Service Design meets (Social) CRM

This is part 2 in a short series on Service Design. I would recommend reading part 1 before reading this.

Recap: What is Service?

As I tried to explain a couple of days ago, I think Service Design is about designing for Service, not serviceS. Where I defined Services as:

Service is the personal sum of a Customer’s experiences in all her interactions, through touch-points, with the products and/or services of the company


in all her interactions with the relevant experiences of others, through or in the Customer’s (on-line) social networks

making up for the Customer’s perception of the value received and/or to be received from the company at any point in time.


I assume you all know that Touch-Points play an important role in thinking about and designing the Customer’s journey or experience. Service designers talk touch-points all the time (and I love them for it!). There is an excellent short post on the Frog Design Blog, where they listed a good overview of the wide variety of touch-points there are to consider. Like there are:

  • Product-based / Physical experiences (ATM machine, riding a bike, driving a car)
  • Social / Interpersonal experiences (internal employees, customer service, retail sales, etc)
  • Interactive experiences (on Twitter / Facebook, smartphone)
  • Traditional marketing experiences (TV, displays in Times Square, print collateral, direct response)

My critique on the list is that it seems like we are just talking “touches” and “experiences” as moments. There doesn’t seem to be consideration for the desire of companies to have long-term relationships with Customers.

Long term relationships are surely built upon great and shared experiences, but we all know that it makes a difference to us (as Customers) if we are doing business with you for a long time and our expectations are changing. We might go into a period of fatigue, or just reconsideration. And, most importantly, if we bought a product, it starts breaking up, and we might need to replace it sometime (soon).

Hence, we need to design for relationships with Customers too.

Relational Touch-points

Therefor I think Service Designers should also consider and encompass two “sets” of relational touch-points:

  1. Touch-points which are orchestrated not only in the sequence of an experience, designed to meet an outcome, but orchestrated to serve over a lifetime of experiences, as if there was a relationship between the Company and the Customer. As if we know and remember what happened over the course of our relationship and as if we know when we need to rejuvenate our relationship to make it last for a longer lifetime.
  2. Touch-points designed for Network Value, or in other words: designing relational touch-points that support, stimulate and foster Customer – Customer relationships. Because we know that networks grow stronger not by expanding and expanding alone, but more so by increasing the number and the strength of the ties between the network “members” .

To conclude today’s post: Service Design is not limited to services and should not be limited to designing one-off Customer Journey’s or experiences.

Customers perceive service and value over a lifetime of experiences through touch-points with the company AND with other actors in their (social) networks. Service Design should thus encompass both “sets” of relational touch-points in there designs too.

Service Design meets (Social) CRM.. What an interesting couple, don’t you think?

7 thoughts on “Service Design meets (Social) CRM

  1. Pingback: Top Five Customer Experience Links #5 | Deliver Bliss - The Business of Customer Experience

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  3. Wim, thanks for your post! I definetly agree on your critiquea dn thoughts. However, I think that most people who design services refer to touchpoints and the integration of (social) crm in the sense you do in this post. If you take a look at the customer journey canvas (, you clearly see that (imo) the customer journey includes all possible contact with a certain service or brand – including the pre-service and post-service period as well as crm, touchpoints via third parties and past experiences. Also, long-term relationships and respective regular customers are visualised in this model through the lines connecting the post-service with the pre-service period and thus referring to a repetitive service journey (i.e. service period of the customer journey).


    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for stopping by.. :) The intention of this post was not to critique Service Design, it was to make clear that Service Design as a discipline needs CRM and vice versa. I think you’ve said something similar in a comment to George Julian’s post, so I guess we’re on the same page. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      I also do like your canvas a lot. It indeed addresses the touch-points in the repetitive service journey. What it is not addressing, and those are key elements I believe, is the fact that we need to design the experiences with these touch-points with the memory of past experiences, or in other words: understand the full context of the Customer when arriving at the touch-point. I guess my arguments are more on the way we design the touch-points than on what touch-points we design..

      I’m btw not denying that there are service designers taking all the above into account. I know there are, regardless if they are designers or not. I do think we generally see too little of it in real life.

      Last, but not least, I’m also interested in your view on the scope of service design as I propose it in the first part of this short series.

      Thx again & looking forward to your reply.



      • Wim, thank you very much for your detailed reply and this great discussion!

        Let me start with the point you mentioned above before I refer to your earlier blog post. I agree completely with your point that service design and (social) crm are inseparably interconnected. I am also with you that the way we design touchpoints need to consider the full context, including the past experiences of customers as well as the social network of a customer. The purpose of the Customer Journey Canvas is to be able to quickly sketch also these connections between customers via social media and word-of-mouth. For more details, have a look at my chapters in #TiSDT “Five principles of service design thinking” (pp.34) and “The iterative process” (pp.122).

        More interesting (since here I do not entirely agree with you) is probably my answer to your first post. As you probably know, I certainly agree with your starting point of Service Dominant Logic and that service design should be ignorant of products and services. The fact that Jakob and I used service design thinking to develop #TiSDT – at the end of the day a quite physical product (though augmented by a website and community) – somewhat underlines this pretty well, I guess.

        Regarding the terminology of service, value and also experience, I agree that these are hard to define and to some extend always overlap. However, If I understood you right I have a slightly different perspective on service, since to me the term “service” is always connected to a certain company and/or brand and thus something a firm have somewhat control over – in terms of how to design processes, evidences, interactions, etc. The customer journey – as also value and (brand) experiences – are in my opinion a broader concept which includes also those touchpoints a company doesn’t have control over, such as wom and social media. Without a doubt the latter are a very important issue for customers and likewise for the company, since these are the touchpoints influencing mostly the purchase decision making process. Though, the customer is aware of the fact that these touchpoints are beyond the control of the respective firm and thus not included in the service offer. If I may use the concept of the Customer Journey Canvas once more, on the far left side the touchpoints clusters of the pre-service period are distinguished through “manipulability” by the company and “credibility” by the customer on the other hand, which illustrates this difference between service (touchpoints manipulable by a company) and the whole customer journey/experience (including third-party touchpoints). To conclude, I would define service based on your thoughts as follows – although I have concerns regarding definitions (especially when I come up with them in a foreign language).. :)

        “SERVICE is the personal sum of a customer’s experiences through all interactions and touchpoints with the products and/or services of a company.”

        And here is an attempt for a definition of the broader picture you referred to as service:

        “(Service/product/brand) EXPERIENCE is the personal sum of a customer’s experiences through all interactions and touchpoints with the products and/or services of a company AND through all interactions and touchpoints with the relevant experiences of others through the customer’s (on-line) social networks making up for the customer’s perception of the value received and/or to be received from the company at any point in time.”

        Again, please don’t consider these thoughts as a final statement from me. This is just what I am thinking right now. As you said this is also „somewhere between childhood and adolescence“ – just to spark a fine debate.


  4. Wim,

    How companies maintain and establish the ongoing relationship, even during fatigue will impact what they measure and how. A new relationship with a customer may require different types of support and feedback loops in order to nurture the relationship within the lifecycle than a more established relationship. I also wonder if nurturing that customer’s network or social footprint will also become important for long term engagement. Michael Maoz has a very interesting article “Could your best customer spend no money with you?” – about your client’s client becoming critical to the relationship.

    Great food for thought! Thanks very much for sharing!


    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thx for stopping by. And you hit the nail on the head with your conclusions. I also liked Michael’s post, although the theories on network & referral value have been established quite sometime ago. It’s good to see it’s catching on now, with the rise of online social networks. Interesting times & food for thought indeed!



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