• Talise Tsai
  • Published: 05 April 2022


Moving from one great digital product to user-centric, company-wide digital transformation

Imagine downloading an incredible banking app that meets all your banking needs. There is a new investment offering, but opening that account proves tedious — customers on the phone get passed from team to team and must fill out paperwork in person. What's worse, a back-office error means the customer must redo everything for the investing account and manually update their banking account. The investment account is never opened, and the bank account is abruptly closed.

The capabilities needed to manage company-wide digital transformation are different from those needed to create great digital products. While a great digital product can delight users, it can set up expectations for the rest of the service that are difficult to deliver. Product mindsets don’t consider what users need as they move between different products and channels, nor what happens in the backend, nor employee perspectives. This can cause negative experiences — in this case, due to lack of data sharing between product and sales teams, the call center, and branch staff. 

The banking app was born out of great user experience or product design — but when it comes to retaining customers, cross selling effectively, and improving backend processes, service design is the discipline most organizations need to address remaining gaps.

How Service Design Complements UX Design

While UX design focuses on the user experience of products and what users encounter, service design expands this work by looking at the user experience at an organizational level, both in-between the scenes for digital-physical continuity and behind the scenes at the employees, processes, and technologies needed to create the experience. Service designers analyze the tangible (products, tools, environments, technology) and intangible (culture, rules, processes) to understand how the organization works so they can create holistic experiences. This improves customer satisfaction and identifies opportunities for operational efficiency and growth. 

4 Benefits of Service Design

Let’s look at four benefits of service design. 

1. Create Holistic User Experiences

Many financial service organizations offer multiple services delivered via both digital and physical touchpoints. For example, taking out a mortgage loan could involve talking to a financial advisor, submitting physical forms, calling to check the status, and paying off loans online. In this omnichannel environment, service design helps organizations create seamless journeys, so the user experiences aren’t disconnected. It prioritizes initiatives and determines what level of excellence is necessary to optimize user value and where compromises can be made with little negative effect. If this is done with a product-centric mindset instead of a service design perspective, organizations will end up with large backlogs of digital transformation initiatives that are duplicative and product teams that disagree on priorities. Service design helps organizations prioritize initiatives in a user-centric way, therefore maximizing the payback in digital transformation.

2. Overcome Organizational Silos

Companies have historically been organized by products or departments leading to people, processes, data, and technology systems that don’t communicate with each other. This is problematic for users, who don’t want to talk to customer service agents, get put on hold, then moved around different sales teams just to understand their current insurance policies. Service design visualizes these information flows and processes, gathers cross-company perspectives, and builds alignment through facilitation on how the organization should work and how that impacts their users. Overcoming organizational silos can turn a frustrating event into cross-selling opportunities. Here, data aggregation and integrated service teams could have enabled one agent to look at a customer’s different policies, see outages in their coverage, and recommend new policies.

3. Improve Employee Experiences

Employees are instrumental to service delivery and their experience directly affects users. A confused financial advisor who gives bad advice can negatively affect the brand. Customer service agents who can’t pull up client profiles won’t get their job done. However, employees are often not designed for or included in decision making, which can cause frustration and prevent effective digital transformation. Service design helps companies understand their employees, actively engage them in the reinvention process, and empower them to carry out change. By designing employee experiences, tools and processes and identifying how they affect customers, service design can improve service quality, efficiencies, workplace culture and even retention.

4. Reduce Risk of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation needs to be achieved while minimizing the risk and cost of innovation. Since legacy systems are expensive and time-consuming to redesign, the costs of being wrong are high. Service design mitigates wasted effort or failed company-wide digital transformation by prioritizing user value, testing low-cost prototypes with stakeholders, and iterating based on feedback before significant investments are made. This enables the team to quickly catch and discard ideas that don’t work while building rapport with key stakeholders. 

The right approach to service design will put together a plan that encompasses all four elements described above to achieve company-wide digital transformation.