At the beginning of the 20th century, we were 1.6 billion humans on Earth. In 2000, we reached 6.1 billion. Today, we’re heading towards 8. We’ve built vast cities that interconnect megacities, gigantic airports, railway systems, global supply chains, the internet, the mobile economy, the social media platforms, and the blockchains. We’ve entered what Parag Khanna calls the connectographic era. Every day, these 8 billion people try to get things done by asking someone for it or by utilizing something that has been provided by someone else. This usually happens with the help of what is called a service.

Yet, for most of us, the very notion of service relates to frustrated customers, unpleasant experiences, and users rage-quitting or angrily confronting service providers. In several cases, customers feel that services have their own realities. A bubble of rules and regulations, of processes and guidelines. How many times have we encountered the sorry excuse of “the system doesn’t allow me to do that”. Services are often orchestrated with bureaucratic mindsets that have poor to no meaning for the customers. Even worse, they are designed with a completely ideal imaginary customer in mind. Moreover, services too often reveal the caricature of organizational dysfunctions and management failures. What makes sense in the boardroom, on a PowerPoint, is often irrelevant and counterproductive for the end user on the frontline.

This global and busy complex world is often a mess. Work is hard and our bureaucratic legacy institutions are struggling to cope with massive changes amidst the chaos. The signages, urban mobility visual wayfinding systems, advertising, guidelines, logos, posters, notifications, alerts, and messages everywhere are all designed to help us, to guide us and to warn us. They all try to help us use services better. From right in the morning, as we turn off the alarm app, to the moment we put our mobile phones away to sleep, we are overwhelmed with information. It doesn’t stop. Not just the ads and the emails, but everything, all the time—the rich and constant flow of information flowing through our senses. If autistic people process everything they perceive around them as information, most of us don’t. We have built certain habits and mechanisms. Our brains have adapted to the situations around us. We have skills to surf this global tsunami of sensory information—nicely automated and active in the background of our brains, acting as our own private mental autopilot. Silently in the backstage, it filters and edits what matters and what doesn’t.

Today, designers have become experts at distinguishing the differences between what people say they do and what they actually do. As we’re often not aware of the decisions and trade-offs that our minds operate for us, interacting with services can quickly take a turn for the worse. In this global context, helping your users, your customers get what they want requires a certain level of skills in hacking these autopilot routines or sometimes leveraging them. This requires not only the ability to use well-known human patterns of behaviors but also knowing when to break them. This is the purpose of this book. A general body of knowledge aimed at doing just that. For anybody working in the service industry, this will guide you through the simple adjustments and tweaks you can make that will ease both your services and your users’ experiences.

Daniele will help your services reach beyond the objective and transactional reality of business and trade. As an expert service designer, with this course, he proposes to anchor your services on a solid and deep underlying structure of psychologically meaningful axioms. However – and that is all the genius of the author – he does it in the most accessible and ready-to-use way.

Pascal Wicht, Founder,
Strategic Designer at Whispers & Giants