Here is the next post about Service Design. In the previous one, I gave you an example of bad, actually nonexistent, service design. In this one, I will talk about a perfect example of good Service Design.
Truth is that the business didn’t even know what Service Design is, but they did it right in the first place.
As you may remember from my previous post, I have spent a few days Santa Maria di Castellabbate. We decided to rent a boat to spend a day on the sea wandering around the coast.
Following a friend recommendation, we booked a day with Masaniello Tourist, a local business.
We met Nicola and his son Francesco at the hotel lobby, and the experienced looked great from the very beginning.
Nicola is a fantastic guy. He knows very well how to deal with his guests, possibly because of his previous experience in direct sales. We felt like we met an old friend.
He drove us to the marina where the boat was waiting for us. The story about the boat was fascinating. Nicola told us that he was leaving home to go to work in a day that had to be a ‘business as usual’ day. He’s a lucky guy, and to walk to his office he has to go through the marina. That morning had a surprise for him. An old local fisherman decided to retire and had put his fishing boat on sale. The “For sale” sign was just there for Nicola to notice it. He told us that as soon as he saw the sign he understood that he had to buy that boat and start the business he always dreamt about.
As you can imagine, he did buy that boat.
He had a very simple idea: he wanted to bring tourists on his boat and sell cruises around the coast giving the opportunity to have lunch with fresh fish meal on board.
Nice and neat, isn’t it?
Here comes Service Design.
He sat down and tried to imagine what kind of experience he wanted to deliver to his clients. He drew the first sketches of the service and gave shape to his ideas.
You will find below a few of the elements he was thinking about while designing his service:
- The cruise was set to last all day long, and he had to make sure that his guests would not have been burnt by the hot summer sun.
- The lunch had to be superb and strictly tied to the local traditions. Unfortunately, the ex-fish boat did not have a kitchen, and everything had to be prepared in advance.
- He needed to find a way to store the lunch during the morning leg of the trip without compromising the quality of the food.
- He wanted to find the best coast spots for his clients. Crowded spots could have been a problem and compromise the experience of the tour.
- The boat was small, and he wanted to give guests the maximum available space. At the same time, he wanted to serve lunch and a superb one. He needed to think about placing a table somewhere.
- He wanted to be engaging with guests and be able to talk about the area, the history, traditions, and food of the area they were visiting.
He had clear ideas. This is surprisingly uncommon even with big clients.
What surprised me is the approach he took to address these issues.
Nicola did extensive user research and to some respect design research. Again, he comes from a very different business and didn’t know anything about these disciplines.
He tested the menus and the wine list with his guest taking good note of their comments. He was also trying to understand how the food would look and taste after an entire morning on the boat. He used ice containers to preserve the freshness of the food, and he choose a menu that would not suffer about cold. His wife Sonia is a great cook, and she helped him in the process (e.g. ask a professional to do that kind of work you don’t have skills for).
The result was impressive. A fantastic fresh fish menu that could easily stand out in a great restaurant.
He built a shade tent to protect his guests from the sun. He conducted extensive research on materials, and he ended up selection a very peculiar type of tent. The tent was white and able to reflect sun rays while remaining completely cold.
The table was the next issue to address. A fixed table would have taken space on the boat and would have mad the entire space much less comfortable. He ended up designing a custom solution with a table he could mount just for lunch time. The design of a custom solution for the “lunch” touchpoint was a key success factor for his business.
Before starting his business, he wondered around the coast to identify the best spots, and selected a few of them with great care and attention. He understood that his guest might be willing to do some snorkeling, and he had all what was needed on the boat in the case you forgot something at the hotel.
At the very same time, he studied a lot about the history and legends of Cilento. The quality and properties of the food and some good story he could entertain his guest with.
Nicola has many talents. One of them is that he is a great entertainer. He is also able to leave space to his guest creating a perfect balance while on the boat.
We spent an entire day with him, and it was the best time we had during our vacation.
While we were on the boat, I made him a lot of questions about how he designed his business, and we ended up talking about my job. I said that we help companies improve user experience of their products and services. I said that we do exactly what he did while designing his service.
Verbatim from Nicola: “I don’t know much about service design. I just do what’s right for my clients.”
I was impressed by his statement. That’s the essence of service design: doing what is right for your users. It is as simple as that.
He probably does not know everything about the technicalities of what he was able to design but he actually conducted a perfect example of Service and Experience Design. He ended up with a perfect customer journey where all the touchpoints were well designed and integrated. At the very same time he was able to understand the importance of the social space and he has a very active Facebook page and Tripadvisor entry.
The impressive thing is that he also designed a product roadmap and he is now delivering cooking classes for those who want to learn how to cook local foods properly. He also recently added guided tours in the Cilento area with a minivan.
Again, he knows how to design an experience.
Nicola is a natural at Service Design!