Service Design Academy

SDA Insights Volume 6

Welcome to SDA Insights Volume 6

In advance of National Customer Service Week, we reflect on how expectations are rising, and business transformation needs service design to keep up.

National Customer Service Week 4th to the 9th of October

The Covid-19 crisis is not over, and the longer-term societal and economic impacts are not yet fully known and understood but they will shape the future business landscape. This is a critical time to take stock of lessons learned and to re-imagine and re-design future priorities.

The UK Customer Service Index Report launched in July shows a slight improvement in overall customer satisfaction, although some improvement can perhaps be credited to better complaint handling and service recovery. Record numbers of customers have experienced a problem with an organisation. What this demonstrates is that businesses have adapted to become better at dealing with issues but not necessarily better at preventing complaints in the first place.

Customers have appreciated improvements or innovation in services such as

  1. better scheduling to avoid queuing
  2. proactive communications and dialogue
  3. support with mental, physical, or financial well-being
  4. advice and knowledge to help navigate challenging situations and life events
Nearly 25% of customers believe that some organisations have used Covid-19 as an excuse for poor service. Customers were empathetic and patient towards the disrupted level of service which they received during the first 6 months of COVID. But fast forward a year – that’s a year to adapt, plan, fail, try again, and improve – with some considering “because of COVID…” is deemed to ben an excuse that no longer cuts it.


When Covid hit, it was inevitable that service levels would fall while companies readjusted and established teams working from remote locations. Wait times lengthened, processes were unclear, and the sharpness of businesses became blurred, but three quarters of customers expected this.


Almost 18 months later, Covid-19 cannot be used exclusively as an excuse for poor service. Expectations rise, and the best businesses transform themselves to keep up.


Covid has heightened the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and innovation. Organisations need to learn from the enforced changes of Covid-19, retain the benefits and develop the mindset and capabilities to enable ongoing innovation.

More customers have made online purchases or chose to buy from local or ethical suppliers, and the number of customers who are willing to pay more for excellent service has grown to almost 32%.

preference for excellent service even if it costs more has rose from 26.7% in july 2018 to 31.6% in july 2021. Preference for low costs, no frills service has decreased from 14.1% in july 2018 to 12.2% in july 2021

In addition to these statistics, the value of listening and learning from user experiences has strengthened our understanding of the contribution of customer service to well-being, quality of life, trust in organisations, and business performance. A sustained focus on customer experience will be vital for the health and prosperity of the organisations, their customers and employees, and our economy.

The problem with thinking about customer experience without service design is it risks creating gaps in the delivery and maintenance of services and products. Unless your organisation is set up and working to deliver a consistently great experience for all customers, problems will float to the surface, with inconsistencies and customer frustration from unintended consequences.

In large organisations there will be multiple teams responsible for designing and delivering what in the end should feel to the customer like a unified experience. Service Design as a practice ensures the customer experience is unified, and that the organisation can deliver it. Unified customer experiences are also critical for small businesses who can’t afford to take costly risks when innovating.

For any organisation, Service Design should be your first port of call when designing new processes or rethinking entire ways of doing things; more now than perhaps ever before.


We’d love to hear what you have learned about customer service in the past 18 months, as a customer or as you deliver a service. To start the conversations, we’ll see you over on social media.


  1. https://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/
  2. https://synthetix.com/blog/the-covid-excuse/
  3. https://www.foolproof.co.uk/journal/how-service-design-enables-great-customer-experience/

Great short reads

Measuring the value of service transformation

Global events, research and technology company GDS collaborated with individual service teams in several government organisations to identify and document the value of their digital transformation work. This blog post marks the start of a series, which aims to document these examples and case studies of best practice and good end-to-end service design.


The Power Of Branding

The design Council has created this guide to shed some light about branding: what is it, how it works and how you can use it to help improve your business or the perception of your service.

Events worth planning for

National Customer Service Week (NCSW) Is fast approaching! From Monday 4th of October ICS will be celebrating customer service in organisations with a series of themes. They have prepared activities for each day, in addition to some helpful resources.

Service Design Network Virtual Global Conference Join us on October the 21st – 22nd, 2021 in Taking a Stand to impact our organisations and our communities so that we may co-create a better tomorrow.


Please Vote for Us!

The Service Design Academy is thrilled to be a finalist in the Digital Leaders 100 Awards in the Digital Public Service Innovations of the Year category! This recognises how we redesigned our online learning with our learners, customers partners and friends.

We’d love this wonderful collaboration to be celebrated – so please do take 20 seconds to vote for Dundee and Angus College “Service Designing Online Learning” here.

Public Service Innovation of the year Finalists 2021

As always, we’d love to hear if:

  1. You have an article to share with our community of changemakers
  2. You have an event happening and want to spread the word
  3. You’d like to talk about any courses or business course funding opportunities

Use the link https://www.sda.ac.uk/contact/ or email info@sda.ac.uk

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