21 octobre 2020

Replay: our talk with Lou Downe

On 15 September 2020, we interviewed Lou Downe, the former Design Director for the UK Government and the author of the book “Good Services”. Lou has been named one of the 100 most influential people in digital government, highlighting their pioneering integration of service design within the UK government. Lou’s prominent position and experience have enabled them to form firm beliefs about what makes a good service for end-users.

par Alexis Magaud

Whereas most books on service design focus on methodology or design tools (subjects which are mainly reserved for specialists), Good Services stands out for trying to describe what a good service looks like, through 15 principles. 

While each of these are debatable in substance, this book reminds us of an essential point: in order to design a service that is meaningful to its users, we must first of all agree on what we understand by a “quality service” and describe the features of the experience we want to provide. Otherwise, we risk designing a service that is based more on technical and organisational constraints of the service provider, rather than the goal of making the experience desirable to users.

This is why we decided to interview Lou Downe, the author of Good Services, with Matthew Marino, co-founder of User Studio and our partner in service design thinking, Caroline Kermarrec, service designer at MAIF. You can watch this interview here 📽️:

What we talked about

By explaining their journey (05:53) and particularly their career working for the British Government, they questioned the fact that some services are very badly designed (15:33 ). Through the example of an American loan agency, Lou shows that this loan agency’s rule to process all incoming calls in only 7 minutes is a bad service that can even "ruin lives".

53% of calls are about how to fill in a form or get a passport

The cost of bad service is also much higher than good service, as demonstrated by examples from their former job in the UK Government: "53% of calls are to check how to do something" (19:27).

But how do we design a good service? Lou Downe asks.

“Firstly, you need to understand your service and make it user centred”. Obvious? Maybe, but what makes a huge difference is that Lou tells us in a straightforward and practical way how to implement this with 15 principles of good service design (22:21). 

The author also goes on to detail two of them: “changing the name of your service to make it more findable” (29:38) and “encouraging the right behaviours from users” (32:54).

At the end of the interview, Caroline and Matthew asked Lou some questions (39:10) and they discussed the scaling up of design in business, among other issues, ending the interview with a simple and effective definition of service design (51:40).

Lou advises using verbs to name your so that it can be found easily

Summing up these 15 principles

And of course, the notorious list of 15 principles by Lou Down to design a good service:

  1. Good services are easy to find
  2. Good services clearly explain the purpose of your service
  3. Good services must set the expectations a user has of your service
  4. Good services enable each user to complete the outcome they set out to do 
  5. Good services must work in a way that is familiar
  6. Good services should not work in a way that assumes any prior knowledge from the user
  7. Good services are agnostic of organisational structures 
  8. Good services require the minimum possible steps to complete the outcome that they’re trying to achieve
  9. Good services are consistent throughout
  10. Good services should have no dead ends
  11. Good services should be usable by everyone, equally
  12. Good services encourage the right behaviours from users and service providers 
  13. Good services respond to change quickly
  14. Good services clearly explain why a decision has been made
  15. Good services make it easy to get human assistance

So many basic principles that deserve to be detailed in a longer article (available soon on our blog)… or in Lou Downe's book "Good Services" available here 📚 : https://good.services/

Good Services : Decoding the Mystery of What Makes a Good Service - Lou Downe, 2020