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Satisfying customers drives design advances

Service Design Era: Second in two-part series

Jan 12,2010
Gilbarco, a fuel equipment provider in the U.S., designed a Y-shaped gas pump with a touch-screen pad to provide easier self-service for customers. [JoongAng Ilbo]
U.S.-based Ideo is the world’s largest design firm with 500 employees. Kraft Foods Inc. asked it to help keep customers happy in the early 2000s.

According to a survey by Kraft, customers couldn’t find the flavors of Capri Sun juice drink they wanted.

It turns out, the stockroom workers at grocery stores had the same problem.

Because the drink comes in a variety of flavors, the workers had to dig through an entire shipment of Capri Sun to find the flavor they wanted to put on the shelf.

Ideo designers created a supply chain in which flavors are stored vertically in “chimney stacks” so stock room workers could quickly find and reach any flavor that ran out.

The new system was applied to all Kraft products in 2006, and total company sales rose by 162 percent.

“The end goal for design is to provide customer convenience,” Innodesign CEO Kim Young-se said. “[The industry] is undergoing an evolution. Companies’ services and product designs change at the same time.”

Kim Young-min, a CEO of Design Continuum Korea, Inc., agreed.

“Product design used to account for 80 percent of companies’ requests,” he said. “Now it has declined to about one-third of our total business. Design strategies and improving brands and services are becoming more important.”

Ideo designers also undertook a renewal project for TownePlace Suites, an extended-stay hotel by Marriott.

They changed the hotel’s lobby to make guests feel at home and renovated hotel rooms to create suites.

Moreover, they developed a bulletin board with restaurant recommendations by hotel guests and a snack bar offering healthy refreshments and light meals.

Livework, a U.K.-based service design firm, has improved services at Streetcar, a car-share company in which customers can rent cars by the hour or for up to six months.

The cars are parked in various places around London, and customers access them using key cards.

Livework reorganized Streetcar’s Web site and simplified its user’s guide into four easy steps.

GE Money Bank, in partnership with Ideo designers, renovated customer services at banks in the Czech Republic.

Now, instead of standing in line waiting for a turn at the counter, customers are given a number at so-called Welcome Desks when they come in to the bank.

They can then sit and wait for their number to be served.

Engine, another service design consultancy in the U.K., redesigned terminals at London’s Heathrow Airport, making it easier for passengers to find their way around.

HLB, a U.S.-based service design firm, helped Gilbarco, which provides gas pumps and other fuel-related accessories to convenience stores, improve gas station designs.

The customized stations have longer fuel hoses that make it easier for customers to pump their own gas.

Its Y-shaped gas pump also glows in the dark.

By Choi Ji-young [jyj222@joongang.co.kr]







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