Good Services book review

So much of what we now consume, especially digitally, is actually a service.

Want to buy a sweater online? The website and surrounding process around that are all delivering a service to you.

Want to get some help with that new tech gadget you bought? Service. From the way you find out how to get help, through to the team helping you turn it off and turn it on again.

We are all at arm’s length from our customers now. We assume they know how to interact with us and get the best from us but that’s rarely the case.

With lifetime value, customer experience and service design an ever-pressing concern for our customers, we reached this month for a new book by Lou Downe “Good Services: How to design services that work.”

Enshrined in the book are Downe’s 15 principles of good service design, and it’s important reading for any CX or CS practitioner looking to improve customer experience and service. There is no point delivering fabulous random acts of kindness if your website is unnavigable. There is little point honing the copy of the “thanks for buying!” email, if the process of doing so was tortuous.

As Downe herself observes, “Building a service that works is a sorely undervalued activity of service design. In the rush to create something innovative, both old and new services often forget a user’s most basic needs.

At this time of great change, going back to basics and looking for what you can simplify and improve for your customers is a worthwhile activity. With that in mind, we bring you our top 5 takeaways and quotes from Good Services. So, grab a seasonally-themed chocolate and let’s get into it…

Good Services by Lou Downe book review

Most of the services we all use and consume today weren’t actually designed at all.” 

Downe makes the point that each time we choose to make a change – maybe in how we incentivise staff, change a policy or buy a new piece of tech, we are changing the design of a service. As a result, many services we all use are not designed, or were designed a long time ago and have changed beyond all recognition. They are therefore worthy of revisit and reengineering from then ground up.

“Make no assumptions about how much your user knows”

We all have terminology, processes and approaches, even jargon that we think our users understand. It’s critical to question this. The author makes the point that all services should assume absolutely no prior experience or usage… swiftly followed by the very thought-provoking point that there will never be any service where everyone using it has used it before.

“Knowing what proportion of your service should be human is only one half of the problem; the other half comes in understanding what users need from this human contact.”

Something we see all the time at Customer Thermometer, many of our users will raise a ticket to ask a question, and what they actually need to know to use our service is not the same thing as the question they are asking. This is where human contact comes in, interpolating from the question we are asked to what the user is actually trying to achieve. As Downe points out, what differentiates you is not whether or not your service fails (all do, at some point) but how you can respond humanly when it does.

A good service should have no dead ends

If there was ever an advocate for mystery shopping and mystery using your own services, it’s this point. How many times do you, as a consumer of any kind of service, hit a dead end. So often we hit the end of the process without achieving what we wanted to and with no obvious way to access help in a quick and efficient way. Seek out dead ends in your services and fix them.

A good service is good for everyone – users, staff, your organisation, the world.

Every service encourages behaviours – both good and bad. What can do to ensure your services help your team, and the people they serve, operate in a way that serves your brand, your reputation, your profitability and the world well rather than badly?

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