What is service design concepting and how is it valuable for organisations?

What is service design concepting and how is it valuable for organisations? Image
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This is the fourth in a series of 5 Blogs, where we explore 5 key tools in the Service Designers Toolkit – Customer Personas, Customer Journey Mapping, Visioning, Concepting and Service Blueprinting.

You could be forgiven for assuming ‘concepting’ is a typo. It’s not. It’s a word used often in service design to mean the generation of new ideas. It’s a vital part of the service design process and without it companies risk limiting their idea generation to fit with their existing systems, resources, and capabilities.

Companies that fail to deliver an excellent customer experience will find themselves further and further behind. To drive change and create services that provide the experiences that customers are looking for, companies need to reimagine the future to unlock new value.

Brands need to stand out from the crowd by offering exceptional services. In order to do this, they shouldn’t think about change in terms of what they think is possible to implement, based on only what they currently do. They need to utilise tools, such as the Vision wheel (more on this here) to reimagine the future, to reimagine the experience and capture that in a concept that is in line with that vision.

What is concepting?

As we have said, concepting is the generation of new ideas. However, the concepting process within service design is based on generating and finding a range of ideas. Concepting helps to take the generation of ideas away from concerns about the practicalities of delivering an experience. It allows a team to think laterally and for everyone to have a voice in the process.

In order to generate innovative, exciting ways to improve the target customer experience, ideas should respond to the future and customer needs. The design should be informed by these and not legacy issues.

A team concepting process helps to identify opportunities that could be developed further. Once ideas have been generated the way has been paved for them to be formed into compelling concepts.

What is a concept book and why would a company need one?

Change is often resisted in organisations. This is particularly the case when new ideas are perceived as complex, at odds with existing capabilities or not considered relevant and in keeping with current practice. It can also sometimes be difficult to envisage how an idea will work in practice. Not to mention, different people may have different interpretations of the same idea and how valuable it will be.

A concept book pulls together all the service products, offerings, and features that have been identified in the processes leading up to the concepting stage. They can be defined as a concept and the benefit to customers and the business explained.

Five characteristics of a compelling concept book

  1. It's clear how each concept in the book is a 'proof-point' for the service vision and target experience.
  2. The team is clear what each concept in the book is, how it could work and why it's valuable.
  3. People are excited by the concepts in the book.
  4. The team is comfortable taking the Concept Book and the concepts in it through to evaluation.
  5. It's shared by your team internally and influences thinking and ongoing initiatives, as well as new ones.

Concept books tend to be issued as drafts initially, and then following a process of updating and refining the concepts a final copy will be produced. It should clearly show how each concept in the book is a 'proof-point' for the service vision and target experience. It enables a team to see exactly what each concept is, how it could work and why it would be valuable.

Describing and presenting the ideas generated in the concepting phase in this way means that people should be excited by the concepts in the book. The team is more likely to be comfortable taking chosen concepts through to evaluation and it can influence ongoing and future initiatives.

Concepting with Engine Service Design

Here at Engine, we believe in the power of concepting during the service design process. We would love to share our expertise with you. We can help you innovate, differentiate, and reimagine. If you would like further information or would like to organise a concepting workshop where we can help you get the best from the process, Get in touch. We would love to chat with you.

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