Eighteen months ago, while Google image searching, "Journey Maps," I landed on Mel Edwards' site, Desonance, and learned about a thing called Service Design. A rabbit's hole worth of internet research later, I knew I was on to something interesting and extremely applicable to what I was doing for work, Multichannel Customer Experience for a major US bank.
I bought This is Service Design Thinking and it became my constant companion, my "bible" according to coworkers. The more I read and learned about service design and the more I put it's principles into practice and the more I witnessed how the methodology uncovered issues and challenges we never would have been aware of, much less able to address, the more passionate I became about the importance of taking this approach to improving service experiences.
That was my apprenticeship, and it felt like a trial by fire at times. I was speaking a language no one else was speaking, about an experience that was sub-optimal, to the people who were responsible for that experience. My ideas were untested and unpopular. I felt very strongly that it was a path worth following, so kept on it; making the language more relevant, talking up what we were discovering with people more influential than me, showing the benefit through the discover, define, design and deploy approach.
People started to get it. We mapped the experiences that were really happening, not what was documented and immediately saw paths to real, meaningful improvement. Paths we wouldn't have been aware of without the interviews, research and workshops we conducted.
By Fall of 2011 I knew that this was what I wanted to be doing, and that I wasn't going to be able to gain the additional experience and expertise I desired in my current position. I wasn't sure what to do, though, as service design isn't really a "thing" yet in the US.
I joined groups and organizations dedicated to service design and began following practitioners and thinkers on Twitter. I started thinking about why I had become so passionate about what was essentially a business improvement methodology, what about it appealed to me on such a personal level. More on this later, but suffice to say, I thought about this a LOT.
By Summer 2012 I knew I had to make a change. I was dissatisfied with my corporate job. I wanted to be doing something more challenging, more engaging, more helpful. So I quit. And now I'm going to Europe to meet people who are using service design to help businesses and organizations improve their experiences. And then I'm coming back to the US to work as a service design teacher and consultant, evangelizing the multitude of benefits to efficiency, profitability, retention and culture; and trying to make services better, one transaction at a time.