It seems, to be any kind of Digital Product Manager, you need to have your finger in every pie. More fingers than I’ve got on my hands. And toes. From UX, generating and validating ideas, knowing your consumers better than they know themselves…and that’s just the beginning. Daily, i’ll get a storm in my brain caused by the enormity the task.

To overcome the horrors of ‘option overload’, I seek out methodologies, tricks and craffty manoeuvres that I can pull out with mere moments notice. Most of which involve posit notes… (Can I get an hallelujah for 3M)

I attended a General Assembly evening class on ‘Service design’ so I could start understanding and optimising our eCommerce service at Treasury Wine Estates.

‘Service Design’ definitions I like:

“Service design helps to innovate (create new) or improve (existing) services to make them more useful, usable, desirable for clients and efficient as well as effective for organisations.” Stefan Moritz – 2005

“Service design is all about making the service you delivery useful, usable, efficient, effective and desirable.” UK Design Council – 2010


This video sums it up.


The teacher, Tristan Cooke (pictured above) works in Customer Experience and Service Design for the National Australia Bank. This guy is hella qualified with a PHD in ‘behaviour change through design’. I feel really lucky that General Assembly gives me the opportunity to connect with hyper specialists.

Two learnings from the class you might enjoy:

  1. The difference between a product and a service, is that a service is consumed over time and space. E.g. An iPhone can be viewed as a service because it is used over time (at least until the next $1,000+ model comes out 5 minutes later) and space (at home, at work, in a club, software downloaded from the Apple store, day, night, at the eftpos machine).
  2. We were taught ‘Service Blueprinting’. It involves liaising with stakeholders and consumers and creating a blueprint that defines all the different parts of a service.We look at:
    • Physical evidence – What the consumer interacts with
    • Customer actions – What the consumer does
    • Visible actions – What the consumer does
    • Invisible actions – What we do the consumer can’t see
    • Support processes – Things we do to allow actions

I found this example blueprint on the net to be a pretty good format.

But does it work?

I trialled this method in an attempt to understand and improve a new service we’re creating for subscription wine products.

I found it difficult as a first timer. I find getting the language and granularity spot on is difficult. Though this is almost always a challenge with a lot of my methods.

It was made harder by the fact that it’s a new service leveraged on pre-built software. We wanted to strive for a ‘pimped out’ service, but reality and limitations kept on getting in the way.

What we did get out of our 1.5 hour session was the bare bones of a blueprint. We discovered a few ways to improve the service we’d initially designed. I’ll keep iterating on this internally and then take it out to the business/consumers for some feedback. Overall a very successful session…though there is a lot of work to go to finish and test the blueprint.

I believe the new perspective will help me to optimise our service and really put the consumer front and centre and would highly recommend learning this skill.

Tristan was an engaging teacher, and to be honest – he seems pretty obsessed with Service Design Thinking (which made me so happy). So if you want to what he’s been crafting check out his blog: or follow him on twitter @humansindesign.

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