Service Design for Digital Products: What’s behind the screens and how it impacts your success

Before you start building or even thinking about your product, there are a few crucial things that can make your product stand out in an oversaturated market - and in a world where reviews of your product are nearly instantaneous.

We’re back with another guide to all things Service Design – the thing that few can define, but every great product needs. In case you missed it, read the introduction here to understand the fundamentals.

This time, we want to take a deeper look at the mechanics of Service Design and specifically how it can be applied to digital products. Before you start building or even thinking about your product, there are a few crucial things that can make your product stand out in an oversaturated market – and in a world where reviews of your product are nearly instantaneous.

So, where can you start? It’s a long journey, but we’ll go over the key elements that go into Service Design infrastructure.

Map the beyond and behind the screen of your product

The first question to ask is: How can I really help my customer? Service design is about having a broad view and going deep into your digital product to find out how you can deliver the best possible experience. It’s about defining the entire tone and system that makes up the back of a digital product: the behind the scenes that lets the show go on.

Take a look at how it applies to fintech: think about the interaction between an ATM and a banking app. Consider how you would connect the app to the experience of using the ATM: What will the connection be, that can improve both the physical and digital service? Who will assist customers when they need more guidance using the app?

It can be hard to know where to start. So let’s break this down into the concrete elements you need to consider:

Customer experiences

Starting from the very beginning, you want to look at your service principles and their conditions, for the best experience you want to be transparent and make sure your customers understand the full scope of using your service. Make sure your customer has clarity on how their data will be used, the rules, policies, fees, and limitations on adjusting or canceling service. In addition to this, consider service guidance: how will you onboard and teach your customers to use the services in the app. In case any technical errors should occur, you also want to have a mapped out plan for service recovery – how will you react? How will you get access to help your customer? There are some unhappy paths your customer can go through. It’s best to know what issues they might have with this digital product ahead of time so you can design the solutions and flows for them.

Finally, you should consider your offboarding too: what would be a meaningful and memorable way to say good-bye in the digital realm. This small detail can leave even departing customers with a better impression of your business.

Encompassing all of this, you need to maintain experience consistency. How can you make sure you are delivering the same level of quality at each touchpoint. For example, you want to avoid things like asking for documentation and data repeatedly at different touchpoints if you’ve already had your customer enter certain information elsewhere in your app. No one likes to resubmit the same things multiple times. Notifications fall under this category as well. In mapping a digital product you can look into how, when, and why these should pop-up.

Integrations, partners, and tech

Service Design is always considering how interactions work behind the scenes and how to integrate that with the tech you are using. That means looking at data and information flows. For example, how you might store their data and how you can use it in the future to keep improving services. This also means that you need to understand the systems you need to have in place to deliver this experience –  the back office tools you may need. For example, the automations you can develop and whether that is feasible in terms of technology.

Connections with partners and additional services are also important. Do you know which 3rd party integrations would best serve your customer? With Service Design research, you can find out, since the output of this will be an overview of all the service aspects of your product encompassing business, technology, and user experience.

So, now you can start to get an idea of what it means to undertake Service Design in mapping your product. It sounds deceptively simple, but it’s complex. It requires looking at your product in a way that is broad and deep – to really design the how. How will you provide your customers with a truly great experience? Once you start researching these elements and answering those questions, you can start to get a solid foundation of how you might integrate services into your product.

3 Pillars of great Service Design

But, how do we do all of this effectively? To that, we can look to the 3 pillars of Service Design: research, orchestration, and organization.


The specific aim of your research should be to understand both the people using the service and the people working backstage – the internal actors. Some methods include: service safari, stakeholder and expert interviews, shadowing, interviews, workshops, user diaries, and empathy maps.

The magic power to apply here is Deep Empathy. That means you do more than just try on someone’s shoes, but you walk in them through every step of the process and every variable you can consider.

Something to avoid here is assuming you understand what a service should be like. Maybe you think it should be fast, but that means nothing is being double checked. Are you sure your customer wanted to buy the item instantly? It can be frictionless, but that could raise concerns about security – why was it so easy to make a transaction? And even if it seems counterintuitive talking about digital products, don’t fall into the trap of thinking the best service needs to be 100% online. Things like help desks with a real face to face interaction or a physical card can add a huge wow factor.


This is the part where you weave together the inner-workings of your backstage. You can analyze research data to connect ideas for improvement.Some common methods to apply include drafting personas, user journeys, blueprints, and holding ideation workshops.

The key elements to keep in mind with orchestration are connection, simplification, visual representation, and flexibility. This means, respectively, that you need to connect different data points, make things understandable so they are actually usable, give them visual clarity, and finally – know how to read the room so you know when you need to make a change.


The final piece is organizing your business so you can implement new processes and protocols for all the departments. You can do this through internal workshops and training, making sure you properly hand over the knowledge people need to provide your services at every stage. Organization also means the practical, tangible tools you will use – what are the interfaces for the backstage and how well everything be documented internally.

Here, the super power to wield is storytelling, evangelism, and patience. You want to get people excited about your processes and you also want to give them the time to learn in a meaningful way.

Tying it all together

The best part of Service Design is its wide applicability. Now that you know what you need to start asking and looking for, the possibilities seem endless. The beauty of service design is that it focuses not just on the customer, but on every human that interacts with your digital product. This is what makes it stand out from other disciplines that can often center the idea or the customer – but don’t really look at the wider set of dots that need to hold a product together. Still not convinced? Check out our companion article all about the risks of skipping Service Design and its crucial difference from UX.

If you want to know more or talk about Service Design for your product, just drop us a line here.


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