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Service design: why business owners should care

Service design is defined by Wikipedia as:

"The activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication, and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers."

Simple really, but how do you, as business owners make this happen?

Below are 3 practical steps you can follow to improve the customer experience in your small business:

1)  Ask your employees

Your employees deal with your customers on a daily basis, and in a lot of cases, is well aware of their frustrations. Problems with support after hours, statements not being sent together with invoices, inability to reach a specific person without going through the switchboard etc., could all be customer complaints that your employees have grown to accept as unsolvable and just the way things are.

Employees often end up not looking or thinking about solutions because no-one has actually told them that they can play a role in identifying and improving these issues. However, they would normally jump at the occasion. So make some time to talk to them!

2)  Ask your customers

Although a bit trickier, as customers normally don't want to talk about your business, but rather about their own, try and slip a gentle, "What did you think about it when we started doing x in the company", into the conversation? This is a clever way to see if you can't prod them into moaning about your business. Some of these moans might be things that apply to all your customers, which means the time you spend fixing them will be well worth it.

3)  Look at your competitors

Competition is the one thing in the private sector that generates better, more usable solutions. When customers can go elsewhere, a business owner is forced to try and constantly improve his product or service in order to retain customers.