E.g., 11/18/2019
E.g., 11/18/2019

Service design is part of strategic management

By: Inge Rätsep, CEO - Interlex Translations

During the last few decades we have changed from a manufacturing society to an information- and service-based economy.

Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers. The purpose of service design is to design services according to the needs of customers and the capabilities of service providers, so that the service is user-friendly, competitive and relevant to the customers, and still sustainable for the service provider.

The focus and areas of design have expanded from craft skills to a much wider scale, encompassing virtual objects, processes, and services. Design is the art of creating solutions, products and services, which are more profitable, interesting, user friendly and sustainable. A designer does not embellish, but finds and creates solutions to problems.

How can we use service design in the translation industry?

Unlike products, which are created and “exist” before being purchased and used, translation services come into existence at the same moment they are being provided and used. While a designer can prescribe the exact configuration of a product, she/he cannot prescribe in the same way the result of the interaction between customers and translation service providers, nor can s/he prescribe the form and characteristics of any emotional value produced by the service.

Service design practice begins when turning your ideas into live.

When buying services, one is usually buying:

  1. The service provider’s potential – e.g. many public services like the ambulance, fire control, police, education, and training.
  2. A process – like an impression left by a theater performance or a sports event, childcare service with entertainment and developmental activities, relaxation at a spa and sauna.
  3. The result of consuming the service – like treatment of an illness, airplane transport to arrive at one’s destination quickly and on time.

We are designing services in order to offer the best solutions to consumers. And the keyword here is people. And the client is not the only person who is in contact with the service.

In the case of translation services the stakeholder network is much wider. In addition to the clients it includes employees of the company, cooperation partners, and competitors. When assessing the extent of the influence of the service in detail, one may be surprised by how many people are actually affected by it one way or another. It can also be revealed that the different stakeholders have a significant influence on each other. Ideally, all this should be considered in designing the service.

What kind of services and processes can be designed at a translation agency?

Customer service – hiring the right people, with the right attitude, communication guidelines, documentation (webpage, social presence, quote forms, letter forms, etc.)

Different service levels – basic, medium, high end.

Complaint resolution processes, i.e. the design of how exactly client complaints are handled.

Internal communication processes.

From here it is apparent that to sell a service successfully, not only the maintenance of client relations, focusing only on the client, is important.

How can you map the stakeholders of your service? The easiest way is to do it in three stages:

  1. Find the ones directly involved in the service process – the client, client manager, the service provider, etc.
  2. See the wider picture – who are the ones who are not directly involved in the service process, but for some reason have significant interests or indirect involvement in the service – sales manager, supplier, etc.
  3. Who are the indirect stakeholders – representatives of institutions, competitors, etc.

After the preliminary mapping has been conducted, it is wise to think through how all these people, directly or indirectly related to the service, influence each other.

How is this information applicable in real life? As taking into account all the parties to the service is obviously complicated in practice, then the first step towards a positive change is when we consider all the people in the “inner circle” of the service. This means that the service provider needs to let go of an excessively client-centered approach.

It is hard to create an excellent service experience for the client when the other people participating in the service process are bothered by one thing or another and in a negative mindset. The challenge of service design lies in creating a service which is the best possible solution for both the client and the company offering the service as well as its employees, at the same time taking into account the need to ensure the wellbeing of other stakeholders.

In the modern world design is becoming a source of success and a competitive advantage, still often not yet acknowledged as such with enough confidence. Until now the success of an organization has depended on the development of business processes and IT processes. Today, design has taken a very important position, while actually the extent to which we are influenced by design is usually not acknowledged.

A designer can be a strategic cooperation partner for the manager, taking part in the creation and realization of a design-based strategy in the organization and contributing to the development of a design-based competitive advantage, or design/designers may not be used at all. This means that the understanding and use of design in an organization can vary from non-existent to being a strategic tool and central philosophy.

Service design is also an important tool of communication, functioning side by side with the service on the strategic level of the company’s brand and organization outside from the company as well as inside the company. It is also a tool for fresh and innovative solutions and bringing creativity to the whole organization.

Other resources on service design are:

http://www.servicedesigntools.org/

http://www.servicedesigntoolkit.org/  

Note: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of GALA.

Inge Rätsep

Interlex Translations