'''Service Design''' is the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality, the interaction between service provider and customers and the customer's experience.
The increasing relevance of the service sector, both in terms of people empoyed and economic importance, requires services to be accurately designed. The design of the service may involve a re-organisation of the activities performed by the service provider (Back office) and/or the redesign of time and place in which customers come in contact with the service (Front office).
The development of service design
In the earliest contributions on service design (Shostack 1982; Shostack 1984), the activity of designing services was considered as part of the domain of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing marketing] and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Management management] disciplines. Shostack, for instance proposed the integrated design of material components (products) and immaterial components (services). This design process, according to Shostack, can be documented and codified using a “service [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blueprint blueprint]” to map the sequence of events in a service and its essential functions in an objective and explicit manner. Other relevant contribution to service design came from Ramaswamy (Ramaswamy 1996), Hollins (Hollins 1993) and Norman(Normann 2000). Norman work, in particular, focused on the active role customers have in a service, thus pointing out the importance of designing the moment of the interaction between service providers and their customers (“the moment of truth”). The relevance of such interaction is evident, when services are considered as an activity of “value Coproduction”, i.e. a process in which the production of value is not limited to the activity of the service provider, but is extended to a constellation of actors (producers, service providers, logistic companies and customers]. In this perspective Norman and Ramirez (Normann and Ramirez 1994) suggest a broad change in production processes, from [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_chain value chain] to value constellation.
The active participation of customers and other actors traditionally considered as external to a firm’s boundary emphasise the need for a proper design activity that organises the interaction among those actors, thus planning sequences of events, material and information flows. Furthermore the involvement of “non technical “ actors, such as customers, implies that the activity of service design be analysed not only from a functional perspective (with the aim of optimising flows and resources and reducing time of operations) but also from the emotional perspective (creating meaningful events, motivating customers, communicating the service). Because of those considerations service design became the focus of studies and research in the discipline of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design design], initially as part of the activities related to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Design web design] and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interaction_Design Interaction Design], and later as an autonomous professional and research area.

Characteristics of Service Design

Service design is the specification and construction of technologically networked social practices that deliver valuable capacities for action to a particular customer. Capacity for action in Information Services has the basic form of assertions. In Health Services, it has the basic form of diagnostic assessments and prescriptions (commands). In Educational Services, it has the form of a promise to produce a new capacity for the customer to make new promises. In a fundamental way, services are unambiguously tangible. Companies such as eBay, or collectives such as Wikipedia or Sourceforge are rich and sophisticated combinations of basic linguistic deliverables that expand customers' capacities to act and produce value for themselves and for others. In an abstract sense, services are networked intelligence.
Service design can be both tangible and intangible. It can involve artefacts and other things including communication, environment and behaviours.
Several authors (Eiglier 1977; Normann 2000; Morelli 2002), though, emphasise that, unlike products, which are created and “exist” before being purchased and used, service come to existence at the same moment they are being provided and used. While a designer can prescribe the exact configuration of a product, s/he cannot prescribe in the same way the result of the interaction between customers and service providers, nor can s/he prescribe the form and characteristics of any emotional value produced by the service.
Consequently, service design is an activity that suggests behavioural patterns or “scripts” to the actors interacting in the service, leaving a higher level of freedom to the customers’ behaviour.

Service design methodology

Together with the most traditional methods used for product design, service design requires methods and tools to control new elements of the design process, such as the time and the interaction between actors. For this reason the blueprint of a service is often based on use [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scenario scenarios] represented through [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storyboard storyboard] or [http://servicedesign.wikispaces.com/Use+Cases use cases].

Some Successful Cases of Service Design

Eiglier, P., Langeard,P (1977). Marketing Consumer Services: New Insights. Cambridge, Mass. Marketing Science Institute, 1977. 128 P.
Hollins, G., Hollins, Bill (1993). Total Design : Managing the design process in the service sector. London, Pitman.
Morelli, N. (2002). "Designing product/service systems. A methodological exploration." Design Issues 18(3): 3-17.
Normann, R. (2000). Service management : strategy and leadership in service business. Chichester ; New York, Wiley.
Normann, R. and R. Ramirez (1994). Desiging Interactive Strategy. From Value Chain to Value Constellation. New York, John Wiley and Sons.
Ramaswamy, R. (1996). Design and management of service processes. Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
Shostack, L. G. (1982). "How to Design a Service." European Journal of Marketing 16(1): 49-63.
Shostack, L. G. (1984). "Design Services that Deliver." Harvard Business Review(84115): 133-139.