Understanding Innovation And Design And How They Work Together

We see new products and services all the time. Some will leave us wondering what purpose they could possibly serve, others will stop us in our tracks. Creativity, curiosity, and the need to address a challenge or an opportunity are often the starting point for innovation. Design brings these things into being; the mix of innovation and design can lead to the creation of some wonderful things.

Innovation and design are intrinsically connected. One drives and informs the other, helping them to both continually evolve. Innovation – coming up with new ideas, methods, designs, products, and so on – helps improve our lives and experiences. Design is a key part of innovation, as it takes these new ideas and helps turn them into tangible, usable products, services, and experiences.

Design thinking and innovation

Design thinking is a user-centred, solution-based approach to challenges that emphasizes empathy, experimentation, and iteration to generate creative solutions to complex challenges. It is used widely to innovate and find new ideas and alternative perspectives.

The design thinking process can help teams find new opportunities and create new products, services, and experiences that are more impactful and effective. Design can drive innovation, and innovation can drive design. The two together are very powerful and mutually reinforcing.

Why should we pair innovation and design?

When new products and services are initially conceived in the ideation phase of the design thinking process, these ideas have to somehow get off the page and out into the world. This requires design. Whether it is a physical product, a service, or an experience, it will need to be designed in some form.

But first, you need the ideas. The ideation process encourages people to get creative. All ideas are welcomed, and none are too far-fetched. Diverse input can help broaden the net. However, to create something that is likely to work, designers will need to innovate and come up with feasible solutions.

Innovation can also drive design forward. New materials, technologies, and possibilities for design can be created in response to a need. For example, advances in digital technologies have opened up new avenues for designers to create interactive, immersive, and personalized experiences. And these will in turn create more opportunities for experiences to drive technology.

Both innovation and design are continually evolving to serve the other’s needs and purposes.

Why good design is important for innovation – and vice versa

  • Design can help solve problems: design thinking and other design approaches can help identify and solve complex problems in innovative ways. They offer a framework for creative problem-solving that emphasize empathy, experimentation, and iteration.
  • Design can improve user experience: innovative new products and services need to be useful, usable, and desirable for the end-user or they serve no purpose. New products and services that are impactful and successful will be designed around the user experience.
  • Design can communicate innovative ideas: there’s no point in having a great idea that you can’t articulate well enough to build support and secure investment. Design can communicate new ideas in clear and accessible ways. This could mean graphics, illustrations, and infographics, or physical and virtual prototypes. Using prototypes allows teams to quickly and inexpensively refine and test, leading to better and more impactful innovations.
  • Design can give you a competitive advantage: good design can set products, services, and systems apart from the competition. Innovative new offerings can be more attractive to customers.
  • Collaboration brings together diverse perspectives and skills: interdisciplinary approaches to design and innovation will help drive new and impactful solutions by drawing on the different strengths of various disciplines.

How do service design and innovation work together?

Service design focuses on creating an integrated and seamless experience for the customer. It looks at all the touchpoints and interactions that a customer has with a service and seeks to optimise them. This requires innovative solutions.

What is service design?

Service design is the process of designing and organizing people, infrastructure, communication, and any material components of a service to improve its interactions and quality. Service design doesn’t just look at the physical design of a product: it considers the entire customer journey, including the pre-service, service delivery, and post-service experience.

There are many methods and tools that the service design process can use, including ethnographic research, customer journey mapping, prototyping, and user testing. Its intention is to create user-centred, efficient, and effective services. These should meet the needs and expectations of both the service provider and the customer.

It can be used across sectors and either to improve existing services or design new ones.

How do service design and innovation work together?

Good service design centres on the needs of the customer. Really looking at what these are and how a company could serve these better can lead to innovative new ways of working. Likewise, streamlining and improving services can improve the customer experience and make them more efficient and cost-effective for the service provider.

Where can service design innovate?

  • Customer-centred solutions: service design methods emphasize the importance of understanding and addressing the needs and expectations of customers. Researching, mapping, and prototyping new services based on their needs and experiences can lead to innovative new ways of working. Innovative products, services, or systems need to be useful, usable, and desirable for their intended audience.
  • New service offerings: creating new service offerings can lead to innovative sources of revenue and give companies a competitive advantage.
  • Better service delivery: service design can help find inefficiencies and pain points in existing service delivery processes.
  • Better customer experiences: innovative ways of creating seamless, integrated customer experiences can lead to happier customers and higher retention rates.
  • Better internal collaboration: service design looks at processes holistically and often requires collaboration between various parts of a company. This can lead to greater engagement and improves teamwork. It will also help companies ensure their innovations are grounded in a wide range of perspectives and expertise.

Using service design to innovate in your business

Here at Engine Service Design, we can help you reimagine the future by improving employee and customer experiences. We work with you to understand where the challenges are and help you design and implement innovative services to serve your customers better, grow engagement and drive new business. Please get in touch if you need a trusted partner with whom to discuss where you can design and innovate: one of our service design experts will be delighted to help.

How to create the right customer experience strategy for your organisation

In today’s competitive business landscape, it’s no longer enough to simply offer a product or service – you need to create a memorable customer experience that sets you apart from the rest. This is where a customer experience (CX) strategy comes into play.

A well-defined CX strategy can help you build customer loyalty, increase revenue, and boost brand awareness. In fact, recent research indicates that 61% of consumers are willing to pay more if they know they’ll get a good customer experience and, what’s more, CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty – that’s more than brand and price combined!

So, it’s clear that a well-defined CX strategy is worth the effort. But, with something as holistic as customer experience, where do you get started?

In this blog post, we’ll explain how to create the right CX strategy for your organisation by focusing on your CX vision, defining your customer personas, identifying key touchpoints, and setting CX goals.

Define Your CX Vision

Before you can create a CX strategy, it’s crucial to define your CX vision. Your CX vision is the overarching goal that guides your CX strategy. It should be specific, measurable, and achievable, and it should align with your overall business goals and reflect your brand values.

Defining your CX vision is important because it helps you to establish a clear direction for your CX strategy, and ensures that everyone in your organisation understands and works towards the same goal. Some examples include:

Exceptional service

According to a study by American Express, 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of poor service. What’s more, 50% of customers will switch to a competitor after just one bad experience. Therefore, if your CX vision is to provide exceptional service, you’ll need to ensure that every touchpoint with your customers is designed to meet and exceed their expectations. This might involve investing in training for your customer service team, improving your website’s usability, or offering personalised recommendations to customers.

Personalised customer experiences

Another example of a CX vision is creating personalised experiences. Research by Epsilon indicates that 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences. So, if your CX vision is to create personalised experiences, you’ll need to focus on understanding your customers’ needs and preferences. This might involve collecting data about your customers’ buying habits, creating customer personas, or using artificial intelligence to offer personalised recommendations.

Define Your Target Customer

Once you have identified your CX vision, you need to understand your target customer. This is the person who is most likely to buy from you, and who you want to attract and retain.

One way to define your target customer is to create a customer persona – a fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on data and research. It includes information about their age, gender, income, interests, and buying habits. By creating a customer persona, you can better understand your target customer’s needs, preferences, and pain points, and tailor your CX strategy to meet their specific requirements.

To get started, you’ll need to gather data about your existing customers and conduct research to identify patterns and trends. We recommend taking the following steps:

  • Conduct customer research: Conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather data about your existing customers. Ask questions about their demographics, interests, and buying habits.
  • Identify patterns and trends: Analyse the data you have collected to identify patterns and trends. Look for commonalities in your customers’ demographics, interests, and buying habits.
  • Create customer segments: Use the patterns and trends you have identified to create customer segments. These segments should represent different groups of customers who share similar characteristics. For example, we created our Pandemic Personas Pack in 2021, which outlines 11 different personas based on customer needs and attitudes when dealing with the pandemic. Some examples are below::
    • THE EMERGER: Having sheltered or lived extremely cautiously for almost a year, The Emerger, now vaccinated, is engaging in everyday activities with more confidence and is enjoying experiences they have abstained from or been denied.
    • THE INDEPENDENT: Whilst aware of the guidelines, The Independent manages the risk of catching or transmitting COVID on a case-by-case basis relying upon their judgement and experience to stay safe.
    • THE INVINCIBLE: Having recovered from COVID and now immune, The Invincible operates with complete freedom and enjoys experiences that others are not yet comfortable doing.

Identify Key Touchpoints

Now you’ve defined your target customer, you need to identify the key touchpoints where your customer interacts with your brand. Touchpoints are any point of contact between your customer and your brand, such as your website, store, product, or customer service. Identifying these interactions will help you understand how your customer experiences your brand, and where you can make improvements to enhance their experience.

To identify key touchpoints, start by mapping out the customer journey using an online tool like Miro or Whimsical; this is the path that your customer takes from initial contact with your brand to purchase and beyond, and includes all touchpoints that the customer interacts with along the way.

For example, if you are a retail store, your key touchpoints might include your website, your store location, your product displays, and your customer service. It’s important to approach the process objectively and from the customer’s perspective, so make sure to use data you have collected from your customers in surveys and from interactions you’ve had with them to identify where to focus.

By mapping out the customer journey and prioritising key touchpoints, you can gain a clearer understanding of the overall customer experience and identify areas for improvement. Once you have identified these areas, you can make targeted changes to enhance the customer experience and ultimately drive business growth.

Set CX Goals

Next, it’s time to set CX goals. Start by reviewing your CX vision, target customer, and key touchpoints, and identify areas where you can make improvements to enhance the customer experience.

Then, set specific goals for each area of improvement. For example, if you have identified website usability as an area for improvement, a specific goal might be to reduce website bounce rates by 10% within the next six months.

It’s important to make sure that your goals are measurable. This will help you to track your progress and measure the effectiveness of your CX strategy. For example, you might measure website bounce rates using Google Analytics.

Your goals should also be achievable within the resources and capabilities of your organisation – make sure to set realistic timelines and allocate resources accordingly.

By setting specific, measurable, and achievable CX goals that align with your CX vision and reflect your target customer’s needs and expectations, you can create a CX strategy that delivers a memorable customer experience and sets you apart from the competition.

Develop Your CX Strategy

Once you’ve defined your CX vision, target customer, key touchpoints, and CX goals, it’s time to develop your CX strategy.

To create the right CX strategy for your organisation, you need to identify the memorable moments that your customers will associate with your brand. These moments can be the result of exceptional customer service, personalised interactions, or unique experiences that stand out from the competition.

Once you’ve identified these memorable moments, you can then work on delivering them consistently across all touchpoints. Your CX strategy should detail how you plan to create these signature experiences and when and where you will deliver them. This could involve developing a comprehensive training program for your employees, implementing new technology or tools to enhance the customer experience, or investing in customer feedback mechanisms to continuously improve your CX strategy.

Ultimately, creating a successful CX strategy requires a customer-centric approach that puts your customers at the centre of everything you do. By prioritising their needs and expectations, you can build a strong brand reputation, drive customer loyalty, and ultimately achieve your CX goals.

At Engine Service Design, we help organisations across a range of industries design remarkable services and experiences their customers will love.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Engine Service Design can help you create the right CX strategy for your organisation, click below to get in touch. We’d love to chat with you about how we can help you create consistent, personalised customer experiences that truly make a difference.

What Is Customer Experience And Why Is It Important?

In today’s competitive market, and as a result of changing consumer expectations, it is not enough to simply provide a product or service; businesses must also ensure that their customers have a positive experience when interacting with them. But what does a positive customer experience mean, and why does it matter? In this blog, we’ll discuss what customer experience is, how it differs from customer service, and how it can impact a business’s bottom line.

What is Customer Experience?

Before we dive into the definition of ‘customer experience’, it is important to first understand the meaning of ‘customer service’. There is often confusion surrounding these terms, as they are frequently used interchangeably. Although they are related, they are distinct concepts.

Customer service refers to the specific interactions between a customer and a company’s representatives, typically during a transaction or when a customer has a query or problem. It can include the quality and speed of the support provided, the helpfulness of the representative, and the overall resolution of the issue.

On the other hand, while customer service is limited to transactions and queries, customer experience takes a holistic approach to understand a customer’s journey; it encompasses every interaction a customer has with a company’s products and services.

For example, if a customer orders a product online, their experience starts with the search or advertisement, continues through the process of choosing and buying the item, includes follow-up information, tracking and waiting for delivery, and ends with unpacking and disposing of packaging. While customer service may only be required when a customer has a problem, the overall experience shapes their perception of the brand.

In short, customer experience is the sum of every experience a customer has with a company’s products and services, and it greatly influences their beliefs about the brand.

Why is Customer Experience Important?

Customer experience is crucial to the success of any business, regardless of its size or industry.

A positive customer experience can lead to customer loyalty, increased revenue, and even brand advocacy. On the other hand, a negative customer experience can result in lost customers, damage to a company’s reputation, and ultimately, decreased revenue.

In today’s digital age, where customers have access to an abundance of information and numerous options for products and services, businesses must differentiate themselves by providing exceptional customer experiences. A great customer experience can set a business apart from its competitors and create a lasting impression that can drive customer retention and growth.

The Customer Experience Palette

Look at what we call ‘The Customer Experience Palette’ below. You’ll have spotted that customer service is just one of the headings and one aspect of the total customer experience. Customer experience is the combination of each of these aspects; they combine to form a perception of your business that drives their purchase decision.

Each section of the palette suggests qualities and principles that businesses can apply to their services to create a cohesive and positive experience for customers.

However, the challenge for businesses is that control of these aspects often sits with different parts of the organisation, creating fragmentation and inconsistency. As companies grow, the different interpretations and priorities of various functions can drive disjointedness, which can negatively impact the customer experience. Therefore, businesses need to have a holistic approach to customer experience, ensuring that all aspects work together to create a positive perception of the brand.

Let’s look at two examples to illustrate how customer service and customer experience are perceived differently by different types of businesses.

For organisations that offer clearly defined products, customer service has historically been synonymous with customer experience. Customer Operations teams focus on managing inbound enquiries and resolving customer issues, typically using people and artificial intelligence systems. Product features and benefits are viewed as the main drivers of growth, and product support is seen as a necessary but secondary aspect of the business. Other parts of the organisation may not have a clear role in shaping customer perceptions.

On the other hand, for businesses offering less tangible products, such as mobile phone operators, marketing is the driving force. They invest in building their brand and advertising to emotionally connect with consumers, as product benefits are often indistinct or hard to understand. These businesses focus on the customer value proposition, with service promoted as a key point of difference for the brand. However, the actual service customers receive may not match the expectations set by marketing.

Designing and delivering a great service and experience is not just a matter of imagination but also an organisational challenge. Each area of the business needs to play a part in creating a cohesive and positive customer experience. However, many organisations are not organised or equipped to work together on the ‘total experience’, leading to inconsistencies and disjointedness.

The table below outlines which functions within a business typically take responsibility for each aspect of the total customer experience.

In our experience, when a CEO sets a focus on the customer, and budgets follow, each area of the business will seek to take ownership of the customer and their experience, adopting some aspect of the service and experience as their focus.

The challenge, however, is that the CEO’s direction is often not accompanied by changes in approach, permission to work differently, incentives, and skills. As a result, different parts of the business may end up competing for ownership of the customer experience, rather than collaborating to deliver the best possible total experience.

Therefore, to ensure a cohesive and positive customer experience, businesses need to empower each area to take ownership of the customer and work together towards a common goal, breaking down silos and promoting collaboration across the organisation.


Total Customer Experience Palette
Service Performance Service Usability Customer Service Emotional Fulfilment Brand Presence Product Benefits
Things your customers think about when they’re evaluating their experience and re-checking their perception of your brand.
Areas of a business that adopt aspects of the Total Experience as their focus and as their way to take ownership of the customer.
  • IT
  • Operations
  • Process Excellence People
  • Product Managers
  • Digital design
  • Retail design
  • Legal and compliance people
  • Customer Operations
  • HR roles
  • IT
  • Process Excellence People
  • Product Managers
  • Customer Experience people
  • Brand people
  • Customer Experience people
  • Strategic Marketing
  • Commercial people
  • Technologists


Great customer experience is no accident

So, which businesses manage to do all of this well and importantly, bring it all together well? This is a tricky question as we all like different brands, but let’s take the British airline, Virgin Atlantic:


Total Customer Experience Palette – Virgin Atlantic
Service Performance Service Usability Customer Service Emotional Fulfilment Brand Presence Product Benefits
  • Ranked 33 out of 100 for overall service in 2017
  • In the Top 20 safest airlines again in 2017
Virgin Atlantic was one of the first major airlines to introduce self-service check-in at London’s Heathrow Airport. This coincided with the launch of the Upper Class ‘Limo to Lounge’ proposition at Heathrow which made it effortless for Upper-Class passengers to drive up to the terminal from their pre-booked limo and pass directly through a dedicated security lane and onto the Upper-Class lounge. 
  • Awarded best European airline for long-haul flights in 2017 and 2018
4th best business lounge in 2016, which is a testament to how Virgin Atlantic responded in ways only they could to the need business people have to feel pampered and rewarded by their employer 7th business Superbrand. The Virgin Group and Virgin Atlantic brands have appeared in the UK CoolBrands survey several times in the last 10 years. They invest heavily in very well-produced advertising which expresses their fun and entertainingly provocative personality, often satirising their own brand image while portraying the glamour of flying. They have a unique style.  It’s not always clear how these are distinct from others and it’s fair to say that other airlines have caught up with a standard of service set by Virgin Atlantic and other long-haul airlines in the 1980s and 1990s. Virgin has always been known for its people and for using designers to great effect to create bold and original passenger lounges and aircraft interiors. They innovated in other areas too, for example, using an area of their Upper-Class cabin to provide massages to passengers. 


No service is perfect and there are plenty of poor reviews to be found online. But as a business, Virgin Atlantic has always really understood the difference between ‘customer service’, which is essential for any airline, and designing the ‘total customer experience’. (Sources: Skytrax World Airline Awards 2017. The Airlines Ratings Website. UK Superbrands Survey, 2017. UK Coolbrands Survey, 2001-2017).

Improving Customer Experience

Improving customer experience can seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategies and approach, it is achievable. As outlined in this blog, the key is for businesses to break down silos between departments and work together towards a common goal. This collaborative effort enables each area of the business to take joint ownership of the customer experience, promoting a positive perception of the brand. By prioritising customer experience and promoting collaboration across the organisation, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors and build a loyal customer base.

At Engine Service Design, we understand the importance of providing an exceptional customer experience across all touchpoints. Honed over 20 years and applied to a range of sectors, our Service Design System helps organisations create remarkable service experiences 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 connected customer experiences, we’d love to chat with you. Click below to book a meeting with one of our service design experts.

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.

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The importance of adapting service experiences to rapidly-changing customer needs

With the pandemic forcing companies to adapt rapidly throughout to offer products and services remotely, the landscape has changed. Organisations who managed to swiftly take their offerings online were rewarded for their quick response when we all discovered COVID-19 would have much longer-term implications than we could have imagined.

As we come out the other side attitudes are different as well as businesses. Customers no longer compare services within the same industries. Instead, their experiences in one industry can influence their expectations of others. After all, if you are buying online, it’s the online experience you are comparing. And this is not dictated by sector.

Customer expectations have changed

Niraj Ranjan, CEO of Hiver, writing in Forbes about changing customer expectations says, “it’s not enough if you have a great product or offer discounts. The way you interact with your customers and fix their issues will determine whether they stay with your brand or jump ship”. Knowing and anticipating your customers’ needs so you can give them an exceptional, seamless experience is key.

This is backed up by the 2022 Salesforce Report, which found that “88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services — the highest it’s ever been”.

How customer expectations have changed

  • Customers expect connected, frictionless experiences
  • Customers expectations have shifted towards experiences being personalised
  • Customers expect accelerated digital offerings
  • Customers want their data to be kept secure

How do you adapt and transform customer experiences?

Transforming service experiences is easier said than done. Over the past year or so many organisations have added more and more systems, applications, and services while attempting to meet demand. Trying to tie together all these elements in a seamless way often requires far more effort from staff to deliver. It oftens starts to show as a ‘clunky’ customer experience. And it’s not helpful for employees either.

A 2022 connectivity study found that “55%” of organizations said they find it difficult to integrate user experiences. This is up from 48% a year ago”. The more there is to integrate and the longer you leave it, the harder it becomes.

Why is a seamless experience so important?

A seamless digital experience on one channel is of limited value if the other channels your customers engage on are not aligned or integrated. All the good you do on one platform will be undone in another and the overall experience will be seen as lacking. Without a clear vision and view of the existing experience and operations it is impossible to strategically align systems and processes. It is essential to deliver a seamless experience across both physical and digital channels.

Integrating experiences has direct business benefits as well. The connectivity study also notes that, “of the organizations that have integrated user experiences, more than half said it had enhanced visibility into operations (54%) and increased customer engagement (54%)”.

How can businesses adapt their services at pace without compromising experiences?

Companies need to take a strategic approach, starting with a holistic view of the business. By designing aligned services and experiences that span the entire business, organisations can adapt more swiftly without having to start again from the beginning each time something changes. A clear vision can steer transformative change across the scope of the business.

It’s no longer good enough to be better than your immediate competition in your sector. You need to be as good as the best in all sectors because that’s how your customers will be judging you.

Let Engine Service Design help you

Here at Engine Service Design, we understand the challenges that businesses are facing in this rapidly-changing world. We can help you discover, design, and implement fully-connected services to give your customers the seamless, integrated services they require.

We can 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.

Customer Driven Transformation

How design-led companies get more of the right services to market faster

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With this book, the authors show you how to instil an outside-in approach to strategy; moving away from a management approach that’s technology, marketing or resource optimization-led, to one that is customer-inspired and experimental with innovation.

    The rise of the Chief Experience Officer

    Considered “unconventional” in the early 2000s, the Chief Experience Officer (CXO), or the Chief Customer/Client Officer (CCO), are relatively new positions at a senior executive level. They were originally only considered relevant to customer-centric companies. However, in this post-COVID world, where the customer experience is the main differentiator, companies ignore this important position at their peril. Indeed, the Harvard Business Review argues that all companies should have a Chief Experience Officer.

    While Chief Experience Officer describes the job of ensuring that customers’ needs are met, the title belies the bigger picture, including the importance of the employee experience that Chief Experience Officers should consider under their remit. Gartner’s 2019 Customer Experience Management Survey illustrated the growing trend, revealing that in 2017, more than 35% of organizations had neither a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) or Chief Customer Officer (CCO) or equivalents. By 2019, only around 10% of companies lacked one or the other.

    Why do companies need a CXO?

    We no longer live in a service economy. These days the world operates around experiences and the so-called experience economy is its successor. We already know the main differentiator between companies is the experience customers get. To attract, convert, and retain customers companies need to get their customer experience right first time. And they need to be able to adapt and grow in response to change.

    Experience is not just about marketing, although there is overlap. The customer experience officer overlooks the entire customer journey, including people, places, and technology and how they interact with each other. They should ensure the company is providing seamless, personalised, low-friction experiences.

    How does the CXO create and maintain exceptional customer experience?

    A good customer experience begins with good design. By approaching a company holistically, rather than looking solely at current customer touchpoints it becomes much easier to work out how and where to make improvements. 

    For example, automation and digitisation can help deal with simple or common issues more quickly and effectively. They can help save money and improve the customer experience while providing useful data. However, those parts of the process that should be automated or digitised will depend on a company’s products, services, and processes.

    Customers are looking for personalised experiences, so it is vital to understand the full customer journey. And any direct contact with employees will be key to a customer’s experience

    How does service design help with the customer experience?

    Service design —a creative, collaborative process— can determine how an existing service can be improved or how new technologies, products, or services can be best offered to customers. It can be used to design the best experience possible based on the way the company’s processes are already set up or can be used to identify where changes can be made to optimise the entire process.

    A great customer experience needs designing based on the right information. Given the complex nature of customer and employee experiences and how they are intricately bound up in company and industry legacies, practices, procedures, no two companies’ customer journeys will look the same. Companies that provide the best CX have purposefully designed it to help them attract and retain loyal customers.

    If you or your Chief Experience Officer would like any information on service design and how Engine Service Design can help you deliver a better customer experience, please book an appointment with a service design expert below.

    Five top UK companies for employee experience in 2022

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit no one could have anticipated that the changes in working practice it led to would have such a lasting impact. Many people took the opportunity to reassess what they wanted in life. The way companies responded to the pandemic and behaved both during it and afterwards was critical for the employee experience.

    Why does employee experience matter?

    Work-life balance has become a focus. Providing an exceptional employee experience is now an essential element for companies who wish to attract and retain the best personnel. People spend a huge proportion of their lives at work. Employees are no longer prepared to accept that they are stuck with spending their working lives being poorly paid or badly treated.

    Companies with a positive employee experience can expect to increase productivity, improve their retention rates, and enhance their brand reputation. Happy, engaged employees are more productive: an Oxford University study found that “workers are 13% more productive when happy”. And customer experience is closely aligned with employee experience. Unhappy workers will not project a positive image to the outside world, resulting in a poor customer experience.

    With the well-documented “Great Resignation”, companies are also finding that an exceptional employee experience is one of the key ways to attract and retain talent. Our series of blogs on the employee experience, including the factors that have the greatest impact on it, goes into the subject in greater depth.

    What helped provide an exceptional employee experience?

    The way in which companies responded to the pandemic and communicated with employees, as well as remuneration, and management should all be taken into consideration. Five companies stand out across the board.

    Five top UK companies for employee experience in 2022:

    • Cisco – Cisco invests in its employees. Management is transparent and they exhibit trust in their workers. Employees feel that Cisco also gives back to the community.
    • Salesforce – Salesforce employees view the company as authentic. Its mission, purpose, and values are reflected in the way they behave. Personal wellbeing and growth are important values.
    • ServiceNow – ServiceNow is a friendly place to work with a great environment. Employees are trusted with responsibility and management is considered trustworthy.
    • Hilton – Hilton has committed to a more diverse workforce and offers great employee benefits that can be accessed as soon as an employee starts. They also have a transparent management culture that is not afraid to address difficult subjects like mental health and political problems.
    • Amazon – despite a reputation for not treating its employees well, it seems that Amazon have turned a corner. They are retaining talent having increased wages and invested large sums in education and skills-training initiatives.


    Before a company can design an exceptional employee experience, they need a clearly defined vison and purpose. And as we have already mentioned, companies who can align their customer and employee experience can expect to attract and retain the best people and keep their customers happier.

    Please contact us for more information on service design and how Engine Service Design can help you deliver a better employee experience. Hit the link below to book an appointment with a service design expert.