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The library of essays of Proakatemia


Kirjoittanut: Seungyeon Shin - tiimistä SYNTRE.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.

Stickdorn, Marc, kirjoittaja. Hormess, Markus Edgar, kirjoittaja.; Lawrence, Adam, kirjoittaja.; Schneider, Jakob
This is service design doing : applying service design in the real world : a practitioner's handbook
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 12 minuuttia.

Behind the Scenes of Customer Experience: Service Design


Written by Doneé Barendze, Katrina Cirule, Seungyeon Shin.




During the Learning Journey of team SYNTRE, the authors of the essay explored the topic of Service Design. Businesses have to have customers, and there is no doubt that building good customer relationships is vital which starts with creating good customer experiences. What is needed to build good user experiences?


Coach Tutta advised us to look deeper in Service Design. As a design discipline, it is focused on solving the right problem and understanding needs, instead of jumping straight to a “solution”. In this essay, the authors will dive deeper in understanding what makes a good customer experience, what is Service Design and the importance of it, how Double Diamond reflects this design process, as well as how divergent and convergent thinking affects business operations.




What are the factors that contribute to good customer experiences? And what are the factors that lead to bad customer experiences? In the “Service Design” training session held during the Learning Journey week, people answered the questions and shared them. Of course, it varied a lot depending on the products and services, but there were some common and dominant factors that make good and bad customer experiences. For example, the most common factor was a service person whom customers encountered first. Even if the product/service itself is good enough, the customer experience can be terrible when they get bad treatment from the service person.


It was clear from the discussion that what makes good customer service is not just about the end product/service, in fact, there are many other factors affecting it. And that is the first step to understanding service design. Service design Is “HOW”. How to create good customer experiences for end users. So, service design involves internal/organizational that include people, processes, and technologies (NNgroup 2019.)




So, what is Service design and what does the term mean? It seems it is something about customer experience and collaboration, but does it include everything related to them or just part of them? According to This is service design doing, the same question was asked to 150 service designers, and the most popular definition of service design was “it is an approach to balance between customer needs and needs of businesses to bring quality service experiences, rooted in design thinking and human-centered process which enables a holistic understanding of services”(Stickdorn, Marc, et al 2018, 18-19.)


There are 5 principles of service design that were introduced in This is Service Design Thinking, and the principles were: User-centered, Co-creative, Sequencing, Evidencing, and Holistic.


Firstly, what does it mean by user-centered? In service design, “User” includes not only the customers and users but also service providers, and even stakeholders and non-customers. In other words, user-centered is human-centered which refers to considering all of the people who are affected by the service.


Co-creative emphasizes the nature of service design: value generated from a service can be done through “co-creation” with customers together. Service is designed collaboratively with stakeholders with active engagement in the design process.


Sequencing highlights the importance of experiences in a service design which includes relationships between various moments and “touch points”. A customer journey map is a well-known tool for sequencing. Service design is sequential.


Evidencing refers to the intangibility of service design, and it is about highlighting the value that is created by service design which might be done out of sight. Think about folded hotel toilet paper which implies that the room has been cleaned. Evidencing is about showing values.


Lastly, Holistic. It shows service design is about shaping the entirety of service by examining all our senses to an experience, the variety of individual journeys which can be brought by one service, and the identity of the organization. It has to take into consideration stakeholders’ needs (Stickdorn, Marc, et al 2018, 24-26.)




Traditional economics aims to clearly distinguish products and services. Goods are tangible and consumable, for example, shoes or an apple. Whereas services are exchanges that do not result in ownership, for instance, medical services or public transportation. (Gibbons 2017)


However, when one talks about service design, it does not mean designing a service. Service design refers to understanding how the behind-the-scenes processes interact with each other, regardless of what the company offers. It is important to understand since the activity of planning and organizing a business’s resources directly improves employees, and therefore, indirectly improves the user’s experience as a whole. The responsibility of running smooth business operations should not fall only on the management’s shoulders. Service design is the responsibility of the whole organization. (Gibbons 2017)


Since every member of the organization is involved in the processes of Service Design, the benefits it brings are:

  1. combining the needs of a customer and the needs of a company– although an increased customer experience is the end by-product of Service Design, it also focuses on including the company’s goals in planning the execution of company operations. Especially nowadays, when the market is changing rapidly, and the resources are getting more limited;
  2.   closer cooperation between departments– Service Design breaks the silos that big corporations often time face. It is not only about what each department does separately but how smoothly the ideas and responsibilities are spread internally. This also embraces systems thinking on the organizational level;
  3. leading customer’s experience of the company– people are increasingly buying experiences rather than concrete things. And Service Design processes are tightly connected to improving the overall pleasure of a customer interacting with a company. One can think of it this way: if there are two coffee shops right next to each other offering the same coffee for the same price, Service Design is what often makes the customer choose one coffee shop over the other. (Wan 2018)




In March 2023, the authors of this essay visited Gofore, a technology company that offers digital services based here, in Tampere, with more than 19 offices around Europe. The company is known for its great working environment and professional, yet very humane approach to business. As they state on the website: “Gofore’s Collective Agreement is based on Gofore’s values – being a great workplace for everyone and thriving on customer success – which have guided the company for more than 20 years.” A great example of their efforts is the prize Engineer Employer of The Year in Finland which Gofore received in 2022. (Gofore 2022)


In the company visit, Gofore presented their approach to great employee and customer satisfaction (see Figure 1). As they explained, everything begins with great employee engagement, which then results in an excellent customer experience. Later on, loyal customers express their appreciation of their work and Gofore can even more invest in their employees in order to boost customer experience yet again. The authors of this essay believe that Gofore is an excellent real-life example, of how Service Design improves both employee and customer satisfaction.


FIGURE 1. Service Design example in Gofore. (Gofore n.d.)




If UX design is “WHAT”, which is about anything that the end user encounters, Service design is “HOW”. How to create good customer experiences for end users. So, service design involves internal/organizational that include people, processes, and technologies. (NNgroup 2018.)


The relationship between them can be understood as a front stage and a backstage in a theater performance. The audience sees everything on the stage with the actor, costumes, and set. But it is true that to be able to create the performance, many things are happening behind the stage with the director, costume, and set designers.


IMAGE 1. Frontstage and backstage. (NNgroup 2018)


In service design, backstage components include policies, technologies, infrastructures, and systems.


However, front-stage components include channels, touchpoints, etc. There are different kinds of channels which include traditional/physical channels like talking to a representative in person or digital channels such as websites and mobile apps. And touch points mean a specific interaction between the customer and the organization.


For example, when a customer tries to visit the theater, there can be multiple touch points such as browsing movie times, purchasing a ticket on the phone, calling the theater for customer service, downloading tickers, and scanning tickets for entry. And a customer journey map consists of a series of these touch points (Gibbons 2017.)


As a tool of service design, journey maps can be a useful and flexible tool that helps find gaps in customer experiences and come up with solutions as it visualizes the experience of customers over time. It can be used in three ways: firstly, for gathering user stories in interviews, secondly for understanding and improving the current services by finding pain points, and thirdly for imagining future services visually and transparently. Journey maps include existing experiences and future experiences. For example, it starts with customers recognizing their need, looking for a service for a need, booking and paying for it, complaining about their dissatisfaction with the service, and using the service again. One of the biggest strengths that journey maps as a tool in service design is that they make customer experiences that are intangible to be visible while making a common understanding between team members possible (Stickdorn, Marc, et al 2018, 43-45.)




Double Diamond is a design process model that was adapted from the divergence-convergence model created by Bela H. Benathy, a 20th-century Hungarian-American linguist, and was first introduced in 2004 by the British Design Council. Double Diamond is not only a tool. It presents the whole process of Service Design (see Figure 2).


FIGURE 2. Visualization of Double Diamond. (The British Design Council 2004)


On the left side, one can see the problem space. It is a place for designers to explore the challenge (discover) and end with a clear definition of the problem (define). They key idea of this diamond is to design the right things. Whereas, on the right side there is a solution space, where ideas for a solution are generated (develop) and delivered to the end user (deliver). They goal of this diamond is to design things right. (Design for Health 2020)


Before going deeper into the 4 domains of Double Diamond, it is crucial to understand what divergence and convergence means. Based on the Cambridge Dictionary, definition of the word “diverge” means to “go in different directions from the same point”, but “converge” stands for “coming together and meeting”. It is important to be distinguished since divergence and convergence are the mindset basis of Double Diamond. However, a deeper explanation of these will be provided later in the essay.


The first stage of the Double Diamond is Discover. It is a stage of exploration, where the team, applying divergent thinking, explores the problems and root causes for them. Since this step is divergent, all ideas are included in order to collect broad information about the challenge. Discover stage enhances curiosity and leading through uncertainty with the tools of:

  1.   mind maps;
  2.   multi-perspective problem framing;
  3.   brainstorming;
  4.   field research- interviews, focus groups, observation;
  5.   consumer journey mapping. (Elmansy 2021)


The second stage is Define. Through convergent thinking, the team narrows down the ideas into a clear definition of the problem. Define step calls for analyzing the evidence and filtering ideas through the tools of:

  1.   root-cause analysis (also known as fish-bone analysis);
  2.   5 WHYs- asking the question “why” until it reaches the core problem;
  3.   affinity diagrams. (Elmansy 2021)


The third stage is Develop, where one enters the Solution space. It again opens the mind with a divergent thinking, where the team builds prototypes and tests it involving the end user. Since it is based on divergent approach, all sort of ideas for the solution are tested, and different kind of target audience personas are involved in this process. Helpful tools for the Develop stage are:

  1.   minimum viable product (MVP)- creating a limited version of the solution with the minimum features that make it workable to test;
  2.   rapid prototyping- here come virtual simulations or 3D printing;
  3.   storytelling;
  4.   consumer journey mapping- using the service and evaluating it. (Elmansy 2021)


The final stage of the Double Diamond is Deliver. Again, using convergent thinking, the team focuses on narrowing down and delivering the final solution of a problem. It is also crucial to collect feedback from the end-user since this step will enable the company to develop in the future. Examples of tools for Deliver stage are:

  1.   surveys- collecting feedback through ratings or simple questionnaires;
  2.   think aloud- the consumer uses the product while describing the experience explicitly;
  3.   shadowing- the design team follows the end-user to take notes of the solution experience. (Elmansy 2021)


The Double Diamond process starts with a problem and ends with a solution. However, this process is not only linear. Collecting feedback and iterating always take part to make the experience of an employee and customer as good as possible. The Double Diamond reflects how design process connects team members, end-users, stakeholders and leadership altogether to enable a culture of innovation and long-lasting positive change. (The British Design Council 2019)




As mentioned above, the process of service design is an ongoing process in modern day business, aimed at understanding customers and customer experiences. In the bigger picture, service design requires a lot of creativity in areas like problem-solving, innovation, service enhancements, etc. This is where the creative thinking process plays an essential role behind the scenes of the final service output. Divergent thinking, which refers to originality and variety of ideas through expansion and convergent thinking, which refers to narrowing down the most relevant ideas. (P, Meriläinen)


8.1 Divergent and convergent thinking defined


Divergent thinking refers to expanding ideas to include all the possibilities out there, using free form innovation and thinking out of  the box. In practice it can be explained using an already existing entity or notion such as arts, running, a piece of paper, etc. and asking the question: into how many different things could this thing be turned into? For example, running is running, but through using divergent thinking, one can see a picture of somebody running and try to place it in as many situations as one can come up with. Person A might be running away from a tiger, they could be running to a loved one or they could be running as a sport. In short, divergent thinking refers to turning one specific stimulus like a sound  and spreading that out into plenty of different divergent stimuli. Generating ideas and innovation is based on divergent thinking and the golden rule with this type of thinking is that there is no right or wrong ideas, but there can be plenty of ideas co-existing in the same space, the more ideas about one thing, the better divergent thinking is occuring. With divergent thinking, the sky’s the limit, there is no box that ideas need to be placed into, possibilities are endless. It happens in our prefrontal cortex and focuses on the parts of the brain that are responsible for mental flexibility. It is important to keep in mind that divergent ideas in the thinker’s mind might not make sense in the observer’s mind if not thoroughly explained. Creative thinking only happens once the divergent ideas can clearly be expressed from the thinker’s mind to the observer´s. A creative person digs for organized information in order to access their creativity. They break things down in as many ways as possible.


Convergent thinking is the opposite of divergent. It is all about narrowing down ideas and putting them into a box in the most logical and linear way possible. In other words, combining different concepts into one concrete thing, for it to make sense in the real world. In this kind of thinking, the thinker needs to take a list of things and turn it into a single, understandable, realistic concept that obeys the laws of nature. Convergent thinking is all about accessing memories and understanding how the world works realistically.


The main point of convergent thinking is focus and consistency. It often tends to feel harder than divergent thinking, since it is more on the analytical and problem-solving side, it is a puzzle that is supported by very detailed brain circuits. It lies more on the “common sense” side of thoughts and ideas, making it more realistic and attainable. It goes hand in hand with rational decision making and helps to decrease the potential for overthinking a solution or innovation. Convergence happens faster and gets to the point directly. It serves most of its purpose during logical thinking, and follows more of a linear line of thoughts. Thoughts are organized and structured.


Both divergent and convergent thinking is equally important for the process of creativity, innovation and solving problems, they both serve their own valuable purpose in different ways. (Huberman 2022)

FIGURE 3. Visual representation of divergent and convergent thinking.


8.2 Balancing convergent and divergent thinking


Equally as important as understanding the difference between these two types of thinking, is understanding how to balance them. Both types of thinking have their own ups and downs, which depends on the person using them and the project they are applied to. Nonetheless, they can both be beneficial when used in the following way:

  1. Divergence comes first. Explore all the possibilities and ideas, brainstorm as much as possible. View the project/concept from different angles and perspectives. Adjust to new points of views i.e customer´s POV, employees POV, own POV, etc.;
  2. After all the possibilities have been explored and jotted down, convergence comes into play second. Analyze the potential pros and cons of each idea, evaluate them in depth. Create some type of comparison technique which can be used to compare options logically. This will separate ideas with great potential from those with less.


After completing this process, one should have gained an understanding of what step to take next in the process. Divergence leads to convergence and using these ways of thinking when creativity is required, will make decisions, innovations, etc. much easier. (Guthrie 2022)



Service design is an essential part of a company’s daily operations and there is a lot of thought and processes that go unseen. This “behind the scenes” process of so-called service design affects many stakeholders and includes various aspects of design, based on principles, tools, and ways of thinking. Good customer experience is just the final output of a well-constructed service design process.


Service design focuses on two creative spaces, as illustrated in the double diamond above, the problem space and the solution space. To have an efficient problem-solving strategy, creative thinking needs to occur and this is where divergent and convergent thinking comes into play. Based on real-life experience from the writers of this essay, we can conclude that from a customer experience point of view, one can tell whether a company has a well-constructed service design process or not, as it reflects authentically in the output of the product/service, most often in the way that the customer is treated.





Design for Health. 2020. The Design Process. Read on 02.04.2023. https://www.designforhealth.org/understanding-design/the-design-process


Elmansy, R. 2021. The Double Diamond Design Thinking Process and How to Use it. Read on 02.04.2023. https://www.designorate.com/the-double-diamond-design-thinking-process-and-how-to-use-it/


Gibbon, S. 2017. Service Design 101. Read on 02.04.2023. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/service-design-101/


Gofore. 2022. Gofore Awarded the Engineer Employer of The Year in Finland. Read on 02.04.2023. https://gofore.com/en/news/gofore-awarded-the-engineer-employer-of-the-year-in-finland/


Guthrie, G. 2022. Divergent vs. convergent thinking: how to find the right balance. Read on 24.03.2023.



Huberman, A. 2022. Creative Ideas & Divergent Thinking by Andrew Huberman. Published on 27.12.2022. Referred on 24.03.2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c59DpnCLpTg


Madison, T. 2021. Creating a culture of divergent thinking. Read on 24.03.2023. https://blooloop.com/brands-ip/opinion/divergent-thinking/


Meriläinen, P. 2021. How to solve problems using a creative mindset in the service design process? Read on 25.03.2023. https://bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/how-to-solve-problems-using-a-creative-mindset-in-the-service-design-process-74d51d27dd37


NNgroup. 2019. UX vs. Service Design. Published on 21.06.2019. Referred on 01.04.2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKxt1YKvT9


Stickdorn, M. Hormess, M. Lawrence, A. Schneider, J. 2018. This is service design doing: applying service design in the real world: a practitioner’s handbook. O’Reilly, Incorporated.


The British Design Council. 2019. Framework for Innovation: Design Council’s evolved Double Diamond. Read on 02.04.2023. https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/skills-learning/tools-frameworks/framework-for-innovation-design-councils-evolved-double-diamond/


Wan, M. 2018. Why Do We Need Service Design?- The 5 Benefits. Read on 02.04.2023. https://contribyte.fi/en/2018/02/26/why-do-we-need-service-design/

Soonie from Entre.

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