The Service Design Show

by Andy Polaine on August 26, 2016

in General, Links

I had the pleasure of chatting with 31Volts’ Marc Fonteijn on the Service Design Show the other day. We talked about the possible boundaries of service design and it’s fractal nature and I completely had a brain freeze in the middle of talking about feasible, viable and desirable. Here’s the resulting interview:

Having finally relocated to a permanent address in Sydney and re-docking with government and utilities, I’ve been experiencing the whole gamut of customer services. There are a whole host of things to register for and the way companies go about it is different every time.

The good news is that most of this is much better. I first got to Australia in 1999 and left in 2006 and I have many memories of having to go to government offices in person or being on hold to utility companies for ages. But there is still a lot of work to do.

Several companies have adopted the post-registration follow-up strategy. I can just see it as a sticky note touchpoint moment on some service or CX designer’s customer journey. The problem is many companies still have a view of the power relationship firmly placed in their camp – it’s still inside out. Here is what happened when my energy company, AGL, called me month into my contract with them. At least I assume it really was AGL:

Random caller on my mobile: “Hi, this is X from AGL, am I speaking to Mr Andrew Polaine?”

Me: “Er, yes.”

AGL: “Great. So I just wanted to welcome you to AGL and check that everything was set up on your account the way you want it.”

At this point I’m thinking, it’s a bit late, but one billing cycle in, so I understand why. And it’s a nice touchpoint so far. Then we hit an impasse:

AGL: “Before I go any further, I need to confirm some security details. Can you tell me your street number and name or give me your date of birth?”

Me: “Sure. But you just called me so I need to make sure you are actually from AGL. Can you tell me the last three digits of my account number?”

AGL: “I’m afraid I can’t do that until you confirm your account details.”

Me: “But I don’t know who you are. Do you not have any way to prove you are from AGL?”

AGL: “I’m sorry, I can’t give you any details until I confirm you for security purposes. But I understand if you are uncomfortable with this, so you can just give us a call anytime.”

The call centre contact was perfectly pleasant, but put in an impossible situation by policy and hamstrung by her script. It also turned something meant to be a pleasant, proactive touchpoint into work for me to do having to call them back. It also goes against the mental model of these kinds of interactions that other services, such as banks, have built in our heads – don’t give out your details to random callers.

This approach evidenced inside-out thinking, not customer centricity. The policy is probably “on all calls customers must identify themselves,” but the real world equivalent of my call was someone ringing my doorbell and asking me to prove I lived there when I answered the door.

Thinking through and acting out those kinds of interactions as if they were in-person and personal relationships is a simple way to get them right. In this case, AGL could have come up with a way to do a reverse ID check and even communicated this when I first signed up so I knew what to expect. It’s not a huge transgression, but multiple moments like that add up to a choppy experience. Thankfully AGL have been pretty good so far.

Hello UX Australia 2016

August 22, 2016

Just a quick note to say I’m heading to Melbourne for UX Australia 2016 where I’ll be running my Design a Service in Six Hours workshop and also doing a presentation called Design to the Power of Ten looking at the fractal nature of service design. The he workshop is sold out (thanks everyone who […]

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The Circular Economy Officer

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There’s an interesting short piece over at Sustainable Brands asking whether we need a new kind of CEO – a Circular Economy  Officer. They interviewed my brother who makes a good case for industrial designers: Matt Polaine, former circular economy research lead at BT, says a key remit of any circular economy role should be to understand […]

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You drive me crazy — considering the brand and human experiences of autonomous cars

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Photo: Steve Jurvetson When Google’s self-driving Lexus cut off Delphi Automotive’s self-driving Audi, forcing it to take “appropriate action” by aborting a lane change, the near miss between them was reported in terms of the technology and liability. With the exception of Reid Hoffman’s thoughtful piece, Driving in the Networked Age, the brand and service […]

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Switching hemispheres

April 16, 2015

I have some big news to announce. After six years teaching and researching service design at the Hochschule Luzern I will be leaving my post there at the end of August. It has been an informative and formative time for me. Thanks to all my former students on whom I have inflicted my prototypes of […]

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The Apple Watch, skeuomorphism and metaphors

March 25, 2015

I had a Twitter exchange with John Gruber yesterday in response to his point about the Apple Watch and skeuomorphism: I don’t think iOS or OS X needed to eschew skeuomorphic textures, but Apple Watch did. Gruber was referring to Craig Hockenberry’s piece about the Apple Watch’s OLED display. In particular Hockenberry’s argument that the […]

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Antirom 20th Anniversary Event

February 18, 2015

REWIND to 1995 – A collective of young Londoners launches Antirom, a CD-ROM of experimental interactive software, at Cameraworks gallery in Bethnal Green. The many brief, playful, funny ‘toys’ on the disc have quite an influence in interaction design circles. FFWD to 2015 – Generations of computer hardware rush past leaving Antirom unplayable on any […]

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From hunch to research direction to design concept

January 29, 2015

The most common issue service design students face is project paralysis in the face of infinite possibilities and the synthesis of a mass of research material. Services are often complex and the interconnectedness of problems can soon appear too difficult to tackle. Taking the leap to tentatively develop an idea, and letting go of the […]

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