Elaheh Nazari

Posted on 3rd August 2020

A Tiny History of Service Design: The Highlights

news-paper News | Service Design |

If you use service design in practice, we recommend a look at these highlights. This short book summarizes the history of service design and you can use it during a discussion with experts in the field.

A Tiny History of Service Design

4 Dates Every Service Designer Should Know to Not Look Stupid.

1982 The term “Service Design” is first coined by Lynn Shostack: It seems that Lynn Shostack was the first person who talked about service design in “How to Design a Service” published in European Journal of Marketing Vol. 16 which focused on Marketing planning and task descriptions.

1988 The SEVQUAL Model or Quantifying User Experience: As everything should be measurable this model is born to measure Service Quality. It has 5 dimensions which is called RATER as: Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, Responsiveness. And the following formula is created: SQ=P-E  (SQ is Service Quality; P is Individual Perception; E is Individual Expectation of the given service delivery). We will discuss SEVQUAL in another topic.

2004 Service Design Network is born: Brigit Mager created SDN to show that service design is a unique design field. And it works as a touchpoint for service designers and the world. It has more than 1300 members and more than 100 member organizations listed today.

2016 First Service Design Day: Yes, the 1st of June every year, Service Design is to be celebrated and SDN is the organization that created it in 2016. It helps service designers to create awareness about this field for those who don’t know about it.

6 Dates To Look Smart

10’000 BC The First Customer and Service: In those days people used to exchange goods and it seems that priests and priestesses were available and they offered religion which is intangible and so a kind of service, in exchange for food or something tangible

500 BC Adapt Things to Humans Not The Opposite Way: This happened with the first touches of ergonomics done by Hippocrates. He adapted the workspace and tools of doctors to their needs. 

350 BC Co-Creation, Co-Design or Participatory Design with Plato’s Republic: As Plato used to ask for advice from people, that is what a service designer does!

1876 First Telephone: Clients and customers can complain or give feedback about your product without any need to meet you physically, a century later call centers were made, and that’s one good reason to be thankful of Mr. Bell.

1913 Behaviorism and the Science of Experience: Behavioral psychology provides knowledge on how to make a change on users’ certain behaviors. Also with the matter of science of experience or phenomenology nowadays we know that improving the quality of experience of clients while using a service is what service design is about. You can see that the idea of phenomenology was first adapted by Edmund Husserl.

1939 Client-Centered Approach: It is the clients who know the problems and they want them to be fixed, and it is the service designer’s job to talk to them from the beginning to understand, support and accept their needs so little by little they know how the service will be provided in the end. Carl Ransom Rogers first talked about this kind of approach.

Some Other Notable Dates

1970s: The birth of Design Thinking Principles, first talked in Herbert’s The Sciences of the Artificial.

1984: Birth of the Service Design Blueprint, which is in relation with users’ experience of the service. 

1986: The First CRM System was born where it made it possible to digitize the customer information and that means more efficiency and better management.

1990: UX in Job, Donald Norman invented it when he joined Apple!

2009: First Master’s Degree in Service Design, in Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Espoo, Finland. That could be another reason to fall in love with this country!

2011: First Service Design Jam, held in San Francisco by the company WorkPlayExperience with 1200 participants. Now it’s an annual thing that you can join locally!

2017: Trainer Accreditation for Service Design, which is created by SDN to go through a self-assessment and a 2-year certificate would be granted.


A Tiny History of Service Design, Daniele Catalanotto, Blurb, Incorporated, 2018

Downloads for A Tiny History of Service Design:

You can also get an additional amount of interesting knowledge about this content. With our newsletter, you will get an efficient set of tools to learn a lot about topics focused on services & digital product building. Read more.