Jetlagged but excited, I arrived with high hopes and made my way to the centre of San Francisco a few hours after landing in the USA to attend a two-day training course at Cooper U on the topic of service design. In the following I will tell you about why I felt compelled to go there, and what I found there when I did.

Driven by technical developments, users’ changing expectations are making it clear that open and unbiased ways of thinking are becoming increasingly important, because a digital product is often just a small part of a complex service ecosystem. Yet how (tried and tested methods) and in what form (granularity, focus, variety, etc.) do we tap into these ecosystems? It was these and other questions buzzing around in my mind that made me choose this workshop.

Alan Cooper is the founder of the Cooper design and strategy agency and the author of a standard text in interface and interaction design About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design. He also coined the quote, “The future is right in front of us, unobscured by anything other than our inability to recognize it.” This neatly describes the objective of this and other workshops offered by his company – to strengthen our capacity for understanding our environment and identify opportunities accordingly. 

Nine designers from various regions around the world took part in the workshop. With the help of two workshop facilitators, we ran through the entire service design process (discover, design, determine, develop, deliver) on the basis of two examples. The key parts of the workshop here were the journey map and the service blueprint.

Discover, describe, determine

After the research phase, which involved surveying users and exploring the service ecosystem (discover), during the next phase (describe) the journey map served as the method for understanding the entire service cosmos – in other words, every moment in which the customer interacts with the company. The map allowed us to comprehend the research findings and transform them into useful tools. During the third phase (determine), the completed journey map served as the basis for analysis and synthesis and for evaluating and prioritizing opportunities. On the second day we employed various methods for generating and assessing the initial ideas relating to the opportunities we identified on the previous day. Through “bodystorming” we then explored and humanised the most promising ideas. The idea behind bodystorming is to physically run through the service process – much like a short theatrical exercise.

Develop, deliver

In the fourth phase (develop), we then drew up a service blueprint for the best ideas. This method can be used, among other things, for the participative prototyping of services. As with the journey map, each medium and each interaction that the user can initiate is captured along with everything that needs to happen in the background in order to provide the service. In turn, key points of the service are identified as well as the user’s communications and collaboration requirements, which affect individual aspects of the services together with external factors. During the fifth and final phase (deliver), we presented the range of services in a three-minute narrative demonstration that took into account the various perspectives (management, operations, technology and design).

Thanks to the excellent planning of the workshop, the sound guidance as well as the competent advice on applying methods, not to mention the laid-back, open atmosphere, I learned a great many things that I can use in my own work. All in all I can really recommend Cooper’s Service Design Immersive workshop.