Creating Connected Customer Experiences: Why Engine Is The Best Choice For Your Organisation

Creating a seamless customer experience across all channels and touchpoints is crucial for companies to stand out in today’s crowded market. While many design agencies can improve customer experiences within a single touchpoint and large consultancies can advise on broad strategy and technology, achieving consistency and cohesion across the entire customer journey is a challenge for complex service organisations with multiple stakeholders and systems.

This is where Engine Service Design excels.

With 20 years of experience in designing services and experiences that feel joined-up for customers, while also defining a more connected operation and organisation to deliver them, Engine has honed a unique hybrid team and approach that blends creative agency expertise with operational and organisational acumen.

So, what does this mean for you?

Organisational acumen

At Engine, we have a deep understanding of the responsibilities and priorities of crucial stakeholders within organisations. Our ability to engage teams from the shop floor to the boardroom, and our expertise in collaboration and negotiation, enables us to make things happen.

Unlike most consultancies that align with specific commissioning roles in organisations, we’ve been commissioned by roles in many business areas. This approach makes sense because service design and customer experience should not belong only to one or two areas of an organisation. As a result, we’re equipped to speak to and work with many roles and facilitate collaboration, ensuring a holistic and integrated approach to service design.

Technology-agnostic and independent

We don’t favour a single delivery solution; instead, we focus on connecting the dots. Since the beginning, we’ve worked in the ‘translation space’ between strategy and design, spanning horizontally across a service’s many channels and touchpoints.

Our approach enables us to understand the nuances of each touchpoint and how they fit into the overall customer experience. We’re committed to delivering comprehensive solutions that address every aspect of the customer journey, ensuring that each touchpoint works together to create a seamless and enjoyable experience for customers.

Equipped for operational complexity with years of experience

We’ve learned to embrace complexity by tackling a wide range of projects that span various industries and sectors. From technology programs and new digital services to built infrastructure, national infrastructure programs, engineering organisations, frontline culture and development, and envisioning branded retail and leisure destinations, value-added services, and frontline deployment, we’re effective creatives and service geeks who thrive on solving complex problems.

Our expertise and experience enable us to approach each project with a fresh perspective, delivering innovative solutions that drive meaningful results.

Service design specialists through-and-through

If you have an in-house team of service designers or work with agencies that do service design, you are part of a ‘movement’ in design that’s been developed and enriched through use for 20 years. Engine has been there from the start when Oliver and Joe founded the agency, and it’s all we do.

At Engine we’ve worked inside some unique and complicated organisations, including Barclays, Mercedes-Benz, Emirates Airlines and more, so we understand that the design journey is just as important as the destination. By doing what we do to help join up your organisation, we can help you connect the experience for your customers.

If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to chat – book an initial consultation with one of our service design experts today.

To learn more about Connected Service Design, click here.

How To Choose The Right Service Design Consultancy For Your Organisation

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, customer experience has become a critical component of success. As organisations strive to deliver better experiences, many are turning to service design consultants to help them achieve their goals.

A good service design consultancy can help a company improve customer satisfaction, increase loyalty, and drive revenue growth through reimagining a customer’s experience by identifying pain points in the customer journey and developing solutions that meet the needs and exceed expectations of customers. Through their expertise in design thinking, customer research, and user experience, service design consultants can provide a holistic approach to designing seamless, connected experiences.

Selecting the right service design consultancy can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line – but with so many service design consultancies to choose from, how do you select the right one?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the factors you need to consider when choosing a service design consultancy to help you choose the right one for your organisation’s unique requirements.

Step 1 – Be Clear on Your Objectives

Having clarity on your objectives is a crucial step in choosing the right service design consultancy for your business. Since service design can tackle multiple business challenges, it is important to have a clear problem statement so that you can identify what you want to achieve. Are you looking to…

  • Grow your business?
  • Innovate your customer experience?
  • Increase customer retention?
  • Reduce customer complaints?
  • Something else?

Whatever your objectives may be, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve so that you can communicate these goals to potential service design consultancies.

Step 2 – Research Service Design Consultancies

Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, you can begin your search for the right service design consultancy.

When it comes to starting your research, it’s important to consider the different types of consultancies available. Some specialise in a particular channel or touchpoint, such as digital services, while others may have a broader scope of expertise. Understanding the areas of specialisation of different consultancies can help you narrow down your search and find a consultancy that has the right expertise and experience to meet your needs.

To find potential service design consultancies, there are several methods you can employ.

Firstly, you can conduct an online search through search engines or professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn.

In addition to online searches, you can also leverage the resources of professional organisations, such as the Service Design Network. These organisations often have directories of consultancies that you can search through, which can help you to identify potential service design consultancies based on their areas of expertise, geographic location, and track record.

Lastly, you can also ask for referrals from colleagues or industry contacts who have worked with service design consultants in the past. By seeking referrals, you can gain insight into the quality of the service and the consultancies’ ability to deliver results.

When researching service design consultancies, it’s crucial to examine their portfolio and evaluate the case studies they present.
By reviewing their portfolio, you can get a sense of the consultancy’s design style and see examples of their work.

Similarly, case studies offer a glimpse into the consultancy’s problem-solving approach, the methodologies they see, and the outcomes they achieve.

Examining case studies can also provide valuable insights into the consultancy’s ability to work collaboratively with clients, adapt to different contexts, and deliver results that meet their client’s goals.

Step 3 – Evaluate Your Options

After conducting your research, take the time to carefully evaluate your options. It’s important to look for factors such as experience, expertise, and reputation to ensure you choose a consultant with the skills you’ll need to achieve your business goals.

Experience & Qualifications

When evaluating service design consultancies, experience and qualifications should be key factors to consider. Look for consultancies that have relevant experience in your industry or with similar business challenges. Additionally, consider the qualifications of the consultancy’s team members. Do they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to provide the services you need? Ensuring that the consultancy has the appropriate experience and qualifications can give you confidence in its ability to deliver successful outcomes.


Next, examine their reputation and client references. Look for consultancies with a strong reputation in the industry and a proven track record of delivering results. In addition to business reviews, a great way to gain a deeper understanding of a consultancy’s capabilities and working style is by speaking directly with their previous clients.

You can gain valuable insights into the consultancy’s ability to deliver results, their communication style, and how well they were able to collaborate with clients – all helping you make an informed decision when choosing the right consultancy to partner with.

Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is equally important when choosing a service design consultancy. You should look for a consultancy that understands your business and shares your values. This can help ensure that their approach to service design aligns with your business objectives, making it easier for you to work together towards a common goal.

Here are some ways to get started:

  • Research the agency’s culture by looking at their website, social media, and online reviews to give you an idea of their work style and how they operate
  • Arrange a meeting or workshop to meet their team and discuss their approach to service design to help evaluate whether their working style aligns with your organisation’s culture and values
  • Evaluate their communication style and approach to collaboration. How do they communicate with clients? Do they value transparency and open communication?
  • Look for shared values. Does your organisation place a high value on sustainability? Diversity? Creativity? A shared value system between your organisation and the service design agency can help ensure that their approach aligns with your mission and goals. 

Step 4 – Making The Decision

After conducting thorough research and evaluating your options, it’s time to make your choice.

You should take into account the factors that are most critical to you, such as the consultancy’s expertise, experience, reputation, and cultural fit. It’s also important to consider the cost and scope of the project and whether the consultancy can deliver the results you need within your budget and timeline.

Once you have made your decision, remember to communicate your expectations clearly to your chosen service design consultancy. This includes defining your goals, setting clear timelines and deadlines, and outlining your budget and any constraints. The consultancy should provide you with a detailed proposal that outlines their approach, scope of work, and costs.

Throughout the project, it’s important to work closely with your chosen service design consultancy to ensure that they deliver the results you need. This involves regular communication, feedback, and collaboration to ensure that the project is on track and meeting your expectations.


Choosing the right service design consultancy can be a daunting task, but it’s a crucial step in enhancing your customer experience. By understanding your needs, researching service design consultancies, evaluating their capabilities, and making an informed decision, you can select a consultancy that will help you deliver exceptional customer experiences and achieve business success.

At Engine Service Design, we understand the importance of choosing the right service design consultancy for your business. Honed over 20 years and applied to a range of sectors, our Service Design System helps organisations create remarkable service experiences across all customer touchpoints that generate revenue, save costs, increase customer satisfaction and obtain investment.

Our team of service design experts have a wealth of experience and expertise, and we pride ourselves on our ability to understand our client’s needs and deliver results that exceed their expectations.

If you’re looking for a service design consultancy that can help you achieve your business goals and deliver exceptional customer experiences, we’d love to chat with you. Click below to book a meeting with one of our service design experts.

To learn more about Connected Service Design, click here.

When Should I Use Service Design vs UX Design?

Service and UX design have the same goal: to provide an excellent user experience. But, when should you opt for one over the other? In this blog, we dive deep into their discrepancies – and when you should use each!

What’s the difference?

Service design and UX design are not the same. Service design is all about crafting remarkable end-to-end customer journeys, from a customer becoming aware of your service to building a relationship over time. It’s a holistic look at the entire ecosystem that powers your product or service, considering not only the customer’s journey but also the internal processes, policies, and technologies that enable the service to function.

On the other hand, UX design is focused on designing the user experience of a specific product or service. It includes designing the interface, interactions, and overall experience of a single product, such as a website or mobile app. UX design is concerned with making the product easy to use, engaging, and effective at meeting the user’s needs and goals.

While service design and UX design have different scopes, they are closely related. Good service design requires a strong understanding of user needs and preferences, which can be informed by UX research and design. Similarly, a well-designed product will be more effective within a well-designed service ecosystem.

When to use service design over UX?

Often used in industries such as healthcare, finance and transportation, service design is typically used when designing a comprehensive service ecosystem that encompasses multiple touchpoints and interactions between customers and an organisation. If you are designing a complex service that involves multiple touchpoints and interactions, service design is the way to go.

On the other hand, if you are designing a specific product or service, UX design is likely the more appropriate approach.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that these two approaches are not mutually exclusive. A successful service design should integrate UX design principles to ensure that the individual touchpoints and interactions are designed to meet user needs and expectations.

Can I ask my digital agency to do service design – or do I need another agency?

Before asking your digital agency to do service design, consider the following:

1. Assess the scope of work: Determine if the scope of work requires service design or if UX design would suffice. If the project involves designing the entire service ecosystem, service design is likely the more appropriate approach.

2. Check if the agency has experience in service design: Look for evidence of the agency’s experience in service design, such as case studies or client testimonials. Ask them about their process and methodology for service design.

3. Consider working with a specialised service design agency: If the project requires a comprehensive service design approach, consider working with a specialised service design agency that has experience and expertise in this area.

Ready to take the next steps in designing a remarkable service for your customers?

At Engine, we know how powerful the right connection can be between products, people and places. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to help make the world a better place, one service at a time, by designing remarkable services and experiences for our clients that create value through revenue generation, cost savings, customer satisfaction and obtaining investment.

Our Service Design System helps organisations such as Virgin Group, BMW and Dubai Airports to create award-winning service experiences with a measurable impact.

If you’d like to achieve results like this, we’d love to chat with you! Click below to book a meeting with a service design expert.

To learn more about Connected Service Design, click here.

How do I achieve a connected service? Do connected service design

Complex services require a special kind of finesse when it comes to making changes. It’s not like starting up something new: you don’t get an opportunity for do-overs if thousands (or millions!) are relying on your service, and there are legions of people involved in delivering the product or solution.

How do I create a connected service?

If you’re looking to make your service more interconnected, consistent and streamlined for customers however they may experience it, it’s important to keep in mind that it won’t be an overnight process; rather, it will involve evolving over time. To create a joined-up experience for your customers, you’ll need to break down organisational barriers and join forces. By working collaboratively, larger sections of the service can be re-imagined, developed and deployed – far beyond what one team or project alone could create!

Everyday services provide a fascinating opportunity for designing and collaborating. Every person deserves access to services that are thoughtfully created and crafted. However, it can be challenging to create these connected experiences in large organisations where services and experiences are shared across different departments. That’s where service design comes in!

What is service design?

Service design is the process of designing and improving services to meet the needs and expectations of users or customers. It is an interdisciplinary approach that combines elements of design thinking, user experience (UX) design, and business strategy.

It has become an increasingly prominent business capability in the past few decades – in fact, Engine helped invent the tools and approaches for designing and redesigning services that operate at scale, and have even written a book about it! Nowadays, organisations everywhere are recognising its value and are taking steps to integrate it into their everyday ways of working. But while some have already succeeded at this shift, not all organisations find it easy.

Leaders know that customer-centricity and service design are valuable, yet they may need help understanding the process and implications of designing ‘services’ instead of individual interactions and touchpoints. Done properly, this approach can streamline processes and give your organisation a competitive edge that focuses on providing quality interactions with every customer.

How to do service design well

Not sure where to start? Here are 7 pointers from our experts…

1. Define a customer experience vision

Clearly articulate the service and experience your organisation aims to deliver, aligned with the brand promise. Service design should focus on realising this vision.

2. Adopt a user centred approach

Design services that meet the needs and expectations of users. Understanding user perspectives, behaviours, and emotions is crucial, with users at the heart of the design and technology as an enabler.

3. Embrace collaboration

Service design is a collaborative process involving stakeholders from various disciplines. Collaborating with diverse stakeholders can generate a broader range of ideas, perspectives, and ensure alignment, making change management easier.

4. Use iteration

Emphasise iterative design, which involves continuous testing and refinement to improve the service’s design and functionality in line with evolving needs and customer feedback, even after the service goes live.

5. Take a holistic view

Service design should encompass the entire service ecosystem, including people, processes, and technology. This approach can identify potential areas of improvement and provide a comprehensive view of the service.

6. Communicate clearly

Effective service design requires clear communication with stakeholders to ensure everyone is aligned on the goals and objectives of the service. Clear communication can also help manage expectations and ensure the service is delivered as intended.

7. Evaluate and monitor

Regular evaluation and monitoring of service design are critical to ensure that the service meets user needs and achieves desired outcomes.

Keen to learn more?

Discover how to use design thinking and tools from the experts on business transformation – ‘Customer-Driven Transformation‘ by Engine’s founders! This innovative book will give you all of the insight necessary to inspire, lead and manage change within your organisation.

At Engine, we know how powerful the right connection can be between products, people and places. If you want to design your services with this in mind – let’s chat! Click below to book a meeting with a service design expert.

To learn more about Connected Service Design, click here.

What are fully connected services and why are they valuable?

A fully connected service prioritises customer experience by consistently and seamlessly integrating technology and data to connect digital touchpoints, frontline and operational teams, and physical spaces. This results in a delightful and effortless interaction for the customer, no matter the time, place, method, or reason for their interaction.

More than just multi-channel or omnichannel services, they include:

  • Digital products
    A connected service utilises customer and other relevant data, along with automation, to design digital products that deliver intuitive and straightforward interactions with the service. These revolutionary products elevate customers’ experiences in branded settings by integrating seamlessly into their environment – think ‘in store’ mode within a retailer’s mobile app, and the introduction of gamified elements within leisure and hospitality venues.
  • Customer service people
    Armed with technology, customer service representatives have the ability to leverage customer and other data, as well as automation, to provide the most straightforward, engaging, and empathetic interactions with customers. Through tailored roles, procedures, and behaviours that align perfectly with the brand’s values, customer service colleagues can embody the brand’s value proposition while delivering exceptional customer experiences.
  • Places and spaces
    By combining physical and sensory elements with digital experiences, brands can craft an immersive environment tailored to their customers’ needs. Specialised customer service initiatives add a personal touch with theatrical flourishes that can help bring the space to life and leave lasting impressions.

Customers today expect seamless service from every touchpoint, across products and over time. To create this connected customer experience, service organisations need to ensure every aspect of their offer is seamlessly connected – from products, people and places to their associated promises, processes and policies.

A fully connected service and experience go beyond simply combining touchpoints – it requires a seamless integration of technology and the flow of data in the background.

These services are designed to facilitate consistently connected customer journeys by:

  1. Allowing customers to seamlessly transition between channels, knowing they can resume their journey where they left off.
  2. Recognising customers across interactions and remembering their profile, preferences, and interaction history with the service.
  3. Delivering a strong customer value proposition at every touchpoint in every channel, no matter where they are or who they’re interacting with.
  4. Enabling customers to complete their tasks and goals, or quickly finding a solution to do so, during their interaction with the business.
  5. Leveraging partnerships and other services for the benefit of customers, improving the overall experience.
  6. Reflecting the brand’s values and personality in each interaction and micro-interaction throughout the customer’s journey.
  7. Providing the best possible experience even when things go wrong, utilising the full range of services to resolve issues.

So… why are fully connected services valuable?

A fully connected service is like having a supercharged engine for your business. Not only can it help increase revenue, and generate new revenue streams, but also retain customers thanks to streamlined transactions across channels. What’s more? Development costs are reduced through improved coordination, plus you get comprehensive and consistent data so that smarter decisions can be made across your business – helping you to innovate your services and experiences.

Let’s take a closer look at the commercial benefits of achieving and operating a fully connected service…

  • Enhanced Revenue Generation
    Customers expect the ability to purchase products immediately. If an item is not available in-store, they should be able to order it for delivery or pick-up with ease. Similarly, in service industries, customers expect to be able to book appointments and start receiving value from the service immediately; if not readily available, they may seek out competitors.
  • Cost Savings in Development
    The more consistent touchpoints are, the easier it becomes to develop and maintain the underlying technology infrastructure, resulting in less for employees and customers to learn or relearn.
  • Improved Customer Retention
    If a customer books an appointment, they shouldn’t encounter any surprises when they arrive, and they don’t expect to have to log in at multiple points within the same business. This leads to frustration and may cause them to seek out competitors.
  • Improved Data for Informed Improvements
    By measuring performance at the touchpoint or interaction level, businesses can gain a better understanding of customer experiences and assess how well their needs are being fulfilled. A fully connected service makes it easier to adopt a holistic measurement approach, leading to more meaningful improvements.
  • Streamlined Coordination and Investment
    Designing, operating, and measuring a fully connected service makes it easier to identify issues and opportunities that span both customer experience and internal business functions. This allows for the coordination of resources around broader initiatives, reducing duplication, and pooling resources to invest in platform development and transformative work.

At Engine, our priority is to highlight the financial benefits of improved service design for our clients. We specialise in creating fully connected services that not only enhance the customer experience but also drive revenue growth and cost savings.

If you are interested in learning more, we would be delighted to have a conversation with you.

Simply schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable service design specialists to get started.

To learn more about Connected Service Design, click here.

Meeting the expectations of today’s consumers: 10 service design fundamentals

Advancements in technology, such as smartphones, modern web technologies, cloud computing, APIs, microservices, data standards, identity and payment platforms, among others, have enabled businesses to offer services and create experiences that are more accessible, desirable, personal, and exciting for users.

As these technological possibilities continue to become more user-friendly and enjoyable, consumers’ expectations for all services and organisations have shifted.

What are the key elements of service design for companies to fulfil modern consumer expectations? Let’s explore ten fundamental components.

  1. My smartphone is an extension of me.
    The smartphone has become an integral part of people’s lives, with consumers using it as their primary interface to interact with brands and manage their relationships.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, with smartphones serving as the go-to device for every stage of the customer journey – from researching to booking, ordering, paying, and accessing service history, loyalty, and personalisation.
    In response, many brands have adopted a mobile-first strategy, making all aspects of their customer operations accessible through a single, logged-in experience on a smartphone.
  2. Connect my services for me, frictionlessly.
    Brands are facing heightened consumer expectations for convenience, leading to an increase in solutions such as account linking and single sign-on (SSO) that simplify the process.
    With features like Apple’s ‘Hide my email’, users can register for apps with unique, random email addresses to protect their privacy. Tech giants like Google Wallet and Apple Pay provide effortless payment gateways that expedite transactions.
    These solutions enable customers to enjoy a smooth brand experience, free from complicated steps or cumbersome processes.
  3. Share my data with my permission.
    While many consumers remain cautious about companies and public sector organisations collecting and sharing their data, an increasing number are recognising the benefits. They do not want to repeatedly provide the same information to different organisations, nor do they want to bear the sole responsibility of maintaining their data, account details, service, purchase, or medical histories.
    Additionally, some regions have implemented legislation that promotes open standards, making it easier for companies to share customer data with their permission. This legislation has made it simpler for consumers to switch utility providers, consolidate bank account balances to get a clearer financial picture, provide doctors with a comprehensive medical record, and more.
  4. I only want to learn one way of doing something.
    Customers expect a unified and uninterrupted experience when engaging with your services.
    This means that regardless of which part of the service they are interacting with, the information, language, forms, and tasks should feel consistent across all channels and touchpoints. The last thing they want is to have to learn multiple ways of interacting with the same business!
    From only needing to log in with one username and password to having their customer records integrated across all platforms, streamlining their experiences across platforms provides them with a sense of a unified identity that is consistently recognised, no matter where they go. Careful consideration of changes should also be taken into account in order to maintain consistency and trust.
  5. I want to do it myself (most of the time).
    Consumers today often prefer self-service options as long as they are easy to use. Companies must therefore simplify and design their customer processes to be user-friendly and accessible to their customers.
    Providing control to customers can be challenging, but it’s crucial that the experience remains consistent across all parts of the customer journey, regardless of the self-service option they choose.
  6. More personalised personalisation, please.
    The concept of personalisation on a large scale is well-known, however, it is frequently limited to personalised sales.
    By utilising the power of automation and individual data points such as preferences, history, social graph and location to customise services on-the-go, businesses can create bespoke versions of their service tailored with each customer in mind.
  7. Heroes when I need them.
    Consumers expect services to be efficient, simple to use, and free of obstacles. When these expectations are met, the experience is seamless. However, if there is a problem or customers require assistance, they expect to be able to receive help quickly and easily.
    The expectation is for customer support to be available at all times and to be able to resolve issues in a timely manner. Customers look for “heroes” who can help in times of need, so companies must ensure that their support is accessible from all touchpoints and is coordinated across all aspects of the customer operation.
  8. Empathy and compassion when life becomes difficult.
    In today’s world, many transactions have become more convenient, but there are still instances where consumers face genuine challenges. In these situations, automation alone cannot provide the needed assistance.
    Consumers require brands that can exhibit genuine empathy and compassion by going beyond service delivery and connecting with them on a human level. A well-designed service should be able to recognize the need and make that human connection.
  9. Everything as standard.
    Consumers are increasingly valuing the quality of their purchases over price.
    Amazon Prime is the perfect example of getting maximum value for money. With its large portfolio and product range, customers can have access to a variety of goods without worrying about any additional charges or compromising on customer service – delivering an all-inclusive customer experience that strives for convenience and satisfaction alike.
    The unified service design thinking behind such offerings is essential in creating these experiences.
  10. Help me help others and the planet.
    Consumers are looking beyond the standard services, wanting to do good with their purchases. Supermarkets allow customers to ’round up’ when they shop and donate the extra change towards charitable causes; furniture stores will take care of removal or recycling sustainable disposal of old items; while retailers and delivery firms provide more fuel-efficient slots as an option for those who want a green choice.
    As these features become increasingly commonplace, it takes partnerships between brands along with strategic orchestration in order to deliver seamless customer experiences that meet growing expectations around sustainability.

In conclusion, the advancements in technology have resulted in a shift in consumers’ expectations, who now demand more from all services and organisations. To meet these changing expectations, it is essential to prioritise the ten fundamental elements of service design outlined above. By doing so, you can stay ahead of the competition and provide your customers with exceptional experiences that keep them coming back.

At Engine Service Design, we are dedicated to helping companies navigate these expectations and create meaningful connections with their customers through innovative and customer-centric service design solutions. We offer a range of services, including strategy, research, design, and implementation, to help companies create connected services and experiences that meet the evolving needs of consumers.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Engine Service Design can help you meet the changing expectations of consumers, click below to get in touch. We can help you start your journey towards creating connected services and experiences that truly make a difference.

To learn more about Connected Service Design, click here.

The 10 Principles for Designing People-Centred Workplace Experiences

As the world of work continues to shift and change, we need to design workplace experiences that reflect the new world order. With the Covid pandemic altering how, when, and where people now wish to work, companies who want to attract and retain the best talent must reassess their workplaces to create a people-centred experience.

The workforce and the workplace are changing

The rise of remote working has changed the workplace, literally and figuratively. These days workplaces must offer value to the people who either work in or visit them. In turn, these workplaces create value for the organisation itself. Workplaces are simultaneously value propositions that attract employees and customers and value-creating systems that add to the bottom line.

A workforce is not a fixed or static entity. It is a continually changing system of energies, talents, expectations, and life stories, and these all create value for an organisation. A workplace is not just a building and its facilities: it is more than the sum of its parts. A workplace is a system of cultural values, human interactions, and interdependent services loosely bound by physical premises.

The boundaries between the workforce and workplace and work and home are becoming increasingly porous as our daily experiences of work with everything else in our lives blend.

How does the workplace create value?

Value-creating propositions are made tangible not just through the physical architecture of a workplace and how it is laid out, but also through what happens in the building. A workplace is valuable for what it enables, the thinking it unlocks, the culture it inspires and supports: in other words, the experiences it creates.

How do you unlock value from your workplace with people-centred service design?

Firstly, you need to design your workplace value proposition. Once you have this, you can create a space that facilitates this proposition and the company culture, along with the services, personal development opportunities, and valuable experiences for the people within.

The 10 principles for designing people-centred workplace experiences

  1. Design a cultural destination for your company
    A workplace can express an organisation’s culture and values, which has become even more relevant as teams work remotely, with many viewing the office as their least productive workplace.
  2. View employees as guests whose stays you wish to extend
    Buildings are not just about the facilities available: it’s more about the experience. So, design a premium hospitality experience for your employees and visitors. Create a service culture for your frontline and back-office teams and set a clear vision for service, behaviours, employee services standards, and ‘signature’ service moments.
  3. Embody the positives in the lives and cultures of the people you employ
    It is essential for the culture and values of a company to be reflected in day-to-day workplace practices. For the same reasons, creating opportunities and experiences that reflect the lives and cultures of the people you employ can be just as necessary.
  4. Design workspaces as mixed-use ‘playgrounds’
    Less and less work happens at fixed workstations. Collaboration requires more than just meeting rooms with whiteboards. Home working has shown how small, ad-hoc conversations can be just as productive as large formal meetings and workshops, if not more so. People should be able to find a place to match their preferred modes of working.
  5. Provide social spaces and opportunities to connect, not just desks
    Design for your hybrid working policy and recognise that, for some, the workplace is no longer the most productive place to work. The office is more relevant as a social space to make meaningful connections and maintain personal working relationships and friendships.
  6. Create an architecture the company and its people can experiment within
    It may feel counter-intuitive, but ‘under designing’ a workplace will help ensure spaces are put together elegantly as new needs emerge. Focus on providing the people, skills, and a kit of parts (experimentation resources and support) that permit this.
  7. Design for the life stages of your workforce
    People need and expect different things from a workplace as they progress through their working life. People socialise and prioritise their time differently, so ensure this is reflected in your workplace experience.
  8. Use technologies that offer seamless, invisible interactions with the building and its services
    By focusing on software and services rather than tech hardware, tech-enabled services and experiences can be personalised and evolve. A workplace-services platform can be designed for resident and third-party services to operate within a premises.
  9. Design excellent eating and well-being services and experiences
    People eat and manage their time and well-being in many ways. The design of eating and well-being services and experiences should respond to this diversity and reflect people’s lives outside work.
  10. Design aspirational spaces and experiences that people feel privileged to be a part of
    Everyone sees work in their own individual way. While not everyone loves their job, we are all flattered and made to feel special when invited into high-quality, exciting, and exclusive settings. Such spaces encourage us to feel valued and supported, inspiring us to give more.

Here at Engine, we believe in the power of the service design process. Well-designed, people-centred workplace experiences are necessary for a positive employee experience and the future growth of forward-thinking companies. Designing around these 10 principles will help you get your workspaces right.

We would love to share our expertise with you, so why not get in touch? We can help you create a people-centred workplace experience that will make a difference.

Why I love service design and why you might too

We discover why Joe Heapy, co-founder and managing partner of Engine Service Design, still finds service design so exciting – and why it might also be the career for you.

Most industries these days understand the impact that good service design can have. The value of well-designed services over poorly-designed ones is something we can all appreciate. So, what is so interesting about service design, and what makes it such a great career choice?

What is service design?

Bridging the worlds of business and design, service design makes services more accessible, useful, and easy to use. This gives customers a better experience and ultimately leads to greater profitability. Joe describes it as:

“Techno geekery… a way of thinking about stuff, it’s creative and analytical and geeky at the same time. It’s not just about drawing up customer journey maps”.

Services and design have evolved over the years

With the rapid growth of consumerism in the period following the Second World War came an increased demand for product innovation. The role of design suddenly became more than just decorative or an afterthought: it became an increasingly important way to sell more goods. Leading on from goods themselves, in the 1980s marketers began to see services and experiences as commercial assets that could be designed.

“When I started working as Service Designer it was still very difficult to explain what we were trying to do and the value we could bring by applying design ‘thinking and doing’ to services and business. Design was still very much the ‘thing you did at the end’ to make things look nice”

As websites became an integral part of business it created demand for web design. Many businesses found that product and price parity meant customer experience was the new competitive battleground. Consumer expectations were changing at the same time and so website and digital products became essential and designable commercial assets. Service design became a practical way for businesses to create value.

Service design is for and by curious people

“Engine began with the broadest of goals, to see where we could go with design, the toolkit and mindset. Service design is a great career for curious people, those that like to take things apart to find out how they work (me as a boy)”

First and foremost, service design is people-centred.

“People first, tech second. Tech as the enabler”.

That said, it is incredible to think about what the newest technologies can enable. New web technologies let systems talk to each other, and smartphones provide an interface between people, software, and the physical world, and data and machine learning manifest seemingly magical interactions with technology.

“I love the process of understanding a new technology or software solution and then trying to make connections between the features of one solution and another. What if that could talk to that? What if we could take that solution and apply the same idea here?”

People working at the frontline of a service are the experts service designers love to speak to: retail workers, contact centre workers, teachers, nurses, prison officers, social workers and those managing these teams. And data scientists. Service designers weave together the needs of humans and the capabilities of technology to design the best service possible.

Big pictures and tiny details

The big picture can influence the tiniest detail of the solution

Responding to environmental concerns, many independent coffee shops no longer provide paper cups for takeaway coffee: you either drink in or buy or use your reusable cup. This must be carefully managed as it affects the customer experience. Indeed, some customers will be politely turned away.

In the same way, when economies shift and regulations change, financial services companies modify their rates and rules. This impacts how financial services are bought. The small changes to websites and telephone conversations need to be made carefully and designed with reference to the customer experience.

The tiniest detail of the solution impacts the big picture

Small details relating to user experiences can impact the effectiveness of a service and, in turn, some larger social outcomes. Things like the placement of buttons on a webpage, the design of an online form, or the ability of a frontline worker to understand and communicate effectively with a service user can have a huge impact.

For example, the design of an interface or conversation may lead to someone taking medical insurance (or not) or qualifying for medical screening (or not).

“Service design is a hybrid practice… an assembly of the shiniest bits of the user-centred design method, strategic marketing, brand development, new product development, business analysis, social science research methods, software development, product management, people development, change management, visual and information design, and story theory, as well as many other trinkets.”

This makes the practices accessible outside of design, and it can respond to tangible challenges within businesses. The service-design community is getting much better at communicating to businesses the value of well-designed services over poorly designed ones.

Service design is not your average desk job

“Service design puts designers into interesting places doing useful things.”

Engine Service Design has been behind the scenes in airports and other large infrastructure projects, in retail, hospitality, and health settings, a prison, and a cathedral. Even a project looking into public toilets as a service. Engine has looked at energy-as-a-service, data-as-a-service and pricing-as-a-service as large organisations apply service-design methods to their internal capabilities and processes.

“We’ve been able to apply our skills and expertise and those qualities of curiosity and big picture, small detail to so many different design contexts and challenges. And with increasing relevance to strategy as well as to the experience for service users.”

In 2004 Engine was invited to join a new programme at the UK Design Council to promote the role of design in the public sector and formally experiment by attaching art-school-trained designers to the design of public services.

“When we began, service design wasn’t a thing, and there was no invitation to design-school-trained people like us. The fun and interesting work we wanted to do was exclusive to those with vocational, professional, or technical training, not a liberal arts one.”

Today, many public services and government organisations in the UK and elsewhere employ people as service designers. This makes being a service-design designer even more exciting. It’s now a transferable skill.

So, if you think you have an interest in, and the skills for, a career in service design, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch and join our team!


Discover more about Connected service design – The art of a fully-connected service.


Connected service design – The art of a fully-connected service

There is a disconnect between how companies focus on and measure individual touchpoints in the customer journey and the way customers themselves experience and react to this journey. And at a time when the customer experience (CX) has become well established as the competitive battleground for many businesses, ignoring this could be fatal.

The disconnect between the company and the customer

Most organisations will design (or redesign) specific elements they have identified as needing improvement, such as their online checkout process. They might test and retest a lead-generation marketing campaign to finetune it before it goes fully live. The customer, however, sees each process as a part of a whole. They see their end goal and everything else as just another step towards what it will take to achieve their desired aim.

Customers expect a frictionless journey, with each interaction seamlessly moving them forwards. So, companies focusing on individual elements while failing to take total customer experience into account can seriously harm their efforts to increase customer satisfaction and revenue.

The customer journey is a holistic experience

Customers take various paths through an organisation’s service, using different touchpoints at different times. They do not want obstacles along this path. Without taking a step back to view your customers’ interactions with your business as a whole, it becomes more and more difficult to meet expectations.

This is particularly true when you add brand marketing, which promotes and makes promises about your business you need to keep. It doesn’t matter how great your e-commerce site is if your frontline team is unhelpful, or your fulfilment partners don’t understand what you are trying to achieve. Any disparity between the promises and the experience will negatively impact customers’ perceptions of your brand.

The challenge is in developing the capabilities that enable you to create and operate a fully-connected-service experience. Read on!

What is a fully-connected-service experience?

A fully-connected-service experience should mean that:

  • Every part of the service experience is a great expression of your brand.
  • The service will still provide the best possible experience even when things don’t go to plan.

A fully-connected service experience:

  • Needs every touchpoint in every channel, including those delivered by service partners, to be optimised to deliver your customer value proposition
  • Should allow customers to complete their tasks and achieve their goals, or quickly reach a way to do so, however they interact with your business. (This doesn’t mean that every touchpoint needs to be equipped to serve any purpose, however).
  • Should be enabled by integrated IT systems and shared data (within the relevant parameters)

Great interactions are key. Your customers should not have to make the effort to compensate for your disjointed systems.


The benefits of achieving and operating a fully-connected service

  1. Increased sales
    These days consumers expect to buy immediately. If an item in your physical store is not in stock, it should be possible to order it to collect or be delivered in a few simple steps. Otherwise, your customers will go elsewhere.
  1. Reduced development costs
    The more the touchpoints are consistent, the easier a system is to develop and maintain. There is also less for colleagues and customers to understand, learn, or relearn. For example, a restaurant business has an integrated management platform providing a single menu and ordering process across customer, kiosk, and colleague devices linked to the kitchen and inventory management.
  1. Fewer drop-outs and customer support tasks
    If a customer books an appointment, it shouldn’t surprise the frontline staff when they turn up. Equally, customers do not expect to have to log in at multiple points across the same business. Customers get fed up, give up, and go elsewhere.
  1. Better data to drive improvements
    Businesses tend to measure performance at the individual touchpoint or interaction level, which is generally operational and commercial, rather than experiential. By looking at a fully-connected service organised around your customers, you can more easily adopt a holistic measurement approach and make more meaningful improvements.


What are the main challenges experienced when creating a fully-connected service?

  • Too much focus on selling a product and not enough on the product itself.
  • There’s no senior manager, such as a Customer Experience Officer, responsible for its creation.
  • Siloed IT teams with digital teams focusing on individual business unit requirements with no time or remit to look at the customer experience holistically or strategically.
  • No cross-functional view of the experience or roadmap so employees tend to work on individual components with no concept of the whole picture.
  • Lack of services led by or designed for the wider business ecosystem of the service.
  • Budgets are allocated by individual business units or channels, making initiating work on a joined-up experience difficult.
  • No properly defined or explained fully-connected-service concept, making it difficult for teams to gather the enthusiasm to work on it properly.


Here at Engine Service Design, we understand the challenges and will work with you to help design and implement fully-connected services to serve your customers better, grow engagement and drive new business. We are ready to help you reimagine the future and unlock new value. Please Get in Touch if you need a trusted partner with whom to discuss your challenges: one of our service design experts will be delighted to help.

Discover why Joe Heapy, co-founder and managing partner of Engine Service Design, still finds service design so exciting – and why it might also be the career for you.


What is Service Design and why?

Service design is a creative and collaborative practice that determines precisely how an existing service should be improved or how a new technology or product should be delivered as a service, commercially and at scale.

Services are the formalised means by which people exchange things of value with one another, with businesses and other organisations. In other words, to live in our modern societies is to be a consumer and producer of services. There’s no getting away from them.

Design is the formalised activity of improving something in the world or giving form to new technology for the very first time, making it useful and usable. More fundamentally, the activity of designing has the potential to create new value, value for customers, businesses and society.

Service Design marries these two crucial human endeavours into a practice that today is driving economic growth, social innovation and policy-making around the world.

What is Service Design?

A creative and collaborative practise that determines precisely how an existing service should be improved or how a new technology or product should be delivered as a service, commercially and at scale.

Where did service design come from?

The idea that mass-produced services can be designed through a formal engineering-like approach was described in the 1980s. Art-school educated design with a big ‘D’ made the jump to the world of mass-produced services at the end of the 1990s, fueled mostly by the emergence of the ‘world wide web’. In the twenty or so years since, Service Design has evolved from a niche practice within strategic marketing, IT and interaction design into a mainstream product development and management practice in many global, customer-driven businesses.

The brilliance of service design is rooted in its essential eclecticism and fuzzy, interdisciplinary boundaries.
Like the Magpie in European folklore, Service Design has stolen all the best and shiniest bits from several professional domains and woven them into a hybrid practice.

Engine’s practise, like others, is an assembly of the shiniest bits of the user-centred design method, strategic marketing, brand development, new product development, business analysis, social science research methods, software development, product management, people development, change management, visual and information design and story theory, as well as many other trinkets.

The masterstroke is that as a hybrid practise, service design is accessible to all and as such powerful and well-suited to the kinds of creative, empathetic, optimistic and collaborative work that must take place at pace in response to urgent business and social challenges. Such challenges require all the available experts. Diverse perspectives are vital, as are the abilities firstly to listen, to empathise, understand and to connect the best of the best insights and ideas to give form to new solutions.

What is a service blueprint?

It’s essential to be able to represent the workings of a service and people’s experiences of it on a page. Easier said than done, given that a service is not a ‘thing’, it unfolds over time and is co-produced by its users. There are several ways to represent on a page an approximation to a service. The one most loved by service designers, and their clients is the service blueprint.

Service blueprints were presented in an article in Harvard Business Review in 1984 by the businesswomen and now philanthropist, Lynn Shostack. Shostack’s father was a mechanical engineer, and Lynn went to art school (perhaps, the perfect ingredients for a service designer) before eventually becoming a marketing consultant.

A service blueprint isn’t just a beautiful spreadsheet or flow diagram (nor should it be). It captures the idea that providing a service involves several parts of an organisation working together (or not). The ways the organisation does this results in an excellent or poor experience for customers, and those delivering the service. For some businesses, seeing their service for the first time in this way leads them to reorganise teams and realign priorities — powerful stuff.

There’s a challenge for leaders in complex organisations where many teams are working to do the right things for customers. Because the service blueprint represents the service, it represents the organisation too. It sets out the territory for action — a giant, organisation-wide to-do list on one page with each team able to see the role they play.

Service blueprints become vital management documents, delignating roles, defining blocks of work and their priority.

Service designing the front and backstage

Central to the way service blueprints represent a service is their depiction of what’s happening behind the scenes when customers use a service. Service blueprints are to service designers what musical scores are to musicians — the technical drawing for a performance and an emotional experience for those on the receiving end. (Take a look at forms of dance notation.)

‘Total design’ and ITIL (geekery)

In 1991 the engineer, Bill Hollins, wrote the book, ‘Total design: managing the design process in the service sector’. In the book, Bill describes the difference between a product-centred design process and a service-orientated one. He describes services and service businesses as having multiple components and sub-systems that need to be designed as one to work well — and that doing so requires its own, clearly understood design process. Bill remains close to our hearts at Engine as he tutored two of Engine’s Directors, and we continue to define service design in one sense as ‘total design’.

The service design process is suited to the design of systems of people and technology working together to produce excellent outcomes. Technology is central to all services but is only a means to end. Well-designed services weave technology together with physical places, objects and people into a harmonious system to create value.

That the roots of service design extend in one direction into engineering isn’t a surprise. The mass-production of services requires engineering solutions as well as amazing sensory and aesthetic choices. The idea that services are engineered was made geekishly real by the creation (again in the 1980s) of ITIL (the Information Technology Infrastructure Library).

ITIL, developed for the UK government, helped standardise IT management practices, the practices underpinning the design and performance of government services. ITIL defines services as the product or organisations and has four ‘Ps’, People, Products, Partners, Processes. These ‘Ps’ remain to remind us what services are and what service designers ought to be able to apply design methods to.

What’s the difference between UX, CX, DX and Service Design?

User experience (UX) is a person’s direct experience of a digital or physical product, at the moment they are using it. The customer experience (CX) is a person’s experience of a service, business and brand, which might include their use of many products.

Yes, customer experience is an experience of a business, not just a product or touchpoint. Interestingly though, customers don’t need to be directly interacting with the service — in the moment — to be experiencing it. For example, a customer might be waiting for something to be delivered or installed in their home. Some elements of the customer’s experience are intangible, yet you can still design them.

So, UX design (UXD) is the design of how a person experiences a product, usually a digital one, directly in the moment. Customer experience design (CXD) is the design of how a customer experiences a service and business, overtime and even when they are not directly interacting with it.

Use DX to describe something more holistic than UX and encompassing customers’ experiences of the digital touchpoints of a service.

Service design (SD) encompasses all of the above and much more.

Why spend money on service design projects?

The goal of service designing is to make existing services easy to use, more accessible and more beneficial, more profitable to operate and in the case of public services, produce better outcomes for people and society. These seem straightforward enough. However, when making the case to invest in service design projects, the benefits need to be clear and quantifiable.

For most businesses, the reasons to commission a service design project — internally or externally — are the same as the reasons to invest money in any initiative that improves business performance by driving sales, improving margin, avoiding or reducing costs, or making costs more predictable.

Beneath the headliners, there are other great reasons to commission service design projects, particularly when businesses want to operate differently, automate processes, use data creatively, improve the experience for their employees, step-up to lead the business eco-system in which they operate — or to challenge their industry model.

So, what next for Service Design?

Up until the end of the last century, people associated ‘design’ with giving form to material things — manufactured goods and graphical objects. Then these objects became full of electronics their users could control, and the internet happened.

Today, designers are designing services — systems of things that create value for customers and businesses. Service Design evolved as a meta-discipline. It encompasses most other design disciplines and so much more. As such, it provides a way to bridge the worlds of design and business. Design leaked-out of design studios and art schools and into corporations. Design thinking and doing is out there in the world.

Being design-led is now an approach to management. In the maturest of design-led businesses, design teams are already dissolving into their organisations. The new challenge is how to get more trained designers on management boards, while building-in design capability across organisations.