Service Design Academy

Staying relevant to drive innovation. Why businesses must constantly engage with customers.

Red cup with text

I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer! As the seasons change, September always fills me with that fresh start feeling. It’s that nostalgic sense of heading back to school equipped with a brand-new pencil case, stationery, and warmer clothes. It’s the traditional time to begin learning, with colleges and universities welcoming learners to their campuses.

It’s also the time of year when we start to root out new TV series, boxsets, and films for the winter nights ahead.

That fresh start feeling has inspired new perspectives in our course offerings, which can help tackle organisational problems and provide the skills to do things differently.  With the unique set of challenges everyone is facing right now, we need to lose assumptions about the nature of work and how it is organised.

The beauty of Service Design, it that it’s for absolutely everyone.  It takes the creative tools in a designer’s kit and makes them accessible to all. If you have a problem, and a user in need of a solution, the process will open you up to innovative possibilities you hadn’t previously considered.

In fact, service design has generated huge change in industries that aren’t typically associated with creativity. The Service Design Academy has worked with leaders and teams in national & local government, finance, education, insurance, health care and charities, empowering them to adopt a human centred perspective and make innovation a way of life.

Right now, we have a great opportunity to shape ourselves and our workplace for the future so that come the Spring, we’re ready to bloom and grow and welcome back the sunshine.

However, if you are tempted to think that your business is fine, relying on the same old strategies to deliver future success, remember the history of Blockbuster and Netflix

Blockbuster store

Within the past decade, there isn’t a better example of a business that has pivoted based on customer preferences, wants, and needs, than Netflix. And there’s no better example of a business that didn’t, than Netflix’s competitor Blockbuster.

If you’re a child of the ’80s or ’90s, a trip to the Blockbuster video store was a staple ritual in planning your weekend entertainment.

The massive video rental chain was a one-stop shop where you could hire a video while picking up your popcorn and sweets to enjoy a cinematic experience in the comfort of your own living room.

At the height of its popularity in 2004, there were more than 9,000 Blockbuster stores around the globe with over 500 in the UK alone.

At that time Netflix was a service that delivered movies to customers direct by mail.  Netflix’s model was innovative, but when cable companies started offering movies on demand, no one wanted to wait the delivery time when you could stream whenever you wanted.

How both companies responded to this market change defines the difference between traditional and agile business models.  It’s also why business leaders must constantly engage with customers to stay relevant and drive innovation.

Blockbuster held on to its business model, by using service design, Netflix became an on-demand streaming site, facing up to the competition by meeting customer needs and expectations.

It didn’t stop there.  Recognising the value of service design and design thinking to continuously improve its business model, Netflix encouraged teams to delight customers through new opportunities to drive better engagement and new revenue.

Netflix then quickly moved to create unique content, recognising that customers were hungry for better and more provocative content – series and movies that would never be shown on mainstream television – shows like Orange is the New Black, Dahmer, and Ozark.

Netflix changed again in 2016 completely rebuilding its interface to offer trailers that launched as the customer started scrolling, capturing customer attention from the second they landed, and doing away with still images or a series of posters.

They also leveraged AI and predictive analytics with “Because you watched …..” creating a unique experience for every viewer based on their viewing habits. This set customer expectations for every other entertainment company!

Every one of these innovations came from empathising with their customers, using service design to discover again and again, what every customer wants to experience when using the service.

In 2013, Blockbuster went into administration and by December that same year, and unable to find a buyer for the business, the remaining stores were closed.  Netflix has 200 million customers worldwide.  

That’s the power of service design.

Business transformation and creating a culture of innovation aren’t easy tasks. Fortunately, we have industry-leading resources that can help you. Our experts are constantly creating courses and tools to reimagine the business world as a more innovative, supportive place for everyone.

If you’re looking for a new approach to business challenges, intent on engaging with your communities, interested in learning how to innovate and problem-solve, or future proofing by becoming agile and flexible, our courses offer a hands-on, learn by doing insight into the process of service design. You’ll learn how it drives success, relaying stories from innovative organisations who have used service design and design thinking to gain a competitive advantage in their industries.

Our method is simple and scalable.  Which is why we are the world’s first Service Design Network Accredited Organisation.  If you’re ready to innovate and change the way you work, you can start today, and we can help you move quicker than you ever thought possible.

Get in touch to arrange a chat. We’d love to help.

Contact info@sda.ac.uk

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