Service Design Breakfast #5: There is no such a thing as service design by Anton Schubert

Fifth talk, 28.11.2012


With a twenty-five year career experience in design, ex IDEO employee, the Head of product & service design at 358 Anton Schubert says: “there’s no such thing as service design”.

Anton recalls having experience of different steps of the Design process throughout his life. After multiple jobs before becoming an IDEO project leader Anton now reflects on his current job at 358 to explain why “Companies simply don’t understand their customers”. His remembrance as a young Look Fitter (Locksmith) make him now realize his first encounters with the user-centered approach when eating cake and drinking tea with his customers (mostly grannies) after finishing the job, while current organizations offer services and have no clue of who their customers are.

Figure 1: Anton Schubert, 358

The Head of product & service at 358 says there isn’t a good dialogue between companies and people, “companies now silo themselves into little groups of
people” and what’s even worst “designers do it also” breaking the link of communication creating inconsistent experiences for the customers.

Anton points out the big change in his job roll from designing different kinds of products such as GPS devices or packaging to now sitting with clients to have a dialogue because untimely he says; “our job as designers is to help people and companies to like each other”.

Figure 2:
Company vs. People interaction, 358

Anton’s framework definition of the customer journey helps to clarify better the process of a designer’s as well as organizations point of view in parallel of what otherwise would be an straggle of distinctions of different departments in the organization. However, he argues that in order to avoid these inconsistent experiences for the customers, designers should become T-shape designers working with other disciplines on the wither customer journey.

Figure 3: Designer, 358

He also makes the distinction between a Service designer and a T-shape designer as one having a little more knowledge than the other in a multidisciplinary field like the design field now days is. And that’s what ultimately will help customers and companies break the barriers of communication and keep designers from “silosing themselves”.

SID students comments:

At the beginning I thought that actually this was one of the best breakfast I’ve been. Then I a bit changed my mind but still thinking it wasn’t bad. Subject of the presentation suggested that there is a lot of polemics going on there. And I was right. From first slides we were bombed with different points of view about obvious things. Anton was claiming that companies simply do not understand their customers. That was first thing which stands in contradiction with what I expressed. For me, companies understands customers well but pretty often they are using their dominant position to force their own rights. It’s all about finding customer’s values as Harvard Business Review pointing out well. In second part of his talk, he mapped customer journey with 3 phases: find, like and love. I really like the comparison to real live. He pointed out that it’s really hard to fall in love with product comparing to real person due to fact that many times companies are “schizophrenic”, in silos, where i.e. R&D guys not talking to marketing people at all. He has many rights here saying that the best design agencies using “t-shaped” designers who are co-creating trying to understand the full picture, not just a part. I believe that only thanks to this approach companies’ designs are understandable and interesting and customers falling in love with them. Daniel Augustyn

I agree  with Anton that is an advanced and unusual thought to involve different company’s departments and also look for information and participation of them in the whole design process, in order to have different expertises and creating consistency in how the user will receive the information. The good designer knows who and what expertises needs to be punched for a better production. The full picture of a service design also can’t miss the different stages of the user experience, how is the process of the user engagement and when and how the different departments are also involved to create a better user experience. The user has different expectations when she is already using a product, the interest and the needs change often when the time usage is passing. How to approach, how to reach or how to engage them more, needs to be thought. I read a book that explains the different phases of digital user experience and I suggest it for who wants to know more about the topic: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter. Jane Vita

I think Anton refers rather to a societal or cultural problem. For one thing, T-shaping comes from personal motivation and many times with the support of a company. The companies decide if they chose to, to believe and invest in the employee’s rotation through different departments to encourage learning. One can hardly become T-shape without experience in at least one field.
Even if you were to go to T-shaping school, school will not teach you experience. The question is, would you hire an employee with no specifically one area of expertise  rather many blurry ones? It’s hard enough getting a job as a fresh graduate with no specific area of expertise. Although it would be even better for companies because they could mold a fresh graduate to be T-shape as supposed to the other way around being a T-shape (with not one specific area of expertise) and to try to be hired by a company. Hugo Molina

Interview with Anton Schubert

I agree with Anton that “our job as designers is to help people and companies like each other”. Nowadays companies don’t always understand their customers, and according to Anton it is not going to change in the near future. Setting up a dialog between a company and its’ clients is one of the main tasks of a designer. Co-creating with clients and their customers, getting people together and making sure they have an open dialogue – these are the tasks of designers. It’s not just about creating a service or an object, but making sure this dialogue happens.

Figure 4: Connecting companies and people, 358

I also enjoyed Anton introducing three steps in one’s relationships with the brands (using the human metaphor again) – find, like, and finally love. You first find a brand, company or service, start getting to know it and liking it, and only after that you fall in love with it. Of course that’s the best position for any company to achieve – having your customers love you, but for that you have to make sure you understand your consumer’s journey. Ekaterina Zhiteneva


Figure 1: Anton Schubert, 358

Figure 2: Company vs. People interaction, 358

Figure 3: Designer, 358

Figure 4: Connecting companies and people, 358

Link to presentation and Video

Link to previous Service Design Breakfast:

One thought on “Service Design Breakfast #5: There is no such a thing as service design by Anton Schubert

  1. Pingback: Service Design Breakfast #6: Service Acceptance Boosted by E-learning by Jouni Tuominiemi, HiQ | Service Innovation & Design

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