It’s Ireland’s time for Service Design

John Lynch
15 min readJan 13, 2020

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In short form, Service Design is the practice of improving “the experiences of both the user and employee by designing, aligning, and optimizing an organisation’s operations to better support customer journeys.” (definition from the Nielsen Norman group website). In the UK, Service Design is pervasive in both the private and public sector, while in New Zealand & Australia the public service has powered forward in learning from the UK experience. In Scandinavia, design has been a way of life for decades, from architecture, to furniture, to business practices, and yes, it includes services.

We can do better…

You don’t have to look far in Ireland to find stories of places where a little Service Design might have helped. The Public Services Card (imposed by stealth rather than engagement), hospital waiting lists, post office closures, rural broadband rollout, tracker mortgages, our banks in general, health insurance, buying a home, the planning process in our towns and cities… we have a lot of work to do!

Additionally the Irish public now have raised expectations for the services we experience in this country. This is appropriate, as Irish people note service experiences they’ve encountered abroad, as choice increases, and as digital services from global providers become available here.

If I’ve used a modern, people-centred banking service in London or Copenhagen (see Monzo and MobilePay), I will be frustrated and ultimately disloyal to any Irish bank that doesn’t meet my expectations.

Equally, if I’ve used a parking permit, voter registration, social welfare payment, or medical service while living or holidaying in a country where these things work excellently, of course I’m going to be angry and dismayed if I don’t have a similar experience when I return home to Ireland and these are not meeting the same standard.

The time for making excuses … “ah yeah, but this is Ireland”… is long gone. It’s time for Service Design to help our home-grown services meet the standard we should expect of a modern, thriving economy. We need to take an active role in designing and running the services we rightfully deserve. The good news is we can, there is a proven methodology for doing this, and it can actually save money in the long run.

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John Lynch

Design is my job. I'm Irish, ex Copenhagen/London, now back in Dublin. Founded Context Studio to improve life in Ireland through Service Design.