I was in a conversation with a potential client today. They are a collective of experts aiming to support other service-based businesses. They need help in launching the business.
The spokesperson asked me about my work experience. I replied, “I am a service designer. I design and simulate the experience for your customers before you develop and launch your product or service.” I could see the blank look on her face. It was not the first time for me in that awkward situation.
Service design is an abstract role in business, not defined well although its core is about understanding the customer and drawing/telling the story accordingly. The service designer role can not tell itself to its audience. It is more of a generalist position where you highly use soft skills and some easily-learnable methodologies.
What is service design?
My words above were only an introduction to the conversation. Within a 5-minute timeframe, I needed to show my professional intent with more solid expressions. But it should be effortless and figurable for her.
A good service designer asks smart questions to understand the situation. So I fired my questions to the spokesperson to show her what I may offer with example.
What do you specifically do for your customers? What are you trying to accomplish with your business? Who are your customers, and how do you increase customer satisfaction? Which business activity derives the biggest revenue source? Why do your customers choose you versus your competitor? What are the challenges that you face in your business? What is your ultimate goal? Growing and expanding your business?
Those questions may look overloaded, but believe me, they are reasonable in a sincere chat.
The point is to listen carefully with high attention to clarifying each word and mimic as an insight about the client. Everyone wants to feel special and heard. The first duty of a service designer is building rapport by making people feel important. This doesn't require talking about yourself or your previous accomplishments. We need to build a connection — a relatable and viable reason to go further.
As I listened to the answers, together, we discovered what their real problem was and clarified the big idea. I could see her eyes sparkling with new possibilities. Service design is not speculating but doing!