Service designers believe services are like icebergs

Users often see a service as being a single entity. As a user, when I walk into a shop, I have contact with one brand. I don’t see that there several other departments 😵 within that company that keep this brand afloat. It’s as if customers see only the tip of an iceberg and have no clue that there is still much more going on below.

In service design, we call the visible part of the service the frontstage. The invisible part of the service is what we call the backstage.

Service designers believe that it’s this tension between the structure of the backstage and how users understand the frontstage that often creates frustrations 😢.

How companies build services

The problem is that the hidden part of the service iceberg is built in silos 💔. There is a department that takes care to attract people, which is the marketing department. Then there is a department that sells things to the people. And another department that deals with the queries of the users. 

The problem is that often these silos or departments don’t really communicate 🙊 with each other. This results in gaps between the different departments.

Such gaps between departments are something that many of us have experienced. An ad tells you something about a service or product. When you get to the shop, staff members tell you that the ad was a bit too optimistic. This often happens because the marketing guys in a company didn’t speak with the frontline staff 👨‍🔧.

These gaps between departments create frustrations 🤦‍♂️ for the users. Users believe they are interacting with one organization and not a group of departments that can't speak together.