Solving business problems with a design mindset

A design mindset for solving business problems

User experience, service design, customer experience… Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to understand the various disciplines and the language that goes along with them. In the end, what is most important is creating value and meaningful experiences for your customers. New research claims that 84% of organizations are now embracing a customer-centric experience model. Successful companies want to understand how to beat the competition by providing better experiences for their customers. Design approaches create value for customers with a people centered philosophy.

In this blog post, let’s take a look at the value of UX, CX, and service design and how these approaches overlap and differ, bringing various perspectives to the value creation table. We’ve created a handy quick reference chart (PDF) that you can download below by either clicking on the image preview, or the download button.

Download the design methods comparison chart


Download Reference Chart (PDF)

The world has become increasingly complex. Consumer expectations are high, and with digital the expected levels of service only rise further. People today have limited time, patience, and attention span. Along with this, options have increased – the possibility of switching to a competitor is immediate. Recent research suggests 66% of consumers who switched brands did so because of poor service.

People want to access your experience using many different means, including online, in person, through an app and via a call centre. This can be described as ‘omnichannel’ – using multiple channels. As well as multiple channels, consumers also expect access in many contexts. For example, they may want to pay their bills in the middle of the night or purchase a birthday gift on their commute to work.

Design thinking can provide ways to frame, visualize, and solve these complex business challenges.

Service design offers ways to talk about experiences that happen over time. These experiences are cumulative, and contain multiple touch points and multiple channels over time. This is often visualized or expressed in a customer journey map.

Example of a journey map

Image caption: an example of a journey map from UX Mastery.


You may have heard of ‘customer experience’. Customer experience (CX) and service design overlap in many respects, but there are some differences.

Customer experience or service experiences happen, whether someone is designing them intentionally or not. Service design gives us tools to explore, understand and improve the types of things customers are experiencing, and from a broader perspective than on a single touchpoint level. The goal is to consider the micro and the macro viewpoint of the customer.

As this case study in a Harvard Business Review article demonstrates, customers can express high satisfaction with one particular channel, but still be dissatisfied with their interactions overall, as a whole.

“As company leaders dug further, they uncovered the root of the problem. Most customers weren’t fed up with any one phone call, field visit, or other interaction—in fact, they didn’t much care about those singular touchpoints. What reduced satisfaction was something few companies manage—cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and in multiple channels over time.”

– Harvard Business Review – The Truth About Customer Experience

Service design can be seen as incorporating UX (with a focus on individual products or digital touch points) and CX (with a focus on metrics and market research). Service design can be seen as a bridge between these two disciplines. As with any discipline, service design has its own set of tools and language. What is important is the intent of these methods and approaches – which is to help us to solve business challenges.

In a Forrester blog post, Kerry Bodine outlines the differences between service design, customer experience, and user experience. She highlights that there are components of customer experience management that service design may not include, such as measurement or governance. The approaches have many things in common – a customer centric approach, trying to consider channels in an integrated fashion and an understanding of digital. In many organizations, they may be situated in different business units – CX is within the marketing department, with UX part of a technology or digital team.

In today’s world, user experience, customer experience and service design are all working together towards the same goals. They are interrelated, and come at business challenges from various angles and with various tools. Design can help to create value for customers, and ensure they have experiences that make them want to come back again and again.

Download the Service Design Heuristics Guide