Part 3: Service Design & Customer Experience -- An Expert Panel

Expert panelists from both private and public sector come together to examine the intersections of service design and customer experience.

On Tuesday night, more than 60 designers gathered at Deloitte Digital in anticipation for the final leg of the 3-part series on the intersections between service design and related disciplines. It was a great night for an intimate and professional discussion on how service design and customer experience interact to bring innovation and business value to organizations.

And here you can find the wrap up on the preceeding part 1: Service Design Roots and part 2: Service Design and UX.

The conversation started with an introduction by Deloitte’s Specialist Executive in Customer Strategy and Applied Design, Jeneanne Rae. She gave an overview of and shared some highlights from her recently-published article on service design in government.Jeneanne and the team at Deloitte found that service design should be used in programs and projects that have: 


  • Limited knowledge of end user behavior and experience
  • Disconnected services due to unconsolidated processes and systems
  • Unique end-user challenges that fall outside of the common experience
  • Inadequate digital platform that are outdated and disjointed
  • Unresponsive customer service that disrupts the customer experience
  • Complex regulatory environment that leads to frustrating customer experience


The Deloitte team shared with each audience member a nifty “test” for government initiatives to determine whether SD is right for them. 

After the introduction, each panelist introduced themselves to the audience and described their biggest challenge working in the service design industry. Katherine Rodriguez, Creative Director at Marriott addressed the difficulty in transforming Marriott’s legacy business process to create tailored experiences for all levels of service. Cindy McKissock, Vice President for Customer Experience Design from Fannie Mae, explained how she started the Design team from scratch three years ago and now has 80 designers on her team. Her biggest challenge was getting buy-in from the leaders of the organization; in order to demonstrate service design’s effectiveness and value to the bottom line, she initiated pilots by integrating SD into projects at no cost -- what she referred to as the “Whole Foods samples” tactic. 


Brian Andrews, Senior CX Principal of Medallia, said his biggest challenge was working with a mid-grade telecom company. Brian explained why trying to improve the customer experience for an industry that has a terrible reputation was nearly impossible, especially when the company wasn’t a top-tier performer in its industry. 


To Michael Amante, CX Director of General Services Administration, his biggest challenge continues to be others’ ability to see the value of CX when they don’t have any prior experience with it. 

The conversation then led to how design is defined in each organization and how it is executed. The panelists answered that building enduring and holistic capabilities and processes that garner positive results are more important than defining what design is. There are always misunderstandings between what people at the corporate level think their customers want and what customers actually need; aood service designer looks at problems holistically and approach their stakeholders with humility and empathy to understand needs at every level. Creating shared experiences will help decrease the gaps between customers and organizations. 


When asked about transitioning from design to implemention, the panel shared some interesting insights. For one, designers need to consider points of view from different lenses such as customer, business, and operations. Additionally, including stakeholders from all levels throughout the design and implementation in the process will de-risk the project and promote positive team mentality. Risk management was also mentioned as an essential part of the design process because through anticipating failure, organizations can turn a detractor into a promoter for change. Another big factor in executing design is promoting change management; designers need to ensure that the trajectory of change is aiming at something transformative in order to unlock change-driven missions of organization and government entities. 


Closing the conversation for the night, the panelists discussed what it means to “delight.”Katherine shared that Marriott follows the principle of “surprise and delight” for different levels of customers with distinct needs. For example, when serving their luxury customer, the design team has to consider how to serve their guests who have access to everything at their fingertips. The insight they gathered was letting customers feel they are cared about rather than cared for is what matters most. Brian added that for a successful experience, it needs to accomplish what the customers are looking for with limited friction as well as building an emotional connection. 

Much thanks to every panelist and the team at Deloitte for making this an unforgettable night! We look forward to seeing you at our next event!

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