Bridging the gap: The synergy between digital product design and service design

Bridging the gap: The synergy between digital product design and service design Image
Home arrow Resources arrow Bridging the gap the synergy between digital product design and service design

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, organisations are continually striving to deliver exceptional digital products that cater to ever-evolving customer expectations. Product design has played a pivotal role in this endeavour, enabling the creation and implementation of practical and straightforward digital applications.

However, in the pursuit of product excellence, organisations can sometimes overlook the holistic customer journey, leading to disconnected experiences and unmet needs. Enter service design—a powerful approach that connects the dots and places the customer at the heart of every decision.

In this blog, we delve into the mechanics of service design and its remarkable applications in the realm of digital products. Discover how this customer-centric perspective can revolutionise your digital product strategy and create fully-connected experiences that leave a lasting impression.


Shifting Perspectives and The Rise of Digital Products

The original concept of service design envisioned a world where access took precedence over ownership. However, with the rise of smartphones and widespread connectivity, the focus shifted to digital products. This era saw the replacement of complex services with user-friendly digital products, prompting organisations to prioritise the development and delivery of innovative digital solutions to revamp their operations.

Product design has been a driving force behind transformative digital experiences, streamlining transactions to align with customer expectations. It grants organisations the freedom to adapt swiftly to market changes and fosters a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.

Yet, despite the success of product design, its limitations become apparent when products are viewed in isolation. This approach can result in digital silos and fragmented customer experiences. Organisations with a product-centric mindset may concentrate solely on their offerings, overlooking the complete customer journey and the importance of addressing human needs on a deeper level.

Bridging Digital Products with Services

This is where service design for digital products comes into play. By adopting a more holistic and customer-centric approach, service design can connect various products and services to ensure an optimised and seamless customer experience. It goes beyond tweaking and improving individual product aspects, instead focusing on the spaces between transactions and evolving with customer needs.

Service design begins with a fundamental question: How can I genuinely help my customer?

This approach involves delving deep into the digital product to understand how to deliver the best possible experience. It entails defining the entire tone and system that makes up the backend of a digital product, encompassing the behind-the-scenes mechanisms that enable the show to go on smoothly.

Key Customer-Facing Elements to Consider

In creating a remarkable digital product experience, service design plays a pivotal role by breaking down the design process into concrete elements that demand careful consideration. Key customer-facing elements include customer experiences, offboarding, and consistency.

To provide exceptional customer experiences, the foundation lies in upholding service principles, maintaining transparency, and ensuring customers fully comprehend the product’s capabilities. Expert guidance is incorporated to offer seamless onboarding, empowering customers to navigate the digital product effortlessly. Moreover, service design anticipates potential technical errors, enabling the preparation of practical solutions for swift service recovery, thereby addressing any potential customer dissatisfaction with efficiency.

Offboarding is another critical element carefully planned during service design. By crafting a meaningful and memorable farewell for departing customers, businesses can leave a lasting positive impression even as customers bid farewell.

Finally, consistency is paramount to the overall experience. Ensuring a high level of excellence at every interaction helps minimise repetition and unnecessary customer exertion. Streamlining interactions, eliminating duplicate data gathering, and optimising the timing and relevance of notifications all contribute to a smooth and seamless experience. By meticulously considering these key customer-facing elements, businesses can elevate their digital product experience to new heights, fostering strong customer relationships and loyalty.

Behind the Scenes: Systems, Partners and Back Office Tools

In addition to the customer-facing aspects, service design delves into the interactions behind the scenes and their seamless integration with the technology in use. A profound understanding of data and information flows is vital for continuous service improvement. This involves carefully considering the systems and back-office tools necessary to deliver a flawlessly interconnected experience, including implementing automation that enhances efficiency.

Moreover, forging connections with partners and integrating additional services are of utmost importance. Through service design research, organisations can pinpoint the most advantageous third-party integrations for customers, creating a comprehensive overview that encompasses the critical aspects of business, technology, and user experience within the product. This holistic approach ensures that all elements work in harmony, resulting in an unparalleled digital product experience.

Illustrative Applications in the Aviation Industry

A closer look at the aviation industry provides an excellent example of how service design can be applied. Imagine a scenario where a traveller is planning a trip and wants to book a flight using a digital platform. In this context, service design can play a vital role in connecting the digital product (the flight booking app) with physical services (such as airline staff and airport facilities) to enhance the overall travel experience. Let’s explore some examples…

  1. Seamless Digital-to-Physical Integration:
    Service design focuses on creating a seamless integration between digital products and physical services. For example, when a traveller books a flight through the app, service design can ensure that the boarding pass is easily accessible on their mobile device. This eliminates the need for paper tickets and streamlines the check-in process at the airport.

  2. Personalised Assistance and Guidance:
    Identifying who will assist customers when they need guidance using the app is essential for an optimised travel experience. Service design can facilitate real-time chat support within the app, connecting travellers with customer service representatives. This feature allows travellers to ask questions, resolve issues, and receive personalised assistance throughout their journey.

  3. In-Airport Navigation and Support:
    Service design can extend beyond the app to incorporate in-airport navigation and support. By integrating the app with beacon technology or location services, travellers can receive relevant information and directions based on their current location in the airport. This includes gate updates, boarding times, and nearby amenities, creating a smooth and stress-free experience.

  4. Post-Travel Feedback and Offboarding:
    After the trip, service design can include a feedback mechanism within the app to gather insights from travellers. This feedback loop helps improve the digital product and physical services, ensuring continuous enhancement based on customer input. Additionally, a thoughtful offboarding process within the app can provide travellers with relevant information, such as travel tips for their next destination or exclusive offers for future bookings, leaving them with a positive impression of the travel experience.


Combining the strengths of both product design and service design can lead to exceptional, connected digital product experiences. Organisations should encourage collaboration and learning between product designers and service designers to create a more integrated approach. By leveraging service design principles, teams can gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and behaviours, leading to products that resonate with users on a more profound level.

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.

By embracing service design principles, your business can unlock new opportunities, exceed customer expectations, and thrive in the digital age.

Book a meeting with one of our service design experts today and let us help you create digital products that truly resonate with your customers.


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