top of page
Typical situations5.png

Case examples of service innovation



Quiet books


Self-employed woman supported by family members, Ana, has found her passion in the elaboration of interactive quiet books for young children. She comes up with their themes and designs. Ana runs an Instagram page where she shows her work. The page also functions as a channel for communication with her clients and a marketplace for selling the quiet books. For the past few months, her sales have remained relatively stable with occasional ups and downs.

Ana has noticed that usually, after gaining momentum with her sales, there comes a period of a drop in sales. Since Ana has the potential to produce more quiet books she would like to upscale her business and identify opportunities for product diversification and growth. To help her with this, Ana’s sister who has specialised in marketing, offers to help her in the journey so that she can learn more about her customers’ needs.

How service design process model and which tools can be used to tackle this issue with given tools

The first step for Ana was to cruise the problem area. In order to identify the problem at hand she decided to collect and analyse customer feedback. Ana created a small survey that she posted on her Instagram page and sent out to her customers. The feedback she received helped her explore what customers needed further. It turned out the clients were happy with Ana’s work but they were usually content with buying one product, especially due to the financial crisis.

The next step for Ana was to investigate the problem to gain a better understanding of it. Her sister suggests creating an empathy map. Before starting with the empathy map, Ana’s sister asks her to describe her typical client. She needs to create a persona that will be placed at the center of the empathy map. As a source of information, Ana again turns to her Instagram page. She investigates her followers, checks their comments as well as her communication with them. She notices that usually communication happens later in the evenings and early in the mornings. The empathy map helps Ana understand her customers better: they are usually busy women (mothers) who are active on social media.

Ana finds out that she could increase her digital presence by joining mothers’ groups on social media where she could promote her products better and through which she could gain a better understanding of the needs of her clients. The other type of groups she joined were ones dedicated to early children’s development. Those groups turned out to be a source of inspiration for other products she could add to her portfolio.

Ana decided to organise an online brainstorming session with her followers to generate ideas for product diversification. At this stage, Ana created rapid prototypes of rag dolls and active toys. She then introduced the prototypes to a group of friends (mothers of small children). On the basis of their comments Ana and her sister created a feedback map that helped Ana focus on the introduction of 2 add-ons to her business – a rag doll and a handmade active ball.


A visual description of the process




Local Library


A small community library of a municipality.

The local library was used very little. Most of the time it was empty as people did not go there. A higher level of library usage and its services was needed.

How service design process model and which tools can be used to tackle this issue with given tools


Librarians sent reports to the municipality showing that people do not use the local library or use it very little. As the data and use level reports showed, most of the time the library is empty. Consequently, the manager of the library was asked to solve this problem by increasing the usability of the library. First, there were assumptions that maybe the library should organise more events or hold with sales to attract potential customers, but the manager suggested to instead ask people, the users and potential users of the library, what role they see for the library. This kicked-off research on the topic.

The research activity started with customer/user research. Surveys were conducted by an online questionnaire and interviews were conducted by volunteers. The research revealed that the needs of the library users were different from the assumptions. Both elder and younger library users, saw the library as a place for relaxation and wanted to come to the library to read and have quiet time. Young people also wanted Internet access to the library, so that they could find appropriate books or materials, and use them partly on-line.

The research results were used as the starting point for ideation. The development team brainstormed different ideas and used an inspiration board to guide them in brainstorming. The ideas focused on a functioning website and a user-friendly library interior where one could read a book. The ideas were developed into prototypes.

Usability testing of the prototypes was conducted with current and potential library users. This took place at the library and online for the new website solutions. Having received the results and improved the developed solutions based on them, the new premises and website were finalised and follow-up activities were developed to monitor them.


A visual description of the process




Madame Peach- fruit entertainer, drama actress and comedienne, facilitator


Sole trader. No scope for any employees or sub-contracting.

Madame Peach is a sole trader working alone with no employees. As a sole trader Madame Peach has to conduct all aspects of her business, planning, staging, administration, phoning, e-mailing, finance and liaising with customers. She is earning an adequate salary, but she is not earning enough to employ anyone else. As much of her work involves an element of her individual ’performance’, she is facing challenges about scaling up, growing, and adapting her business to be more profitable.

Many of the events are held outdoors and are seasonal, related to summer weather. Indoor children’s parties could not take place during Covid. Her adult hen and stag parties are popular, but she is limited to how any she can do as they are often in the evening, and she is unable to do more than two per month. These issues have really made her think about innovating to develop a broader suite of elements to her fruit-related offer, to be less reliant on her as an individual as the ‘main offer’ in the business and to reflect on whether personal delivery is viable and sustainable given the energy and travel time it takes. Ideally, she would like more passive income streams to help her earn an income during the winter. Rising costs are also making her consider the cost of staging parties with fresh fruit; she might have to consider increasing event prices.

How service design process model and which tools can be used to tackle this issue with given tools


Madame Peach got her friend, a business student, to run a focus group session with customers and from this discussion a persona buyer was developed.

This was undertaken to understand the unique needs of buyers. From discussions the customer requests, feelings, perceptions of the experience buying Madame Peach’s service and their exploration of what they wanted further, which was not currently provided, was explored.

This led Madame Peach to design a few add-ons to her business such as a colouring book, which could be purchased. She is also working on two story books, a curated set of branded art materials and is investigating commissioning the design of a fruit-related app for a game which she could sell online. She also streamlined her booking process to an online version as customers were digitally savvy and se could abandon her paper process. This also saved her time.


A visual description of the process



De Bruir ‘Aviator Haus’


De Bruir is an individual craftsperson business. The core business is handmade leather bags made in a self-designed atelier.

Garvan De Bruir, a leatherwork and woodwork craftsperson, built his first curved shell workshop years ago based on his traditional woodworking knowledge and core cabinet making skills.  He wanted to do something with his architectural design. This will be a foray into a new business area.

His challenges include the amount of time it takes him to work through his ideas and then work with materials to develop prototypes and his lack of familiarity working in the pre-fab architecture sector. He needed help to choose his most viable ideas as well as with starting-up and scaling this business idea. Garvan had many ideas but structuring his building design into a business was a challenge.

How service design process model and which tools can be used to tackle this issue with given tools


Garvan participated in several workshops in which he was given design methodology structure tools to innovate and make decisions around which ideas to pursue, which ideas are economically viable, and which ideas suit the business in terms of how he wants it to develop strategically.

The ideation phase and slow evolution of material technology developed from there and it has become a potential business venture in itself. It only over time came to fruition as a full house design for an essentially prefabricated building.

The workshop programme utilized strategic design, an approach that works especially well for creative people because it is a very visual process. The programme helps craft sector SMEs develop a viable business model that can grow, scale and adapt to change.

Strategic design puts people and their drivers and motivation at the center of the process. The process involves mapping a lot of complex data around the business ecosystem. It helps to create a shared context and means to communicate among people in the eco system, including funders.

In the workshops, Garvan had the opportunity to step outside everyday rushing and firefighting and making and doing and critically analyse the business and map it in a visual way and build on the opportunities and then action them into very specific road-mapping applications.

Garvan was taken through a 4-step process mapping, ideating and evaluating to provide clarity for his objectives and strategic aims.

In order to commercialize his innovative architecture design, it was necessary to scale back and start with a minimum viable product, then map the build, map the methodology of the build technique, map the final concept design and the costs. Garvan can now leverage into scaling a commercial entity and collaboration with various partners.


A visual description of the process




The next generation scarves


A scarf design and producing micro size company employing 2 people, the founders of the company.

Alba and Anders have been designing and producing painted and printed scarves as a side business to their daily work, and selling the scarves at regional art museums and in the local tourist shop and handicraft shop. The designs and the scarves have been highly appreciated, but the activity has been slow. However, it is time to retire. Fortunately their daughter, Sara, will move back and take over their business. It is time for a generational change and to rethink the business activity. She needs to think big because, besides wanting to conserve the tradition, she is leaving her job for this, and has to provide for her family.

How service design process model and which tools can be used to tackle this issue with given tools


At the very beginning, Sara wants to get an overview of everything. She sits down with her parents and starts to detail and write down all aspects of their business, products and the services. She writes notes on sticky notes and categorised these. She wants to focus well on the very first part as she needs to understand everything well. Then she creates customer journey maps of the existing services, and goes on a service safari of different services. In addition, she conducts media-trend and desk research, and drafts an opportunity mind map of what she has learnt. She lists different areas to investigate further, but chooses the first one to continue with, how the scarves are delivered to the customer and what the company’s image is. She creates a design brief of this, leaving the other challenges for later.

With the design brief in her hand, Sara starts to research more to gain insight into the customer delivery service. She creates a preliminary service blueprint to understand what is done on their side, and later if the service delivery matches the customer needs, conducts empathy and image interviews to learn more about what customers think and what kind of images are linked to the service, and creates a stakeholder map to understand the stakeholders related to the service. A lot is revealed, but the two main findings that she focuses on first are that potential customers interested in scarves do not know where to find them, which means losing potential customers at the beginning of the process, and that the service delivery is old-fashioned requiring a technical, logistic, and image facelift.

She starts generating ideas by creating 5 different customer and potential customer personas. These will help her with ideation. Then she takes the preliminary service blueprint and customer journey, that was created earlier, and starts generating new ideas by using SCAMPER and launching a crowdsourcing campaign online about ideas for an ideal scarf customer service. Once ready, she has a look at the outcomes and then uses the Must have, Should have, Could have, Mustn’t have (MoSCoW) tool to think of ideas for what the service could be like at different times.

She takes the ideas and presents them to a selected group of customers, potential customers, friends, and her parents. They all vote for their preferences with dot-sticking. Sara creates concepts of the selected ideas which once again are evaluated by customers and potential customers, but by a different group this time. Finally a service prototype, as a service prototype blueprint, is created of the selected concept and brought to testing.

Testing is conducted with customers and other people, first as usability testing and then as touchpoint analysis and piloting the concept. An evaluation matrix is used to analyse the testing results. The service process is finalised with an implementation roadmap. A feedback map to collect up-to-date information and a Touchpoint follow-up evaluation are used to monitor the service quality after the launch of the service.


A visual description of the process

bottom of page