A collection of thoughts, findings, and new things I’ve learnt about interaction design, creativity, content strategy, service design, psychology, innovation, and more.

Service design is like a makeover

I love “makeover” TV shows. It almost doesn’t matter what the thing being made over is. Restaurant makeover shows, like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, house makeovers, like Grand Designs or Fixer Upper. Cosmetic surgery makeover shows are jaw-dropping. I’ll even watch Pimp My Ride if I’m desperate.

But one of my favourites is the Mary Portas series, Queen of Shops, and a similar one she did called Secret Shopper. Last week I stumbled across a Queen of Shops episode on YouTube that I hadn’t seen before. It’s quite an old series, possibly launched around 2010? Anyway I’m watching it and suddenly realised, huh, she just service-designed that shop!

I’ve been interested in Service Design for a few years, so this year I enrolled in a 10-week course with Academy Xi to see if it’s something I’d like to do full-time. This move has given me a lot of practice explaining what SD is, but I won’t now because I want to share this video that does it really well:  

Now, back to Mary Portas. She takes a Design Thinking approach to the improvement process, which means looking at it from a human-centred perspective. She teaches business owners how to take an immersive approach to empathising with their customers wants, needs and desires.

In the episode I found on YouTube, linked above, she takes a couple of failing business owners to visit a chocolatier in a small English village. He’s nailing it, because he understands what the locals wants. He only sells one thing, and makes a huge profit on it. When they meet the chocolatier he explains:

I sat in a chair with a pad, and I noted down what people were wearing, what bags they had, where they were shopping. And that makes me really understand what they want. We noticed last year that people were wearing purple and gold, so we put gold leaf on our chocolates.

Mary’s a brilliantly creative businesswoman who has a no-nonsense approach to management and a huge heart. Her Secret Shopper series is on Netflix until the end of August.