Great Design & Great Service – A Potent Combination
Having run our own design and communications firm for going on 15 years, we’re very aware of the difference between a “service” business and one that is “product-driven.” We also know that in today’s marketplace that divide is quickly eroding. In what tech innovator Tim O’Reilly calls our new “attention economy,” every company, whatever they provide, is a service company. Even if you exclusively sell a product, you are in the service business. At the center of this new paradigm are design and designers.
“We’re living in an attention economy with thousands of devices and companies competing for eyeballs,” O’Reilly says. “It’s no longer enough to have a great product – it needs to be coupled with a great service. Service is at the heart of any user experience, and designers are crafting this experience, forging connections between products and consumers.”
While it has always forged that connection with consumers, design has taken on new importance in today’s service-driven marketplace. While it used to be thought of as the final step, the “make it look pretty” stage, design is now a key consideration at the genesis of any successful idea, tying directly into sales and marketing.
Bestselling business author Daniel Pink goes as far as to say that yesterday’s MBA may be today’s MFA, pointing out that the creators of Airbnb, for example, didn’t attend Harvard or MIT. They graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design.
“For a long time, you could be a business leader and be completely design illiterate,” Pink says. “If you are design illiterate today as a business leader you are in a world of hurt. You don’t have to be a great designer, but you have to be design literate.”
It makes sense that designers be in the room from the start. They’re inherently good at removing what’s not essential and adept at what Pink calls “problem finding.” Design decisions are today embedded in the entire process, from how organizations function to their customer service, the unique experience they provide.
“Solving an existing problem is not that hard,” Pink says. “But when someone comes to me and says, ‘You’re wrong about the problem, you’re missing it, there’s a problem down the road,’ that ends up being far more valuable. Research shows that those who approach their work as problem finders rather than problem solvers are more successful.”