Service Experience Camp 2015

21 January 2016
14 min read

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In an effort to better immerse myself in Service Design, I had the chance to go to the Service Experience Camp in Berlin from November 16-17, 2015. The theme was "struggling for(/with) change" and was not the standard lecture and workshop conference style. The conference, renamed as a camp, featured bar camps, which gave attendees a chance to pitch their own sessions (called bar camps). Attendees would go on stage and pitch their sessions, people would vote and attend, and were also allowed to leave the room at any time. It made for a more exciting experience because there was no sense of obligation and people were much more intrinsically motivated.

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Service Experience Trail

This was a different experience compared to any conference that I've been to but I think was one of the best parts of the whole experience. The day before the conference, some of the staff (basically student volunteers) led a Design Experience Trail. This was basically 4 places in Berlin that offered very different but creative service experiences. This not only got me thinking about service design in a different way but I loved the fact that we were talking about application of the concepts and not just talking about them abstractly (which is what happens at most conferences).

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We visited 4 different locations: Microsoft's Digital Eatery, The World of Tui, Ritter Sport, and Deutsche Bank.

Microsoft's Digital Eatery was an interesting blend of a cafe and a showroom. Initially it reminded me of Capital One's 360 Cafe in San Francisco. The Digital Eatery opened in September 2013 and was started as an initiative to get Microsoft products in front of Berlin-ers. Since Microsoft does not have a standalone store in Germany, it provided an opportunity for locals to play with the products before they choose to purchase them. The Digital Eatery also acts as the first point of contact for simple fixes for any Microsoft products as well. While we were there, they were advertising the Surface, Surface Pro, X Box, alongisde accessories (keyboards), Nokia products, and Fitbits.

The World of Tui is a travel agency that has turned around the way the do business in modern times. Apparently Tui used to have its hands in a lot of things but sold off a lot of it's businesses to become a 68,000 person company with 500 agencies in Germany that specializes in the tourism business (last 16 years). In the last four years, they have made strides in re-doing the entire service experience of buying travel from them by rebuilding about 20 physical locations a year. What used to be sale-specific, waiting-heavy, and old school, has now become a classy, quick, and enjoyable experience. With 75-80% of their travel sold within the walls of the physical locations, they went through major renovations at every flagship store. The location we went to had a bar inside amongs mid-centry modern interior deco and the staff only use notepads or tablets so that they can give their customers their full attention. THe intention of the redesign was that customers should begin experiencing their vacation from the moment they walk into a Tui store, not only when they get on the plane / boat for their vacation. While most of the customers are seemingly in the up-scale markets, the manager assured us that people from all walks of life use Tui. With about 10-15 people coming into the physical location a day, they make more than 10 million euros per year. Most of the time the service experience consists of the customer coming to the physical location and only emailing after to set the details, but Tui touches base with the customer 2-3 times a year once they've used them and also invites them to special events. While the modularity of the travel being booked sounds amazing (being able to customize each detail), they don't have a great system at tracking how their redesign has gone so far. Also with such a personalized experience (each Tui employee has a relationship with 50-60 customers), the continuity of the customer experience if an employee leaves is definitely lost. However the design overhaul is definitely admirable and with referrals between 60-65%, Tui continues to flourish as a travel agency.

Ritter Sport is a chocolate company out of Berlin. Ritter sport chocolates in America are usually pretty expensive (something about a chocolate tax?!) so I was definitely excited to go there. There were quite a few components to the entire experience. First off, you could start with making your own chocolate. It took 30 minutes for your chocolate to be made, but in the meantime you could experience the house chocolate (aka buy all the crazy varieties), visit the Cafe, or visit the mini Chocolate Museum upstairs. Ritter Sport also started offering classes for underprivileged kids to learn how to make chocolate, which evolved into adult classes learning how to make chocolate (with wine of course). While they started the classes in 2010 at this particular location, the classes originally started in 2005 in a store in the south of Germany. With 30 employees in the flagship, and 1300 in total in the company, Ritter Sport serves 1 million customers a year with 3 days of workshops. They have also done pop-up shops in Hamburg, and celebrated their 100th birthday in 2012. Ritter Sport's square chocolates originally started in 1932 when men had to put chocolates in sports jackets and didn't want weird rectangles sticking out. Ritter Sport was what the square chocolates were called, but since then the company has evolved to only making square chocolates and tweaking the name since the 1970s. The snap open-pack is also unique to Ritter Sport, making it easy to eat on the go.Ritter Sport, while definitely popular, is not the leading brand in Germany (Lindt is).

Mr. Ritter: "9 out of 10 people like chocolate. And that last person lied."

Deutsche Bank was the last of the places we visited and definitely very service and experience design rich. Deutsche Bank partners with different designers and companies every 3-4 months to let bank customers have a different experience when they walk into the bank. While we were there, the bank had partnered with Harrods (think the equivalent of Macy's). They had numerous touchpoints for customers:

  • Shopping at "Harrod's" while banking
    • Usually partners don't return but Harrod's comes every Christmas season
    • Deutsche Bank is also the only other retailer than can sell Harrod's merchandize
    • Usually partners bring things that are unique to Berlin (From different countries, example: Gucci)
    • Companies do not pay to partner with Deutsche Bank (they said that it helps actually promote Deutsche Bank so they don't charge)
    • Two curators work on who to actually partner with (usually there are 2 partners showcasing at a time)
    • No preferential pricing for Deutsche Bank customers
  • A beautiful window display to invite customers in
  • Self-service kiosks if you just wanted to withdraw your money from the ATM (has fingerprinting verification)
  • A concierge service (with printed recommendations that change every month - but these were in German!)
    • Feedback book at the concierge
    • Employee / attendant is assigned to the concierge
    • Came out of a need from tourists constantly asking for recommendations
    • Also provides a different daily experience for an employee
  • A large digital screen when you walk in to familiarize yourself with the staff in the bank
  • A full-scale lounge in the back (employees from around the area have lunch here)
  • Banking area with employees
    • Counters look different in the banking area so the customer can see the screen more easily (but they do have a privacy screen)
    • Open concept layout to increase trust
  • Private Consulting rooms
    • Each room is attributed for a certain age group (the decor is different inside but clients are asked which they prefer)
    • Each room has open tables and minimalistic furniture (printer inside the furniture)
    • Each room is soundproof and can be made more private with frosting
    • Each room is available to rent
  • Kids corner and a corner for pets
  • Customer lab
    • Customers can play with the online app, take surveys of their experiences, read the bank's newsletter, and apply for credit cards
    • This is an open area in the middle of the bank where you can also chat with employees and see what is going on

The location we went to in Berlin was the flagship location, but originally this opened 10 years ago (September 2005). The partnering with other institutions started 2 years ago. This particular branch has more clients than other branches and customers stay up to three times longer than in other branches. At one point, they had an initiative to use a "product box" that had brochures, with a wallet and vouchers to make their product more visible and tangible. However, they quickly learned that this was not feasible with terms and conditions and prices changing (not to mention the time, cost, and resources to make the product box). They have now switched over to a digital system (an online banking app), and 85% of customers currently use online banking. With that said, they goal of the entire redesign is to make customers stay longer than their bank appointment because of the environment that is created. The customer is treated not as a client but as a guest, and it's each employee's duty to make the guest feel welcome. As per each employee's experience, this gives sthem more variety in their daily routine. The employees are however required to standardize their attire (given 5 pieces of branded Deutsche bank clothing), with certain acceptances (shoes are owned by you but have to be dark).


Designing Public Services: A different approach
Louise Downe from Gov.UK

  • The Government is not meeting the needs of the users; what if the government was a platform?
  • When services are easier to make, we'll make more of them, not fewer.
  • We need a revolution, not evolution.
  • A four step process for reformation: Create GDS (Government Digital Services), Fix publishing, Fix transactions, Go wholesale
  • Insight: people used GDS to vote, carer's insurance (for old people with a pension), finding an apprenticeship, and making a lasting power of attorney; so how could they better utilize the website?
  • It was important to change the content on the website to "proper people speak"
  • 4 things that scaled to service design:
    • 1. Hired good people (
    • 2. Build the boring things that no one else wants to do
    • 3. Understand how services work on the internet (top content vs. trending content vs. top policies vs. top announcements)
    • 4. Learn by making (cross government services and better services standards)
    • 5. Don't give up (don't get tired!)
  • Working in government = service design + accessibility + changing outdated systems
  • Service failure will still be one of the biggest costs in government
    • 1. Manual processing (uses of paper and manual copy across systems)
    • 2. Unnecessary process (users completing the wrong transactions at the wrong time)
    • 3. User contact (users trying to use a service, complaint, or track something)
  • Good services are verbs, bad services are nouns.

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Making energy tangible: How an energy provider implements service design
Dr. Kristina Rodig from E.ON

  • Energy is a commodity market (electricity and gas are intangibles).
  • Touchpoints with customers are rare and not necessarily positive.
  • Cultural transformation possible with the open house and in-house training.
  • Co-creation through a shared understanding of process, roles, and ideas.

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Bar Camp
The Designer's Role in the Enterprise World
Marion Froehlich and Heike Van Geel (Designers from SAP)

  • Designing services is like opening Russian dolls (roles and responsibilities, time pressure, user interface, lack of automation, performance, data loss, business processes)
  • Challenge of enterprise software: creating a platform (and scaling that) vs. creating custom software
  • "It's not always about having empathy for your users but for your team."
  • "You need to develop a vocabulary alongside learning their language."
  • "You cannot design away lack of knowledge."
  • SAP does not have enforcement of a common design process.
  • Important to create a culture of innovation through investment in the people, process, and spaces.
  • It is very similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: (on bottom to top) Functional, Reliable, Usable, Pleasurable (take from Designing for Emotion by Aaron Walter)

Bar Camp
Data-Need Fit
Katrin Mathis

  • Only 4% of companies actually use data for new ventures.
  • Taking the business canvas model and making it fit our model for data.
  • It's important to map different kinds of data.
  • Kinds of data: external vs. internal.
  • Important to consider the people who are actually collecting the data no involved in the strategy.

Bar Camp
IoT Service Kit by Futurice
Dhyana Scarano and Christoph

  • Choose a scenario, choose the user, what are the sensors in the world
  • Look at what services can be used and what open city data can be used
  • This was a really cool probe for thinking about various scenarios with big data but the question remains: are we creating new services or learning how to put them together? How do we manage these services?


Bar camp
The Struggle with Culture Change for Design
Jan Schmiedgen from the Stanford Hasso-Platner Institute in IT Systems Engineering

  • There's a flow (building innovation capabilities, using design thinking, and changing mindsets) and we have to start everywhere simultaneously but small.
  • He developed a framework for building innovation capabilities (for DT maturity journeys): strategic intent, mindset, processes, and resources.
  • "We have to have empathy for ourselves."
  • Do we have change agents or change design teams.
  • Design managers have to set constraints, not goals -> they have to formulate the right problems.
  • For a lot of people design thinking is not real design thinking, it's "innovation tourism", and for others it's just user research techniques applied as a quick fix.
  • The core principles of delight: deeper customer journey, go broad and go narrow, rapid experiments with customers.
  • There is always a constant balance between strategy, people, structure, process, and rewards.
  • He introduced the concept of "Democratized innovation" at Intuit (as part of their "Design for Delight" program). It consisted of:
    • Unstructured time
    • 200 people innovation catalysts network
    • Rapid experiments, lean start-up-ing
    • Idea jams and innovation jams
    • Published a book of 30 stories about what happens at Intuit
    • Powerpoints are forbidden, all have to be interactive presentations
    • Locations have Innovation Walls of Fame
  • It is important to produce cultural hacks particular to each organization.

Customer's Experience: Mature vs. Emerging Markets
Luis Arnal

  • Just like in Minecraft, there are 4 dangers of survival mode
    • 1. A heterogenous ecosystem (economic, political, social and cultural differences such as intentionally creating a bad user experience)
    • 2. Value does not equal quality (make something work before you make it better; value lies in the eye of the beholder)
    • 3. Organizational systems need implementation (Make people think it's their idea and don't overestimate client's ability to implement)
    • 4. Pool support systems (Ideal experiences can't be implemented so be happy with sub-optimal solutions)
  • Law of Innovation Stability

Don't Start a company, start a movement
Arne van Oosterom



Home eat Home: Building a food service with Coca-cola
Fried Grobe-Dunker and Marius Swart

  • When running a start-up, focus on the founders first and the ideas second.
  • Synergies have a price tag.
  • Fail fast and learn faster.

How to scale energy services for the $2 per day society
Klara Lindner

  • An ugly prototype results in more honest feedback.
  • CrC = customers recommending customers
  • Service design can work on culture and tools.
  • Developing world has great potential for leapfrogging (can skip steps in between).

Bar Camp:
Designing Relationships
Linnea Vizard

  • How does the design of services impact relationships? Service provide frameworks and how we form relationships.
  • She did an environmental scan of what dating websites are out there; 30% of marriages start from online relationships.
  • "Algorithms making babies."
  • The Internet gives us a sense of abundance and choice
  • Layer of interpersonal connection is gone with technology; do these services care about end to end experiences?
  • Reference: Shirley Turkle
  • Can we look at relationships as a service? Intangible and tangible exchanges of value in a system.
  • "Relationships are the ultimate wicked problem."
  • We always have relationships, but we define the form (how, in what place, in what medium).
  • Just as the government protects its citizens, can we redesign relationship constructs (protecting property, ownership, etc)
  • What policies can we design for structures outside the norm?
  • Reference: Ayla Newhouse's Dating by Design (diamond of dating and relationship)
  • We broke down a relationship in our life using the relationship canvas (creating transparency).
  • Designer's dilemma: designers projectize everything (but should we?)
  • Reference: Hannah Fry's The Mathematics of Love


Another great cool experience was an "incubator" series that was also a bar camp where they asked slightly ridiculous but futuring questions to get us thinking how we could use service design in different ways.

  • What if you could use Photoshop on someone's skin?
  • What if your car gets hacked while it's self-driving?
  • What if an algorithm could dress you?
  • What if vegetables could talk to you?
  • What if you could send a fragrance to a friend in 1 sec?
  • What if your dog could pay with your credit card?
  • What if a swan could monitor water quality?

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Overall the conference was an amazing experience, with network walls, incubator series, bar camps, yummy food, emotion mapping and more. I would highly recommend it to others and it was very enlightening to speak to designers from all over the world!


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Another awesome day @ServiceExpCamp in Berlin #designingrelationships #barcamps #SXC15 #gedesign

A photo posted by Vinita Israni (@vinnyteee) on

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Other blog posts about SXC 2015: 1, 2



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