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  • Writer's pictureArika Lawrence

UX Service Design Challenges Inspired By 2020

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

A white boarding session with pink post it notes

What user experience (UX) service design challenges have you experienced in 2020? When you think about UX Design, many people overlook that UX can come in many forms. The difference between UX design and UX service design is that UX service design focuses on the full end-to-end digital touchpoints, which includes physical interaction with teams or groups and the process steps it takes to complete the user’s desired outcome. UX service design focal point is the full customer experience journey: while UX design focuses on the user journey of a digital product or service and how a user interacts with it.

The design landscape is ever-changing, and I feel UX service design is becoming the hybrid role that is fusing UX and CX best practices and methodologies to develop a 360 view of users' needs today. Humans are multidimensional people with complex intentions and desires. Therefore, I believe companies will see the need to hire more UX service designers on their teams. UX service designers see value in devoting time to research the digital experience and implementing an exceptional customer journey that marries technology and human-centric touchpoints. Together, the UX and CX disciplines run alongside each other and intersect at times by hacking solutions with customers and ensuring they have a seamless end-to-end experience with products and services.

We all have learned a lot about ourselves in 2020, but from a design challenge perspective, here are three UX service design challenges that stuck out to me by industry:

1. Restaurant Industry: Due to COVID-19, the great debate about whether or not dining-in at a restaurant (or bar) is safe has caused madness and confusion for food establishments. Unfortunately, the inconsistent messaging about safety and statewide “safer at home” mandates have royally disrupted this industry. The obvious UX service solution is for restaurants to pivot to digital platforms like food ordering apps or adding payment acceptance on their website; however, these enhancements haven’t made a complete return of investment to restaurants and bars. The restaurant industry is a service-based industry; therefore, recovery is more than just a digital pivot. It’s more about how restaurants can extend their customer experience safely into the homes of their customers, without jeopardizing their health and limited resources.

How restaurant management can hack it: One of the low-hanging fruit solutions I see is asking your customer-base for feedback. Conducting a year-end survey is a simple and low-cost solution to getting more insight into your customers. It could also tell you why the customer relationship has changed and provide new ideas on improving the customer experience during these COVID times.

2. Retail Industry: It’s been sad to see quite a few retailers close their brick and mortar stores in 2020. There have been articles about the death of the mall circulating the web for years, but now, it is becoming more of a reality that malls are a distant memory. Since the boom of online retail, many people have converted to the love of convenience; especially, during these pandemic times. However, now that more stores are popping up overnight online, how do small business stores compete with larger stores? From a UX perspective, users want a simplified shopping process; the timing and the lifecycle of a purchase-to-delivery process can make or break a user experience.

How online retail management can hack it: Enhance your customer experience strategy. Customers may not always remember where they purchased something, but they will remember the end-to-end process it took them to get their item. Map out all the customer touchpoints as well as the digital touchpoints too. Look at ways to ensure each touchpoint is optimized with the intentionality to deliver a satisfactory experience. Keeping an open feedback loop is an excellent way to integrate your customer into your growth strategy. Find how they want to connect with you: could virtual product previews entice their interest? The more your customers’ feel there is an authentic connection, the more they will return to your brand.

3. Air Travel Industry: The pandemic has pretty much decimated global travel on a different level. There are gradual trends that the travel industry will recover in time, but the existing business service model will have to change drastically. Pre-pandemic, the travel industry was entering what I like to call a travel revolution: the demand to travel was sky-high (no pun intended), and travel organizations of all sizes were looking at ways to enhance their customer-centric strategies. From a UX service perspective, airlines and travel agencies were designing ways to streamline the travel customer journey while also getting creative with giving their customers’ customization options. New technology advancements (i.e., biometric travel screenings, RFID luggage tracking) and enhanced app and web platforms have improved the customer experience. With COVID-19 around, the way we travel in the future will change forever, but how will airlines and travel agencies move the travel industry forward in a post-pandemic?

How air travel industry management can hack it: The travel customer journey will require new steps in the process: travel health education. As airlines and travel agencies become more knowledgeable about new travel health requirements, this can help the travel industry move forward. Realistically speaking, UX service designers across the travel industry can help airlines and travel agencies with building out the health education process for both their digital platforms and in-person services: will airlines add rapid COVID testing at the airport? Will there be a universal COVID vaccination card requirement to travel? How will new travel health messaging be communicated to travelers before flying? Ultimately, leisure and business travelers want the luxury of traveling comfortably and safely, but they do not want it to feel like an overly complicated process now. UX service designers would be assets to any travel organization looking to reimagine their complex customer experience strategy. Like UX design, UX service design is iterative, too; it will take some time for airlines and travel agencies to develop their new process. Working in tandem with global health organizations (they need UX service designers) will be essential in getting us all back to enjoying the friendly skies.

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