A couple of weeks ago I went into one of my favorite, yet least favorites stores: Sephora. I love Sephora because they house every makeup product on earth. No matter what I need, I can walk in and find it all in one store. On the flip side, I hate Sephora because they didn’t think through the entirety of their service offering. Let me explain. Every time I walk into Sephora to find a product I ran out of, I realize, unless it’s a major brand, I’m unable to easily find the product again. This then forces me to try and find a sales representative to help me look through the many shelves to find a new or replacement product. Of course, I get that they want me to stay in the store longer to browse shelves, but, with the huge amount of products, this becomes frustrating instead of enjoyable. Further, there are never enough of sales representatives in the store to help me find my new or replacement product … what a mess!
Enter service design. I’m still on the fence regarding the whole service design as a separate profession thing… but I can’t deny that designing for service is part of what we do and should concentrate on. This incident at Sephora not only brought to mind the premise of service design, but it also brought to mind a very interesting Adaptive Path post on the subject: Serious Service Sag. One problem with service design from an economic standpoint, as Brandon points out, is that businesses don’t spend nearly as much money investing in service design as they do in product acquisition. Nowhere was this more evident to me than in my makeup buying story. Thus, by not focusing on the entire service, Sephora is losing a ton of money, because, as we are well aware, people will spend more money and will be more loyal to a brand if they can find the right products and have a great experience while doing so.
The solution to this issue of service design sag and lack of service design in general, is, first, to advocate and promote more about service design, and, second, to just become better at it overall. As I mentioned, I’m not yet sure where I stand on the issue of whether service design is new to our field. Most of the time, I feel that it has always been a part of what we do. But, if categorizing it as service design helps to sell it to our executives and thus acquire more funds for it, I’m all for doing so. So it looks like it’s time to really get the word out, and I know many of you have been doing so, about the importance of this “new” thing called service design.
The outcome of us advocating for service design more is that we can begin to explain and show the importance of designing the entire user experience from acquisition, to use, to forming a relationship with the brand. We now have a name for the fuzzy part of user experience, the part where we form user relationships. And having that name helps us to advocate and sell service design even better. Hopefully we’ll begin to see the success of our efforts so that the next time I walk into Sephora I can more easily find a proper concealer :-).
I thought your article was well articulated about the operational side of services design. I’ve been looking for something, an article or blog that could help students understand service design better. You description of Sephora’s offering is a great example of the many touchpoints that add up to this energy consuming experience.
Thanks Andrew! It’s funny because, like you I was looking for some tangible example to clarify things and then I had this experience. So glad it was useful :-).