November 13, 2014
Making Services Visible
A service, in the broadest terms, is an interaction between a user and a provider to enable the user to accomplish something. This could be anything from buying a ticket to enter a museum to getting a medical check-up to ordering food at a restaurant. Services are co-created between user and provider each time they are delivered and so are never quite the same. They also unfold over time to create an experience.
The other thing about services is, they are often invisible and intangible.
Unless you see them being offered or have some kind of menu of them, it’s hard to see what services a provider may offer, whether in a space or online. As a result, many users aren’t aware of what they can do and hence not using services that providers are working quite hard to offer.
This is a common issue we hear from many clients, across sectors and services. So we thought it would be useful to highlight five strategies you can use to make service offerings more visible so more people can take advantage of them.
Across a variety of industries, organizations are making their staff more visible; for instance, by providing welcoming / concierge staffing like in branch banking, mobile staff who rove throughout spaces such as in an Apple Store, or making staff that might once have been hidden away behind-the-scenes visible like museum conservators. By making staff more visible, users can ask questions and be engaged, providing an opportunity to uncover services and support they might need.
Events and programs
Another way to showcase what services are provided is to create specific events and programs so that customers will show up at an appointed time – or stumble upon others who have. This way, providers can tell a group all at once, whether they are there intentionally or just dropping-in to learn more. Examples of such events and programs abound: sewing classes at fabric stores, project demos at home improvement stores, or classes at Apple stores.
Often a great way to show what you have to offer is through large displays and environmental graphics that can catch someone’s eye as they enter, while he or she is waiting, or at other key moments in their journey. If you’ve been to a pharmacy lately, you’ve probably noticed lots of posters for services that are new to pharmacies (like flu shots and check-ups) because without them, you’d just assume these were places to request and receive medication and nothing more. Taken to the extreme, you can think of every physical point of service delivery as a kind of “briefing center” of sorts.
Similar to how environmental graphics, displays, posters, and signage provide a chance to make services visible in a space, so can the display systems we’re all carrying around with us: our mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Using devices, you can create virtual tours to help people navigate, menus of options, or even create places that are “location-aware” using sensing technologies to notify users of what (or who) is nearby based on preset preferences and profiles using things like iBeacon or geofencing technologies.
The way spaces are organized and what you can see when you enter will dictate what you are aware of. While they have downsides, the traditional food court is an incredibly effective way to organize services from different providers as you can generally stand in one place and rotate 180 to see everything that’s available. Often, we experience just the opposite and have to go through lots of twists and turns to figure out what we can do, which could be fine if you’ve got time or are the exploring type but may not work well if you need to decide quickly and don’t want to walk see what’s around the bend.
Good luck making the invisible visible!