Daniele Catalanotto
Author - Daniele Catalanotto

Pain points are part of every service and trying to kill them all won't help. Behavioral economics and Service Design helps to choose which pain points to keep and which one to tackle.

Service Designers try to make services as smooth as possible for users. There is this idea of the perfect user journey, where people do not come across any pain point and where everything is just fine. Today at the Service Design Conference in Amsterdam there was a great talk by Robert Neal who destroys this sweet dream. Neal explains that in several studies (Airbnb and his own) he has found out that people who had an issue with a service that was later resolved gave a better rating to it than people who hadn’t any issues. We can say, that people have a higher approbation for service when they aren’t boring smooth. 

In a way this is like poetry or painting. There is a saying that goes like that: 

«It’s the zone of shadows that enhance the zone of lights».

If everything is fine and perfect things are practical. But in a way they are also a bit boring.

In the field of behavioral economics the Peak–end Rule gives a complementary and well researched point of view about this problem. This rule says that it’s the last experience that sticks in the memory of people and not the average of the sum of all experiences. 

What this means for us as Service Designers is that it’s ok to leave a few pain points if they are in the strategic sweet spot. What I call the strategic sweet spot for pain points to keep is the following. It’s when a pain point isn’t dramatic for the user, but needs a lot of investment by the service provider to be solved.
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If a problem is in this category, then maybe we can choose strategically to not solve it and make it part of the music or poetry of our service.
About this article

This article is part of a series celebrating the Service Design Conference. The conference takes place in Amsterdam on the 27th and 28th October. Want to continue the conversation? Leave me a message on Twitter so that we can meet at the conference here in Amsterdam. 

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