"Service designers come from a variety of backgrounds, which is a great advantage. After 20 years in the world of work, someone may think that they are too old to study, but in this field, experience in other sectors is simply an asset.”
- Paula Laitio
- Service designer in Vere Design Oy.
- Graduated with a Master of Science in Automation Engineering from Aalto University and completed a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Innovative Digital Services of the Future, at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.
- Four years of work experience in the field.
Briefly explain what you do for a living.
I am a service designer at Vere Design. Our task is to help companies develop better services for their customers through design. Design thinking and design methods can be applied extensively to solve a variety of problems.
My job responsibilities are extensive, as at Vere Design, the job description of a service designer includes foresight, business development and service design. In practice, the tasks vary from planning and leading workshops to making offers for sale. We are a small company where all employees should know a little bit about everything.
How have you ended up in the profession of your choice?
I first graduated with a Master of Science degree and worked as an IT consultant. I noticed that, in my work, I was most interested in everything related to the interface between technology and people, such as the usability of services. When I took maternity leave for the second time, I yearned for a change in my career. First, I started looking for a solution in my earlier dreams: I applied to study physiotherapy and mathematics. At the same time, advertisements for various training programmes in service design appeared in my social media feed. When I familiarised myself with service design, I realised it combined everything that I expected from work. I just did not know how to put it in words before. I applied to Laurea University of Applied Sciences and was accepted as a student.
Describe your typical working day or week.
A typical working week starts with a team meeting on Monday. The day continues with documenting and visualising the outputs from a workshop in the previous week. Documentation means typing out handwritten material and crystallising the most important observations in the form of a Power Point presentation or similar.
On Tuesday, we prepare for a workshop that our corporate client has ordered from us. During the preparations, we agree on the objective of the workshop, the methods used, the schedule and the division of tasks. There are several methods, but we often use customer personas. In addition, working templates are drawn up and printed, which we call canvases. A canvas is a large paper with various boxes and questions that the workshop participants write their thoughts on.
There is a workshop on Wednesday, and then we go to the client’s premises or a meeting room booked elsewhere. The workshop consists of an introduction, working on the canvases either alone or in a group, and finally a summary of the event. The workshops usually take six hours including breaks.
On Thursday, I work on a customer research project, which means interviews conducted remotely. Our corporate clients can purchase a service related to improving their customer experience from us, which means that we collect customer experiences on the company’s services through interviews. Finally, we produce a report on the interviews for the corporate client, which may serve as a basis for future workshop work.
On Friday, we have a shorter remote workshop on the development of the corporate client’s website. We reflect on the different user needs and how they are implemented through various functions on the website. The end result can be a plan for what kind of elements the pages could consist of. In addition to these work duties, the rest of the day could include a meeting to launch a new project, or reviewing the results of the workshop with the customer. The work also includes different types of events and training, as well as making and reviewing offers of sale.
What kind of work environment or working hours do you work in?
I work in the office, at clients’ premises and remotely from home. I can decide for myself how much remote work I do, but sometimes we agree on specific days for meeting my colleagues at the office. As a rule, I work during office hours, but sometimes there are events in the evening. I travel about 2 to 3 days in a month.
What kind of competence or qualities are required in the profession?
In the profession of a service designer, interaction skills are essential, and the fact that you like to work with other people. A good eye for social situations is useful during interviews and similar. The work requires an analytical approach, as you need to be able to find the key elements in large masses of data. A good service designer is creative as it is important to see things from surprising perspectives and to be able to produce new ideas in order to create added value for customers.
Service designers should be keen on experimentation and be able to tolerate uncertainty, as the end result of the design can never be known in advance. Having a strong eye for visuals is an advantage in this work, as many methods are based on visuals. Curiosity and problem-solving skills are also needed.
What is the best thing about your profession?
I like to place myself in the position of different people and expand my own world view. Our customer projects are often like a plunge into a completely new world. Recently, we have had customers in the steel construction sector, which was previously an unknown sector to me.
It is inspiring to watch people understand things, find solutions to their problems and become enthusiastic about cooperation. I also like methodological development. This means that you are given a goal, you plan all the working stages and decide how to achieve the goal. We have a really nice work community, so working with my colleagues brings many moments of joy and success.
What are the downsides of the profession or what seems challenging?
There is certainly always a great deal of urgency in the field of consultancy. Sometimes it is quieter. Sometimes we are in a hurry, particularly when several workshops land in the same week. Sometimes the workload can be difficult to predict. Customers can often also have urgent needs. This type of unpredictability does not necessarily suit everyone, but I enjoy a slightly more hectic pace of work.
In some of my previous positions, the organisations have been slightly more unfamiliar with service design, and I have had to spend more time explaining what service design is about and how it can be utilised. I greatly appreciate my current job, because service design is a passion for everyone here.
What would you tell a person considering the profession of a service designer?
Service designers come from a variety of backgrounds, which is a great advantage. After 20 years in the world of work, some people may think that they are too old to study, but in this field, experience in other sectors is simply an asset. In fact, I think that it can be challenging to train as a service designer straight after general upper secondary school, as service design is a very comprehensive field.
It is good to be aware that design is trendy at the moment. Many different jobs are marketed under the name design, and there is no clear framework for what you will do as a service designer. Sometimes I see job postings in which the content of the work does not correspond to design thinking at all.
How do you see the future of your profession?
I believe that design is the future, and the role of design will continue to grow in society. I hope that design thinking will also be strengthened in the management of organisations and that design thinking will become part of everyday work for everyone. Perhaps then, the role of an educator will be emphasised in the work of more experienced designers.
Technological development will certainly affect the future of design, as there will be more digital solutions that facilitate design. The ability to combine foresight and design will be essential in the future, as the world is changing so quickly that it is necessary to look further ahead than the upcoming year. The theme of responsibility is likely to remain popular in the future, and services will be developed more from the perspective of responsibility.