Gerry: Hello and welcome to another episode of This is HCD. My name is Gerry Scullion, and I’m a human-centred design practitioner based in Sydney, Australia. Before we jump in, however, as this podcast was recorded in the Sydney CBD, I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the land where we meet today and pay respect to their elders both past and present.

In this episode, we caught up with Eduardo Kranz who is a design director at Fjord Canberra. We discussed where the service design and UX professions intersect in respects to the skills and activities that are done on a day to day basis. We didn’t get into the definition of what service design is or isn’t or any of the other semi contentious issues around the two practices.

Catching up with Eduardo Kranz, Design Director at Fjord, Canberra.

Speaking for myself, this was a really fun episode to record with lots of laughs in between takes. And for anyone who has worked or knows Eduardo will know just how funny he can be. Hopefully, we managed to capture some of that fun in this episode. So let’s jump straight in.

Gerry: Eduardo, thank you so much for joining us.

Eduardo: My pleasure. Thank you, Gerry, for inviting me.

Gerry: No worries. You come all the way from Canberra today.

Eduardo: Yeah. It was a short trip up to Sydney.

Gerry: How did you get up?

Eduardo: By plane.

Gerry: Oh, okay. By plane. You didn’t drive?

Eduardo: No. I had to use all those Qantas points to get here.

Gerry: Eduardo, let’s kick this off because we could be here all night. Tell us a little bit about your involvement with how you got into human-centred design.

Eduardo: So I got into human-centred design, I think partially by need. I come from a graphic design background, but I was always very interested in building websites and what’s the purpose behind this websites. And then from there, I think out of interest, I started diving into user interface design followed by user experience design and so on. Based on need I did start to, sort of, graduate my thought towards service design as well and really to move from there sort of detail-oriented around a product or a particular problem and moving to a sort of more holistic approach in looking at the whole service and a series of different problems can be solved.

Gerry: Great. So where are you working at the moment?

Eduardo: So currently I’m working with Fjord in Canberra. So I’m the Design Director for the Canberra Studio leading the government & health sector of the work that we’re doing in Australia.

Gerry: Let’ discuss today’s topic. So we’re going to be looking at the intersection of service design and user experience. And I know this is quite a contentious topic for some practitioners out there. And I’ve been following stuff on Twitter this week. So some questions related to service design and how it actually relates to user experience. Are they the same thing some people believe that if you’re a ‘good’ UXer, like Don Norman’s description of what UX is, really does it encompass service design. So Eduardo maybe tells us a little bit about your experience with this topic and where it originated.

Eduardo: I think it’s a very interesting topic particularly based on my previous experience that I had transitioning from UX to service design. There is a lot of opportunities to learn from each other and actually to leverage the detail and the craft that comes from UX design as well as the ecosystem and broaden thinking that comes from service design. Due to the requirements of the intersect, I think that there is definitely a lot of conversations that can be started so we can understand what are the things that each one can bring to the table, and more importantly what each other can learn from these interactions so we can provide better human-centred solutions across the board.

Gerry: Oh, okay. So like today, I know we definitely want to avoid the conversation about what service design is and also what user experience is and how they differ. We’re going to focus purely on those two roles and the two mindsets if you want. How they intersect and what does that relationship look like. So, maybe tell me a little bit more about that.

Eduardo: Personally, I believe the UX design has definitely crafted the path for service design as well as service design has created a lot of opportunities for UX design to come to the picture as well. In that sense, the intersect is a particular area where the strategic thinking and the ecosystem thinking that goes into service design to understand what are the different problems needed to be solved for a specific human across a board. Either being interactions between a citizen and a government or a particular customer with a series of services across a bank. It can be really beneficial to understand what is the journey that the customer is going to have, what’s the particular problems that we need to tackle along the way. From a UX perspective, every single problem that we solve with a human-centred design approach, do create benefits for the customers at that particular level. But also there are repercussions of actually introducing new products and services to a broader ecosystem level as well.

So for instance, imagine that you have a bank and part of that bank service are their home loans, and you have a great UX experience with it while applying for a home loan which is very easy to use and it actually provides a lot of value. But when you look at the other experiences they might have across the service, if they know a line or not necessarily tackling the same problems, you start providing misdirection in regards to expectations. And perhaps how a service as a whole can actually deliver value. So that’s why actually service design can benefit from UX designs. But the other way around as well. So if you have a service that actually delivers value to the customer in a consistent way, in one particular product or touch point does not deliver to the same level of expectations, you all of a sudden will have a very broken experience. And we all know that often the broken experience is the one that we remember instead of actually being the overall picture.

Gerry: Yeah. So like using the bank as a good example because I know a lot of the banks that there have invested heavily in UX and they’ve got strong capabilities. But not all the banks have got a strong service design capability. Not that I know of anyway. They tend to outsource that thinking and hence why the big consultancies like Fjord exist because they provide that speciality. But from the practitioner’s perspective in UX, it’s almost seen as a step up or it’s an advancement to their career to work in service design. So what are your thoughts on that topic?

Eduardo: I would say that I disagree that necessarily is a step up. I think it’s just a different way of thinking. So you can have UX practitioners that might start moving towards service design. Not necessarily because they want to grow in their career but just because they focus has shifted. Like all humans, we grow our interests, and they change and over time you might not necessarily be focused in a particular touchpoint or a product or a specific set of experiences as your focus point as you want to see the broader picture and solve multiple problems at a higher level. So I think it’s more about what preference and what necessarily the set of skews as something they grow over time.

You might have UX designers as well. They do have tendencies to be service designers because they see opportunities across a whole ecosystem, as well as we have UXers that are very focused on crafting very tailored and delightful experiences at a detailed level that often service designers won’t even realise, as well the other way around. You might have people that can actually look at the whole ecosystem and solve service problems in a meaningful and consistent way across the whole journey or the value chain for a customer. But they may or may not be able to dive into the detail and they actually get the input or say “I think that this particular set of languages or words were actually able to deliver or craft a much more meaningful experience”. That’s where the benefit of actually having service designers working with UX designers, and UX designers working with service designers, really actually can change the way that a service as a whole can be delivered. Because when we look into the detail where it really makes a product, it’s beyond a set of interactions. It’s what does a support look like, what’s the language, what does visual design look like. And also where is that particular set of interactions and experience being placed along the whole journey.

Gerry: Yeah. So when I hear all those skills and activities being listed out there, I know there are people out there in UX that are going to say, “I do that. I do that as well.” So I guess what I’m really interested in and going back today’s topic is the intersection. Who owns what and why?

Eduardo: It’s a great question, and I really believe that at the end of the day, who owns the whole thing is – I would say perhaps in a bit controversial way – it’s the customer. We are there to actually service the customer, independent of being the service designer or the UX designer. What we actually are is looking at what’s the perspective is actually looking in servicing them, a specific set of needs, and we have in some cases similar tools which actually give us a lot of common ground to actually drive conversations, as well as different tools in other areas as well. If we look at them at that particular area of the intersect, if we focus very much on the customer being the owner of the outcome and the person that can really validate – “are we doing the right thing?”, “Are we driving value to the customer?”. I think that what we actually should be focusing on is what’s the story that we’re crafting for the customer. Are we actually creating a meaningful story from end to end? Are we actually answering to the value that they need at the points in time that they need? And that’s something that– it really changes perhaps the discussion from being tools and skills. By really focused on empathy, storytelling and what’s the detail they have in the story.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: If we tell a story from a service level, you could be quite broad. But if you go into the UX level, you need to be quite detailed enough to really create the storyline behind the interface, and the impact that a particular experience will be created to the customer.

Gerry: Okay. So just going back to the original question of who owns what. So let’s play a hypothetical scenario here of an agency, a big consultancy. We’re not going to name any agencies that are brought into an organisation, and they’ve got UX team. And the service design capability is being brought in as they may ruffle some feathers with the UX team and they may kind of go, “Okay, well, why are they doing that when we do that work anyway?” What in your experience, how do you handle that?

Eduardo: I think that it’d be the type of approach that they’ll come to the door. I think, first of all, we need to understand that respectfully, we all have different perspectives around the same problem. So often when there is that type of scenario their consultancy comes to the door with the intent to revamp everything, I think it’s very disconsidered of the existing work. It’s very much understanding what has been done, “what’s the storyline that has being created?, and “does the storyline that each one of the different UX teams perhaps has created convey the same storyline the strategic thinking is looking at?”. Does it answer to the brand values? And when putting all those elements in perspective, all of a sudden, we not necessarily discussing what each team is going to be contributing or who owns what. But we are coming together to understand if this is the story that our brand wants to tell, and that perhaps at the service level, is a story that should be an opportunity to bring together all the different UX journeys, stories and products that are part of the ecosystem, and make sure that we’re creating a seamless experience for the customer. So would I say that the UX team own the product story and the storyline around a specific product? Yes. Would I say that the service design team has input into that? Also. But also I would say that the UX team has the knowledge to input into the overall brand story as well.

Gerry: All right. So, Eduardo just moving on from that. In your experience how is this currently being executed in businesses that you’ve worked in and what problems are you seeing amongst the teams?

Eduardo: I would say then based on my experience of seeing a fair few areas that confusion exists, particularly who does what role and how some people should be able to do some things and some other people shouldn’t be able to do. In addition to that, I think that if you take an example of a waterfall approach, where services design teams complete a project, and they hand over the outcomes into one or many UX design teams to go into further detail, I think that that’s particularly a big area of where problems can come and originate from. It is about creating that transference of what’s the intent the service design actually created for a particular service, and then when a UX design team picks that up, and they dive into the detail that has to go into to create an ideal experience for the customer. There is a lot of more questions actually come up. And having a good transference intent enables the UX team to actually go into the detail and really provide the best possible outcome at their level as
well.

Gerry: Okay. I know, I’m just looking at the slack channel there are some questions that have come out today. One from Nathanael Coyne down in Canberra. Where he’s asking a question about who’s superior to who in the chain between service design and UX. He believes that maybe there’s a pattern where service designers are perceived as being elevated to user experience practitioner. So I’m keen to get your thoughts on that.

Eduardo: I think it’s something that we started to touch before in our conversation which is about what’s the lens that you’re looking at a problem? Are you looking wide and broad and really trying to solve a series of problems across various stages of a customer lifecycle or a series of interactions? Or are you looking at one particular set of problems which are neatly tied together and going to the detail will probably be giving you the best possible outcome. So I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other. I think there are different points of view on how to solve different kinds of problems.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: And different people all have a great set of skills to solve detailed problems, as well as others– people who have great skills to solve a variety of problems.

Gerry: When we spoke earlier about product management in–

Eduardo: Exactly.

Gerry: — in episode 2 with Adrian Tan and Martin Dawson where we discussed a lot of these topics about the broken comb where certain areas where product management, people might be much better at certain things than I am. But I might be a much stronger and a lot of other areas, and that’s what makes me a service designer.

Eduardo: And not necessarily that one is better than the other. As you mentioned, it’s the set of skills and how you apply those skills. And because the vast majority of designers do follow human-centred design approach, we have a good number commonalities around the tools and practices in the pillars around human-centred design. However, some of the tools are very much tailored to service design. Some other tools are tailored to user experience design.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: And being practitioners, we become really good at a set of tools which make us able to solve problems in different ways more efficient than other way.

Gerry: So would it be fair to say that not every service designer can be a user experience designer and vice versa?

Eduardo: I would say that with experience, I think that both sides of the fence would be able to see opportunities across the fence or adding to the detail or part of an ecosystem. The same way there would be people that would thrive in the service design area because it’s broad and vast and you thinking quite broadly into something without going into much depth, as well as UX designers that would be able to go into a lot of detail and really drive outcomes that are very valuable at one point in time.

I wouldn’t say necessarily that they cannot be, and I think that we have people that crossed a most variety of the design fields. We have that unicorns that can do everything, “the lucky few”. And as well as people that thrive with a particular set of tools and the craft either being cross service design as well as UX design.

Gerry: It’s really interesting because like I’m still not convinced that service designers, they can become great UXers and stuff. I think service design is a specific skill that some people really struggle at that level to think laterally and to be really effective in those roles. But that was my own opinion.

Eduardo: It’s how you perceive the world. There are people that actually are very good and to know things into the detail and they thrive at that level.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: But I think that if you look at the broader aspect. It’s something that over time, you might see people that fluctuate between UX into service design as well as from services and into UX. It might be something that a certain topic makes you really passionate, and you actually want to go into the detail. But as you mentioned, there are people that incline and have an aptitude to go into that level and–

Gerry: And naturally just move into it.

Eduardo: Exactly. And I would say that if they do have the aptitude and they do have the ability, they should actually push their abilities to the max and really try to thrive into the UX field to service design field both if they can and not necessarily a user label to create boundaries about the work that they do. At the end of the day, we all trying to apply human-centred design and user design comes in all different flavours and sizes.

Gerry: And we got to learn to work together and be effective really as a team. Especially if two worlds are coming together like a consultancy and the organization that has hired that consultancy.

Eduardo: Yeah.

Gerry: They need to work collaboratively and effectively together.

Eduardo: Mm-hmm.

Gerry: Okay. So Eduardo, like we’re talking about you go ahead, and you do your research, and you do your field research, and you’ve done your blueprints, and you’ve understood the organizational structure, and you come back, and you’ve identified opportunities that you want to work towards– you want to– you’re going to start splicing. I don’t like using that word splicing. Well, you’re going to start identifying the opportunities for the business. Walk me through what activities that you’ve done to help ensure that those ideas reach fruition.

Eduardo: So particularly around services and that’s where when you’ll have the blueprint and identify the opportunity areas, that’s where UXers comes really handy and particularly a team member with a UX design set of skills will be able to add more value because particularly an opportunity is great. But there’s many different ways that we can solve those opportunities and bring those new areas of exploration into reality. So having somebody there as being along the journey with the service design team with a UX set of skills can automatically dive, one if I can add a little bit more detail around this particular area so we can craft other service concepts, or perhaps a little serve interactions or a live prototype. So what we can create is meaning and context around how can we solve a selling opportunity area.

Gerry: What does that look like?

Eduardo: I would say that depending on the service concept or the area of opportunity. Let’s say they have an opportunity around a new retail store. What you could actually do there is to how can we prototype the retail store. Or if you actually have a digital interface, having somebody with a strong UX set of skills to actually say that this is opportunity area. This is the narrative, being along the journey and I know exactly what the research has been. You have enough context to say, “Well, let me prototype about 6, 7, 8 screens.” So it can actually have perhaps a very high-level validation of are we going in the right direction. And that’s where UXers bring a lot of value for service design.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: Same way if we flipped a coin and we say we have the set of screens and have 6, 7 screens. And that’s gets handed over to the UX team. That’s not really enough for you to start actually driving, all of a sudden, the creation of an entire product, understand all the features that you are going to have that. There’s a lot of work. And that’s what product managers, a bigger UX design team, as well as service designers and stakeholders should come together and craft what’s the storyline around this product or service that were trying to create.

Gerry: Okay. So I’m just trying to look at it from my own experience. I’m actually an industrial designer. And whenever we were training, we always do the sketches and the sketches could be of products that haven’t been formed or we haven’t prototyped them yet. So what I’m hearing here is more like the service design role is more direct at that initial sketch, that outline of what a product could be. But you’re not really focusing on the mechanics at that stage in the user experience consultants will be looking at the mechanics of the product and the ergonomics would be something that you might collaboratively work on together.

Eduardo: Yeah.

Gerry: And that’s like kind of meeting point and that’s that intersection of where the two worlds coincide.

Eduardo: And what it sees are the very intersection point, in my belief is what’s the story we are creating. What’s the impact that these products are going to be creating from a customer perspective. So when we create a service blueprint, there’s a narrative. And if you take opportunity area, there’s a particular narrative that has been created around the opportunity area. And if you take that and start adding detail but not from a service design, but from my UX design or actually adding definition around what’s the narrative really looked like. Let’s say customer A interacts with product B and customer A gets outcome C from interacting the product.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: It’s great– identifies an opportunity area for a new product. But between step one and step two, we have a wealth of steps and–

Gerry: Interaction points.

Eduardo: Interaction points actually can be added to, and that’s where the value of having these combine multidisciplinary team creates.

Gerry: Yeah. I guess like when you’re working in those organizations, you can have your sponsor. You going to be your senior stakeholders who were owning those pieces. What tactics have you found really useful in helping get the vision across to those people who don’t play in the design space? Who don’t understand the differences between UX and UI let alone UX and service design? So there must be some skills and must be little things that you do to help ensure that vision gets across.

Eduardo: What I came to realise, which I was quite surprised, that often and between UX and service design only storyboards to communicate. And we use them at various levels. When we’re trying to communicate the impact of a product in a customer’s life, and particular product that has never been seen or competitors don’t have, or we don’t have necessarily a reference.

Gerry: It’s intangible.

Eduardo: Creating empathy through storyboards, it’s fantastic. If you can enact those storyboards into reality, let’s say if it’s a new physical experience, what if you just prototype that in actually storyboard step by step. How it’s going to feel like going through the physical experience. And you have enough detail in the storyboard. You’re getting to a stage that you almost can question what is the interaction should look like.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: And from there, you start questioning other things as well. Like does it need to be a digital interaction? Could we actually have these happening in that other part of the service? And really allows you to filter down to what’s the essence of the product that we need to create. And enable UX designers to really focus on what’s the core impact to the one we’re designing, needs to be creating so we can create this customer vision instead of what’s the features that we need to create for the customer.

Gerry: Yeah. And I know you work with Andy Polaine. He’s got a great metaphor. We’ve mentioned it before on the podcast. Like the director and then the whole kind of movie industry. It sounds like you’re using that storyboards are kind of like those early stages of drafting a movie like a movie director. Is that fair to say?

Eduardo: I believe so. And it’s funny enough that you bring the metaphor because if you look at the storyboards of the movies create, it actually be around the service level I would say.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: They actually give a scene one, scene two, scene three and you actually get a sense of what the whole narrative will be.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: But a lot of the detail is actually created in the set. And that’s the role of the director to actually get the actors to behave in a certain way.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: And if you look at the same way, while we’re trying to create with a story-driven intersection, it’s very much of how can we actually bring all the people that are going to be creating the scene or the actors. And help them to create the detail–

Gerry: Come to life.

Eduardo: And come to life.

Gerry: Yeah. I know you’re keeping on with this analogy. If you had 10 screens and they all made up the beginning, middle and end, if you were to pull one of the pieces out in the middle, it wouldn’t make sense because it’s not within the context of the flow of information. So I think that’s something we need to consider as well.

Eduardo: Mm-hmm. And even when you’re actually adding the detail is something I learned from a colleague of mine, Chirryl-Lee Ryan that often the best part of the interaction happen between two scenes in a storyboard. And you really need to dive into those two steps and understand that until you start actually opening those steps and get to a level that up you cannot go further because you just adding screens for the sake of it. Then you know we might not have enough detail to actually drive the interface.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: I’m not saying that you wouldn’t have enough context. But perhaps you might not actually uncover perhaps the one point in time that you could perhaps have remove a screen or two– and created a simpler and smarter experience for the customer.

Gerry: Yeah, okay. So Eduardo we’re coming to the end of this episode and I’m sure you’re aware, just three questions, the three questions from hell which Mark usually does. But Mark is still away on holidays. So we’re going to start off this segment. So tell us what is the one professional skill that you wish you were better at?

Eduardo: Oh, you’re going to laugh at this. But it’s definitely–

Gerry: I am definitely going to laugh at this.

Eduardo: Communication.

Gerry: Communi– [laughs].

Eduardo: And it’s not due to my accent. As much as I would believe they might have played a role before.

Gerry: Tell the listeners where you’re from, first of all.

Eduardo: I’m from Brazil.

Gerry: Okay. So just continue. You can go back to your communication piece.

Eduardo: And I think that sometimes I have– personally, I have a tendency to really build the context around the story. And you might have got from the podcast as we talk today. But particularly, I think communication is not necessarily how much you communicate but how well you communicate and the way that actually I surpassed the challenges that have that is actually building that through context. And context can come either through talking more which sometimes not necessarily may help. But also how can you visualize. So often when I try to explain things, I use visual aids to actually add contexts in different mediums to actually communicate more efficiently.

Gerry: Okay. Second question. What is the one thing in the industry that you wish you’d be able to banish?

Eduardo: That’s a good one. Right now at this point in time, I probably would say labels. I think that people sometimes get really precious in regards to what’s the label around what I do. I think we all are humans trying to make the world more human. And in a sense, applying human-centred design is about have different focused points, have different outcomes perhaps on the work that we do. But most importantly, staying truthful to the humans that we are trying to provide value to you. And I think that being a service designer, that has been a UX designer in the past, that has been a user interface designer prior to that. I think that my thinking may have shifted in focus or perhaps the type of problems that I solve.

Gerry: Yeah.

Eduardo: The people that I’m trying to impact has stayed truthful along the way as well.

Gerry: Yeah. Excellent. Amen to that. It hit a point. So what is the message that you give to emerging human-centred design talent for the future?

Eduardo: Probably I would say that considering them the way that the market is going to really try to differentiate yourself. And I would say they can do that through collecting experiences, trying new things, push the boundaries. If you’re a great interface designer, what if you actually push yourself to the point that you might be learning development. Or if you are great UX designer try to solve bigger problems and not going into the detail. Get yourself out of your comfort zone would be the key fundamental thing to be able to get new talent coming to the market or new talent right in the market to really shine in the future years.

Gerry: Eduardo, thank you so much for being here. It’s absolutely a pleasure to chat with you today.

Eduardo: Fantastic. Thanks so much for inviting me, Gerry.

Gerry: So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this episode and if you’d like to be part of the conversation or community hop on over to thisishcd.com where you can request to join the Slack channel and help shape future episodes and connect with designers around the world. Thanks for listening and see you next time.

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Posted by Gerry Scullion

Founder and Host of This is HCD