Service Design Co-Creation: From Library to Learning Center

At Service Design Breakfasts (SDB) some of the best Service Design talents in Finland share their experiences and best practices. Therefore, I was very excited to see what they are all about as I took part in SDB for the first time. This time the topic was “Rapid Service Design by Co-Creating with customer SD teams”. Leena Fredriksson, Service Designer from Service Design agency Kuudes Kerros, and Valeria Gryada, Designer from Aalto University Library Services, presented the project where they worked together to transform the Aalto University library to a learning center. Kuudes Kerros also participates in Service Design Achievements of the Year 2015 with this project.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting the project at Service Design Breakfast.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting the project at Service Design Breakfast.

Background of the Project

Valeria explained that there are half a million visitors yearly in the library and the way customers interact with library services is rapidly changing. There’s a change related to digitalization and new ways of learning that have emerged from that process. That’s why the library needed to carefully rethink their organization and the way they offer the services. There was a need to transform to being a learning center and they needed help with defining what the learning center actually means as a service. Thus, Kuudes Kerros and Aalto University Library joined forces and started to create a service design concept for a learning center.

Service Design Co-Creation Process

The task was to create a new holistic service concept, but there was a major challenge due to a very tight schedule of only two weeks, altogether three campuses, eight different target sectors, and everyone’s calendars mostly full. To tackle this challenge they started to recruit Service Design teams. Kuudes Kerros invited 6-8 students to join the team and the work was done in three teams of four people, lead by a Service Design professional. More precisely the teams consisted of students, researchers, exchange students, library staff and Kuudes Kerros personnel. First they had a kick-off meeting and then used brainstorming to clarify the service concept and continued by building and testing it together with the coaches. They created three on campus -teams, and all the members of the team had individual interviews, which in the end amounted to almost 200 interviews. To succeed in this co-creation effort they created a ‘project language’ to get the teams in the same page in a short time. To find the real problems they used the terms ‘headache problems’ and ‘migraine problems’.

In the end they managed to create 23 new services ranging from small to large services. In addition to new services identified, the service design project helped Aalto University library to rethink their whole identity as an organization and they realized there’s also a need for new job descriptions. Another benefit was that Aalto received a set of skills from Kuudes Kerros and can now continue to develop the services further. At the moment the Learning center is still a vision and requires further development, but now it seems doable and is much more concrete than before.

Before the Service Design project.

Before the Service Design project.

the end result

After the Service Design project.

It was interesting to learn how much benefits both sides can get from co-creating services and how they tackled the challenges they had. I also liked the idea of creating a common project language with the ‘headache’ and ‘migraine’ problems to really dig into user needs. For me the SDBs are a great way to learn and get insights of Service Design in practice, so I’m looking forward to take part in these events as often as I can!

Before and after pictures are from the presentation, please find the presentation and more information about the project here.

Written by Heini Kauppinen, 1st Year SID Student

Service Experience Camp, Berlin 2014

Service Experience Camp 2014 (SXC14) was a two day camp organized by Berlin based service designers on September 13 and 14, 2014. More than 200 service designers, experts, students, and enthusiasts from various countries participated in the event. The theme for SXC2014 was ”Bringing Services To Life”. The focus of the camp was on the implementation of the service design principals in various industries.

The camp activities were divided into three parts:

Keynote sessions, where industry experts shared their service experience with the entire audience. There were few keynote sessions lined up every morning and evening.

Bar camp sessions were the back bone of the event. In bar camps, experts presented/co-created a service experience session with a small group of audience. Any one could nominate to host a bar camp or participate in one.

Networking sessions were the third part. During lunch and coffee breaks and in the evening after the closing of the bar camp session, participants mingled together and exchanged thoughts.

SXC14 had an Android and iPhone app with information about the sessions, map of the facility, lunch timings, and other information. The app was built by Futurice in just two weeks using the agile software development principals.


Screenshot of the SXC14 application.

Keynote sessions

Many experts from various industries were at SXC14 to share their experiences on Service Design implementation.  Below are the some topics I found interesting.

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Ethnography and User Ethnography

As someone who has done various types of ethnographic and interview research before, I was asked to provide some reading tips on that topic, for user research. If one looks at modern guidebooks, they tend to be quite good on the practical “how”, but neglect to say where many of the ideas come from. That makes it sometimes very hard to expand on their ideas, should one want to. Ethnography has a long history, first as the study of especially indigenous cultures, but later also things such as formal organizations.

Ethnography FTW

A small sample of guidebooks and published results.

Likewise, interviewing techniques and formats – in both ethnographic and other contexts – are much more diverse than a simple book can show. Therefore, especially as one seeks to write about the results (in, e.g., a master’s thesis), it’s always nice to have some extra sources with which to start. In the video here is my crash course on the topic’s diversity, and below is a basic bibliography, in condensed format. University libraries tend to have copies of them, at least, and those can be located through databases such as Linda.

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Gaps with cultural twist

The gaps model

The gaps model of service quality was developed by Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry in 1990. It is a useful framework for understanding service quality in an organization. The gap model consists of 5 gaps (one customer gap and four provider gaps). The most critical service quality gap is the customer gap – the difference between customer expectations and perceptions. Closing the gap between what customers expect and what they perceive is critical to delivering quality service.

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A Library Paradigm Shift

Someone says “library service design”, so obviously, I am interested. And what a fascinating project it was, as part of the Service Design Achievements: the turning of a university library into a learning center – for real, not just in name. The recently formed, but with old roots, Aalto University Library, is really re-inventing itself. Given that libraries have been one of the areas where a move towards service-dominant logic has increasingly meant “let’s remove all sunk costs (e.g., books) as just sunk costs”, and a strong availability heuristic bias (“my kids don’t use the library, so it’s worthless”), this is an extremely positive move. As a library manager and a service designer, I applaud the project.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting.

Now, what have they done so far, if the project is not yet finished? Plenty. It appears that both by themselves, and with Kuudes Kerros, they have not only charted current services (finding out that digital ones are eight times as used as the physical ones), they have gone for a holistic design. Taking as principle the fact that the traditional library almost solely caters for the traditional learning system – cramming – they went looking for other opportunities. Continue reading

To me sound of SID is like a sound of music

How I found my inner spark of Services Innovation and Design Thinking? I was one of the lucky ones who got in to Services Innovation and Design (SID) Programme at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. We newcomers met for the first time during our 3-day kick-off session in September 2014. I had high expectations for the class but I also kept my mind open because I didn’t know if my expectations were fair.

I think Design Thinking was a good subject to start with. We had workshops during the study days and we got to know each others. I learnt a lot from my group but also of myself. For example I noticed that the passed working years in the traditional business life had moulded the standards and rules around me. And now it was time to let them go and start to think about services and business in a new and innovative way.. in a SID way.

We had inspiring lecturers leading our workshop; Gijs van Wulfen, the founder of FORTH Innovation method, and Katja Tschimmel, a researcher, coach and a famous Design Thinker.

Gijs   Katja

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Need for Service Design up in the Air?

Airline-Customer-Service-AgentHave you ever read the story about the funniest customer feedback in the world? It is the one directed to Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. It was sent by a passenger who flew from Mumbai to Heathrow with Virgin Airlines and who wasn’t too happy about the food catering or the inflight entertainment during the flight. Apparently Finnair doesn’t want this to happen to them, so they hired a creative technology company called Reaktor to improve their in-flight entertainment service. Reaktor describes itself as a constructer of well-functioning services. The reason they believe they were chosen was that they could deliver both the design and development from the same house.

Starting Point

It had previously taken a huge amount of time to navigate through the entertainment system. For the new system the aim was to have less levels to navigate, show the content on the first page and of course for it to be faster. The main goal was to improve passenger satisfaction. It was interesting to hear about the development process, which was reputedly a new way of working for Finnair and Panasonic, the manufacturer of the hardware. The displays in the planes have a computer inside and it was impossible to take them out of the aircrafts as they were flying daily. It required people from Reaktor to travel to Panasonic office in California where they had the equipment needed for the development process.

The Designing Process

Reaktor 2The team consisted of five smaller groups: Development, Coaching, Concept, UX (user experience)/UI (user interface) and Visuals. According to Reaktor the team worked seamlessly together during the process. The kick-off for the project was in June 2013 and the installation started in August 2014. They had possibility for only two plane visits, which was surprising to hear. So they decided to build a test lab where they then performed user research and tests. The process wasn’t linear, but instead went from designing, developing and testing back to beginning several times.

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