How Service Design Plays into Customer Journey Mapping

This article was written by Fred Zimny. Fred Zimny worked for major Dutch companies like Essent, VGZ, UVIT and CMG. In all his senior leadership positions, he deployed state-of-the-art service management thinking to realize financial and non financial benefits. At this moment he works for the Dutch Open Universiteitm achieving improvements in its front office operations. Almost everything now has a digital dimension, does it not? Service management has become far more than just cost-driven customer service: for companies like IBM and Xerox, it has become the driving concept to grow their business in a profitable way. The trends from offline to online had and has an enormous impact on the field of service management (with its roots in the late seventies/early 80’s of the last century). Those very days were, from a 2013 perspective, easy, not demanding and, let’s reflect the Zeitgeist of that era, quite boring. One live channel, often a face to face contact, sometimes emerging call-centers (yes, call-centers) and in the back-office hand-written letters, forms and punch cards. Time-consuming and limited use of technology were the characteristics for the creation of the outcomes for any consumer, then. At the end of the day: service is about functional outcomes and associated emotions. Then and now.  Outputs have, like almost anything on the globe, become permeated with technology. Digital transition transforms, and will even more transform, how consumers learn about anything, including your brand  (in the end that is  just your promise to deliver), share information about it within their networks, and re-use it. Service designers aim to deliver inter-disciplinary approaches to designing services.  A challenge with this rewards the creation of customer experiences with a magnificent consistent online and offline fusion. Service design capabilities are now simply the way business design is done.  The recent acquisition of Fjord by Accenture emphasizes that that these competences and concepts are needed, to keep pace in the business world and even more important for growth. Major technology developments, including multichannel, mobile and social media have a profound and practical impact for any industry, from front office to back-office, its leaderships functions and support processes (like a more lean and agile development). It is my sincere belief that service design improves the effectiveness, efficiency and flexibility of any interaction with leads or customers. Customer journey mapping is one of the key tools to “gain meaningful insights” about leads and customers, allowing companies to create and deliver a tailored and personalized experience. Customer journey maps create high level overviews of all items impacting the brand experience, from a customer or user experience perspective. Connecting the dots and these touch-points creates managerial and operational insights and associated benefits. The concept of using service design-driven customer-journey maps enables you to manage your leads and customers’ experience at all stages of an emerging relationship or transaction, from the first encounter and even after the final financial settlement. Service designers, operating at a tactical and operational level, are aware how crucial technology is in managing operations. From my business experience at some large Dutch companies, service design has yielded the following: profits ups, costs down, more employee engagement and growth potential, due to more satisfied customers and more converted leads.