ones from being designed.
So instead of just focusing on the usability or experience of individual touchpoints, we focus on the entire journey and underlying things that make the journey possible. That’s our product – the totality of an experience and everything seen and unseen that is is comprised of.
It’s the difference between fixing the “UX” of a product, to fixing the entire experience of the ecosystem the product and services (probably multiple products and services) and the behind the scenes people, systems, and policies that support it.
Because we’re not providing just a string of touhcpoints and individual experiences in the form of product UX – we’re providing the totality of what happens, and what it takes to make it happen.
And by doing so, THAT is what gives us the ability to really apply service design as it is meant to be applied: for root cause analysis and remediation of entire experiences.
But that will take another (much taller) elevator ride to explain. Check it out in part 2 of this 2 part article: My Service Blueprint Elevator Pitch, Part 2: Blueprinting.