Service Design Expert Birgit Mager: Building innovative service businesses

To improve the service sector’s innovative capacity, Innovative DigiTech-Enabled Applications & Services Institute (IDEAS) held a 2009 Taiwan Service Experience Engineering International Forum – Customer Value-Oriented Service R&D, inviting Dr. Birgit Mager, the founder of Service Design Network (SDN) and a well-known service design and experience research expert, to visit Taiwan to share her experiences. The following is a summary of an interview with her: To an enterprise or organization, service design is a planning activity. The process is to first set up an internal service procedure, followed by creating useful, usable and desirable user experiences from a user’s standpoint, and culminating in profits and differentiation of the services provided for the enterprise or organization.

In the mid-1990s, we collaborated with many German businesses and multinational banks such as Siemens and Deutsche Telekom to develop more logical and rational services. Generally speaking, companies paying attention to technological applications consider injecting technology into service design.

In fact there is more than one way to implement service design. In addition, it should vary in scope depending on a business’s needs. A business may consider starting from a small project. An example is an airport in Australia that is trying to implement a weeklong small service design project aimed at analyzing passengers’ behavior pattern in order to improve its service.

Another example is Deutsche Telekom, who believes all departments must provide good services to each other before it can provide good services to customers. Therefore, the company changed its corporate culture through large service design projects. We work with many department heads to jointly improve businesses’ internal service flows in order to raise employees’ awareness of customer needs.

In research we conducted on the world’s service cultures, the results reveal that Asian countries pay more attention to the quality of interpersonal interactions and the extent of friendliness of personal relationships, whereas in North America companies stress service flows and the quality of the service framework, without paying particular attention to personalization. However, globalization has enabled services designed by major service providers to be applied to different parts of the world, with relevant standards already established. Consequently, the fundamentals of service may indeed be applied to various parts of the world without much differentiation. Adjustments are needed only when different customer expectations caused by cultural differences are factored in.

By Qin Zhen-jia