Book review: Service Design for Business

Reading time
3 min read

Jun 17, 2021

Service Design for Business is the second book by Ben Reason and Lavrans Løvlie, founders of Livework. In writing this book, they are accompanied by Melvin Fire Flu, Director of Strategy and Business Design at Livework. Therefore, it is no surprise that this book has a more business-savvy approach than its predecessor ‘Service Design: From insight to implementation’. While the first book focused on introducing service design methodologies for beginning service designers, this book is more suitable for the less creative business managers among us.

The book provides insight and tools to be customer-centered and apply service design methodologies in all kinds of business challenges. Service Design for Business provides an analytical approach to service design, where the reader is expected to have a basic understanding of business terminology. The book is basically divided into four parts. After a somewhat theoretical introduction to service design, there are three chapters devoted to the customer, the business, and organisational change respectively.

For a more extensive and thorough introduction of service design, it is better to read the first book of the directors of Livework. The new book delves directly into the theory and offers little room for the explanation of basic service design concepts, such as customer orientation, the design process, explorative research or customer journeys.

“The new book delves directly into the theory and offers little room for the explanation of basic service design concepts”

Service design, the solution for…

After a brief introduction into service design, the three subsequent chapters present various recognisable challenges related to these three themes. Examples include achieving customer loyalty, successful launch and adoption of new services and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration within the organisation. Within these chapters, service design is put forward as an effective approach to these challenges. Spoiler; the authors of Service Design for Business preach service design to be a solution for almost any challenge, making the book become repetitive altogether. ‘The power of repetition’ does not apply here, as the book fails to fully explore, cover and exploit the richness of service design as such.

A missed opportunity

The structure of the book is very accessible. The division into three themes provides an easy and powerful overview of the applicability of service design. After each piece of theory, three reasons to read on are presented, together a summary of ‘Takeaways Messages’. The illustrations in the book are drawn in the style of Livework, and are a welcome change to the text and results in a very readable and airy whole. The illustrations are however quite repetitive; the design of almost all artwork is based heavily on the Customer Lifecycle, while small adjustments have been applied to make a point. However, these adjustments are so abstract that no knowledge can be subtracted from the illustration without having to read the corresponding section. A missed opportunity.

The basis of many illustrations in the book

In addition, this book lacks the creative aspect of Service Design. The service design tools tend to be flattened to business tools that merely can be applied for analysis. The book focuses on the use of Customer Life Cycles as an analytical tool and thereby fails to utilise the broader landscape of available service design tools. Furthermore, it lacks the step towards creating relevant solutions, in which the design process itself should play a central role. This seems to be a deliberate choice, as the book was written for businesses. Even though, it does not give a complete picture of the skills and potential value of service design.

The question is whether this is a bad thing, as the book provides a good start for any business manager to bring the basic ideas of service design into the organisation. Moreover, creatives can learn to adopt the business mindset and metrics related to service design methods. Due to the fact that the number of good books dedicated to service design can be counted on the fingers of one hand, this book provides a welcome addition altogether.

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