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Thanks to Adrian at AHO for this great pinterest link to lots of journey mapping examples (link).


A great collection of journey maps on pinterest



I found this on the BBC recently and thought it worth a mention. Chiltern Railways in the UK has hired two comedy writers to help assist them with announcements on the train (link). Instead of a surly or purely informative announcement, they are injecting some humour into the messages. As an example, they have added some information in a humorous way:

We will shortly be passing through West Ruislip where we will be racing the Underground trains. Do please feel free to cheer for our driver.

Its especially interesting because humour can be very awkward to implement accross the organisation. I think its a bold move to do this for several reasons. Firstly, because not everyone has the inclination to be funny, and not in a scripted way. Secondly, passengers expect both consistency and variation. Consistency in delivery, meaning that they will expect funny comments next time they travel. Variation, because you can’t tell the same joke twice.

I think also that its interesting because generally the tone of voice and behaviour of front-line staff should reflect the DNA of the company. Adding humour says something about the ambition of the company, but also that this is to be embedded in their brand promise to you. Will you receive the same positive experience when buying a ticket, buying a coffee, using the web-site? The number of touch-points that should be changed is pretty large, and I hope that they start thinking through a redesign of them all. During the cold Autumn months, a bit of humour is just the thing to warm the heart.

Thanks to Mosse at AHO for sharing this nice Service Design for the Washington airport anno.
The expanding airport

Untitled from CHRISTINA LAETZ on Vimeo.



It explains why and how airports have become huge sprawling walkways and suggests an innovative way to solve it using mobile lounges.


Air travel would have been very different if this had happened.


I’m not really sure if this would work out (he he), but I really like the way that GymPact turns things on its head and finds a way to motivate you to be active at the gym. It adds a new twist to the social, co-production, collaborative service direction.

Some years ago we did some service design for the health service as part of one our our master-level courses. We heard there that in some parts of China, you pay the doctor when you are well, and they are free when you are ill. Gympact reminds me of the same idea, one that is enticing.

I just came over this graph from the splatf blog (link) showing how consumer electronics stands for a huge amount of sales at Sony, but generally, little or no profit. In fact is regularly goes into the red. However, services, although not generating as much income as consumer, are more regularly in the black.

Sony and services? Well it turns out that Sony offers insurance and banking. Although I don’t know how this came about, I am curious to know if the Sony brand has managed to assist positioning Sony financial services. I would also like to know what the Sony experience would be like for a bank. Sony have traditionally been known for innovation, style and quality – I wonder how that converts into service behaviour …

As it is the season to give, and most notably the season to give things, I was surprised to see the number and range of experiences as gifts available on the market this year. I have seen them before as up-and-coming gifts, but this year there seem to be more of them, and greater interest. In one of the shops I visited (a bookshop), I overheard two conversations where family members were discussing which experiences to give as gifts this Christmas.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise. There has long been a trend of packaging services, and it could be described as a natural consequence of the experience economy. However, the strength of the growth is surprising, and the range of packages available is impressive.

One of the largest organizations is the smartbox organisation (link) which has branches all over the world. I think it is interesting that they use the term box as a key part of their experience, making the experience tangible.

One of the Danish providers is Bellevue Box (link). They are a young company with fast growth, and have been classed as a Gazelle fast track company in Denmark.

This package markets itself with a richer experience as a focus, using the Danish term for experience (oplevelse) and a less utilitarian packaging design. In terms of expectation management, the Danish solution provides an expectation of a  richer experience.

I think these experience gifts are an interesting reflection on the move from products to services in society, and their growth shows that our culture is perhaps moving away from physical gifts towards tokens for experiences. It might be a logical intersection of the gift voucher meets the experience economy, or something more basic at work. I think the latter, since it could be seen as the ultimate expression of “its the thought that counts”, since it is the thought that is packaged and given, rather than a voucher as a proxy for a physical gift.

I think that the interesting things about packaging all of these experiences is that there are multiple actor collaborations that need to be in place to make a package work. Something I am curious about, is how far along the customer journey the package suppliers are involved. Do they request feedback regarding the final experience, or are they just interested in the point of sale? To find out, I think I will have to wait and see if anybody gifts me an experience this Christmas (hint hint).

I came across this really nice explanation of infographics over on Core 77 recently and wanted to share it. In Service Design, the importance of visualization cannot be underestimated, and this short animation gets the point across really well.

The Value of Data Visualization from Column Five on Vimeo.

It also is a great example of a simple yet effective presentation technique. Informative and experiential – two for one, is always a good deal.

Quite a lot of people have liked the touch-point cards and have been spreading the word about how useful they are in service innovation projects. I have received several emails requesting sets, but have been unable to deliver. The first two print runs of the cards went very quickly. Now, I’m pleased to say that we have just received a third set of cards.

The third set includes some new cards and now all cards are together. For version two, we added new cards, but had to take a few old ones out out to make space for the new ones in the existing box. We have now increased the size of the box to make them all fit in. This makes version three the most up-to-date, including all cards produced so far. To really confuse everyone, there is no visible sign of version numbers on the cards or the boxes. But, they are still free, and a gift from the wonderfully kind Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO). If you have version two, you probably won’t notice the difference.

If you would like a set, please send me a mail at simon (dot) clatworthy (at) aho (dot) no, including a full post address, and we will send them off to you.  I ask one favour in return: give me some feedback regarding your reflections on their use. The development of the cards was (and still is) a part of research work, and I am trying to understand how they are used, what works and does not work etc. I am really interested to find out what people think of them. In particular,  if people experience that they can constrain idea generation. This is something that people mention as a danger, but not one that I have experienced myself. The argument is that by showing a finite group of  touch-points, that new touch-points will not be considered. It makes sense, but I keep finding that innovation in services occurs not so much from the invention of totally new touch-points, but from the use of existing touch-points in new contexts (or the coordination of touch-points). For example online share trading revolutionized ownership of stocks, but that came from using an existing touch-point (internet) in a way that was new to the service (trading of stocks). Of course, if you are Apple, then inventing new touch-points is part of your business model, and the cards would only have limited use. For most service providers, existing platforms are more than enough.

If you are totally confused about what I am talking about, and have missed out on the touch-point interest, then take a look at this article (link) in the International Journal of Design. It explains their development and use, in a researchy language. In terms of a short sharp business language –  they just work.

I have received a lot of positive feedback recently about the post describing the experience centric organization (here and here). Some of the companies I am working with are now exploring what it means to be an experience centric organization, and what it means for project teams.

Since Steve Jobs has been on my mind a lot recently, I have been going through some very old YouTube videos of him describing his vision for Apple in 1997, because I think my idea of experience centricity (as something different, but related, to customer centricity) appeared about this time. I remember reading a quote from the Harvard Business Review from that time saying that:

As products become more and more alike technologically, the experience a product gives will become crucial in peoples choices

Well, I came across this video on YouTube, where Steve Jobs answers a pretty scathing question from the audience in a very good way.

He explains the way he wants Apple to develop products and how this means balancing multiple aspects around the customer experience. At about 1:52, he says:

You have got to start with the customer experience, and then work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology, and figure out where you are going to sell it

So, I guess its fitting to say that way back in 1997, Steve Jobs described the experience-centric organization. He didn’t say it exactly in that way, but I think its a fitting tribute to the man to say that already 15 years ago (almost), he had the vision of an experience-centric organization. The surprising thing, is that very very few organizations have managed to follow him there. Now, I wonder why that is? Its obviously a source of competitive advantage, but for some reason, organizations just cannot manage to get there.

I came across this website (link)  recently, and to me as a service designer, it has an instant appeal. It just offers one product as best in category, and thats it.

But, somewhere, is a nagging feeling that it is just too simple, and that things can’t be that easy. I don’t know if you share this feeling, but I think that as a concept, offering no choice  is perceived as a fantastic thing. “Oh, finally, not having to spend ages researching a product” (and studies show that people spend quite a lot of time on the net looking for recommendations before purchasing).  However, I think that they are confusing this initial positive reaction to the offering with the experience of choosing something through the site. When it comes to the experience, I believe that such extreme simplicity is a negatively perceived thing in todays society. Why?

When you refer to research on choice, there are two biases that often are mentioned. The first is a bias to go for the default option – following the herd. In that way, just buy this one, has everything in its favour. The second bias is that of relating a choice to something cheaper, to feel that you have bought quality over price. The site seems to score quite well there too, since it actually offers three options when you click on a category – a cheap one, an expensive one and one in the middle. Research says that people will like this. So, in many ways, they have done everything right. They have picked up on the fact that we negatively respond to too many choices, they use clever algorithms to pick the most popular choice and they bracket the options, to make you feel that you have chosen the right price-point.

So, why do I still feel that its just too easy?  My background as a service designer should applaud this, and in many ways, I think this is a really cool piece of service design. I just think that they have made the offering too easy and have missed out on one of the key elements of the experience society – our innate need to feel individual and unique.  Just like in the 1950′s, cake mixes were too simple, and manufacturers had to make them a bit more complex (by  getting people to add eggs and therefore let them feel they were adding part of themselves to the mix), I think they might need to pamper to the need people have to feel as individuals. So perhaps, this offering presents the idea that you as a customer have a simple need, and therefore are yourself somehow simple. My view is that customers like to feel like they are treated as individuals (as in the Monty Python sketch – you are all individuals – we are all individuals – Im not), even though they might in the end follow the majority of people. We spend a lot of time constructing our individual identities, and this site kinda says indirectly  that I am not in any way special.

What would I do about it? Well, I think that the offering is basically good – only one thing to relate to. However, I think I would change it slightly to be only one option based upon my individual needs. In other words, offer a very short process that allows people to quickly specify their needs, and then offer them three options, the best, and two bracketed alternatives. If they did this, then you would feel individual, special, pampered to, and that you really have simply found the best.

I might be over complicating this, and I am sure there are plenty of people who just want one choice. I just think it could be even better by offering some simple questions at first, to give some tailoring. That is after all, what massive data sets can help with. What do you think?

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