19 Jan 2016

The importance of service design with Jennie Winhall

By Guest

Jennie Winhall is an independent service design and social innovation specialist whose work spans three countries. She works with public and private sector organisations to design services that create impact, change behaviours and solve social issues. Last week she came to BGV for an all day workshop with our teams on service design. She was kind enough to sit down for an interview explaining just how important service design is to startup success.

For those that don’t know, what is Service Design?

Service design is the application of design thinking and practice to the development of services, rather than product, or fashion, or other domains that you might usually see design operate in. 

Service designers are constantly thinking about the experience that the end user has of a service as they are using it. They think about how the roles, tools and infrastructure that make up a service is designed in order to create the best experience possible for end users. Service designers are chiefly concerned with what makes a service work well, what makes a service efficient or inefficient, what keeps people coming back etc. 

The objective then of service designers is to ensure an organisation delivers on its mission through the services they provide.

Why do you think service design is important for startups?

All the teams here [being accelerated at BGV] are offering services – whether they like it or not! In any startup you are trying to match your offer with consumer value – otherwise you don’t have a business.

Most service designers have a good understanding of user research methods and techniques that inform the way a service is constructed. Early stage startups often begin to build their service having made a lot of assumptions about who their users will be and how they’ll interact with their service. Those assumptions can often be wrong, and so the more you go along without doing something to check what your users really want, the more money can waste basically.

Aside from their users, it’s important for startups to consider what business processes they’ll need, and who they will need to partner with in order to deliver their services effectively. Service design allows startups to map all this out and identify potential problems in advance.

What’s a good place to start for those thinking about service design?

Servicedesignbooks.org is a great place to start, as it brings the many different aspects of service design to the one place. I personally recommend that startups also check out Ben Reason’s ‘Service Design: From Insight to Implementation’ for a comprehensive overview and Disrupt by Luke Evans for how to co-design services with your potential customers. 

Bethnal Green Ventures is an accelerator programme that invests in early stage tech startups tackling big social and environmental problems. To find out more about our programme, please click here.