Archive for June, 2007

The New York Times has an article about Whole Foods grocery experimenting with a new arrangement for checkout at their Manhattan location. A Long Line for a Shorter Wait at the Supermarket details a move toward a single long line that feeds into individual checkout lines as they open, a little like a river delta. It leads to a shorter overall wait despite the counterintuitive appearance of the line.

Banks of course have used this sort of queuing for years. Harvard Business Review ran an article in 2003 called R&D Comes to Services that detailed Bank of America’s experiments managing perceived waiting time versus actual waiting time in their teller lines in Atlanta.

Fry’s Electronics is another company that uses this type of checkout. It’s unexpectedly annoying. I think it’s the presence of the line manager who directs you to the correct checkout line. Their line of registers is incredibly long but it still seems a little insulting that I can’t be trusted to discern on my own which is the next available register.

In a bank there’s a subtle interaction between you and the teller. It’s normally pretty clear which teller is wrapping up their transaction and, if you watch, all it takes is a shared nod for you to step forward to their window. Having that interaction mediated by a third party is the part that seems intrusive. Whole Food’s color-coded digital screen for communicating that information seems like it might solve the problem. Somehow a screen-based touchpoint seems less pushy.

Flipbook #8 [PDF 4.2MB] from an Interaction Design Fundamentals course at ITP focuses on Service Design, particularly the interplay between products and services. Lots of examples, including a diagram of the Jet Blue customer journey at JFK that I hadn’t seen before (pg 19).

There’s a nascent service design group over at Flickr started by San Francisco designer Aram Armstrong. The goal is to document tangible embodiments of services (touchpoints) and visual expressions of service design (service blueprints, stakeholder maps, customer journeys).

Aram was also apparently responsible for the fantastic bootlegs unofficial recordings of last year’s Emergence conference posted on the Emergence 2006 Flickr group.

Bill Moggridge’s 2006 book Designing Interactions includes a chapter on service design with some background on London service design consultancy Live|Work and their process. There’s a short interview [Quicktime 27MB] with founders Chris Downs, Lavrans Løvlie and Ben Reason still available online.

Peer Insight has another set of case studies out. This time for the Helsinki-based Tekes Serve Program. The 86-page report is titled Seizing the White Space: Innovative Service Concepts in the United States [PDF 3.8MB].

It’s a series of twelve service innovation case studies pulled from four industries: Insurance and Financial Services, Professional Services, Wholesale and Trade Retail, and Logistics.

  • The Hartford
  • Bank of America
  • MyBizHomepage
  • Crow Chizek and Company LLC
  • NineSigma
  • LRA Worldwide
  • Ingram Micro
  • Sitoa Corporation
  • American Girl
  • Total Quality Logistics
  • ServiceBench
  • Brivo Systems

Peer Insight again uses Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation framework relating to the Process, Offering, Delivery, and Finance capabilities of an organization. Here’s the summary of key findings.

The case studies reveal how service innovators go beyond the traditional types of innovation and explore the white space in their markets. That is, they look beyond the traditional competitive levers to uncover new ways to create value for customers. The analysis using the Ten Types of Innovation shows several new areas in which service companies are innovating–including the value network, the channel, and the business model–to create high-growth businesses. The most innovative firms in our research are skilled at (1) focusing on the white space that competitors have overlooked, (2) getting deep insight into customer needs in that white space, and (3) translating those needs into unique customer experiences.

There’s also some analysis of the ten types of innovation across a broader range of 100 companies from past research, particularly focusing on the different approaches taken by the most and least successful service innovators.