The impact of Service Design

Service design and local governments, a perfect match

Since 2012, Studio Dott has built up an impressive portfolio of Service Design projects for the public sector. It's high time to take a look back.

We have collaborated with organizations such as VDAB, Toerisme Vlaanderen, Agentschap voor Innoveren en Ondernemen, Huis Van Het Nederlands Brussel, Vlaams Parlement, and local governments like Tienen, Schilde, Bornem, Herk-de-Stad, Olen, Hamme.

Service Design: What's That?

Service Design literally means 'designing services,' with a focus on people. And by 'people,' we mean broadly. It's not just about citizens, businesses, and associations who are customers of services but also the employees who provide the services every day. Is a 360 vision of the entire service.


Service Design is inherently co-creative. We involve employees, management, and politics in brainstorming, creating, and realizing innovations and optimizations. We start with the service needs of the customer and translate the vision of the future into a concrete action plan for the organization.

Determining, testing and adjusting by doing

The strength of Service Design lies in its iterative and comprehensive approach. There are solutions for every challenge, but which ones truly align with the culture and values of the local government? In a Service Design project, you don't first develop a complete 'battle plan,' but you translate a possible solution into concrete actions that the organization then tests. Through testing and adjustment, you can implement changes. This iterative process is fundamental to designing and design thinking, in general.

Service Design optimizes the flow of services

Service delivery consists of successive contact moments and interactions with the customer. This includes face-to-face contact as well as remote channels like phone, email, or chat. By mapping and streamlining all these moments, Service Design optimizes how service delivery operates. This creates a positive impact on the customer experience.

Service Design as a rock in the surf

The landscape of local governments has changed significantly in recent years: think, for example, of the merger of municipalities and OCMW (at some administrations, a forced marriage that has not yet been fully accepted everywhere). But also merger plans, intermunicipal collaborations, the digitization of services, cost savings, ... are all developments taking place within administrations.Unlike businesses, local governments can't work so much on their offering strategy. The fact that you have to issue driver's licenses, eIDs, permits, etc., is legally determined. What you can have an impact on is how service delivery operates and the relationship with the customer, which can be built and strengthened.And that's not a luxury because citizens, entrepreneurs, and other target groups are encountering new forms of service delivery. This creates new expectations, even for local governments. New 'best practices' are emerging: think of 'working by appointment,' 'fast counter,' expanding the e-service desk, new channels like 'chat,' ... Furthermore, local governments are also increasingly dealing with informed customers.The good news is that thanks to Service Design, you can tailor local service delivery to these new needs.

Smart service delivery in a smartly designed building

A new vision of service delivery goes hand in hand with a smart organization in a smartly designed building. Privacy and information security are crucial when providing services. And this applies not only to social services but also to the other services of a local government. Citizens often get lost easily within the walls of an administrative center. They may disturb the work of other employees or accidentally stand next to the printer that is printing sensitive information.Back- and front-office tasks taking place in the same space is a classic 'recipe for disaster,' which invariably leads to misunderstandings and frustrations among citizens. They feel they are not being helped immediately. Conversely, colleagues from the back office must be able to concentrate on their tasks, which is not always optimal with an irritated queue of citizens in front of them.

Therefore, a Service Design project is best carried out in conjunction with the development of a vision for the building and the layout of the administrative center, with the comfort of both citizens and employees in mind. Form follows function: first develop your service delivery vision and then translate it into a new layout and design for your building. This way, you can prevent a renewed or new building from not meeting the needs.That's what Studio Dott typically designs for its clients. We don't just want to create a 'beautiful' building. We want to create a building for local governments where the comfort of employees, citizens, and other users is central. A building that supports internal needs and works as it should. A building that makes you think... 'Yes, that's it, it fits.'

Creating a sense of ownership

Every adjustment to an existing way of working means change. To anchor it as smoothly as possible, we typically create a process where local governments quickly achieve their first successes through small optimizations and quick wins. Successes to which employees have actively contributed since they were part of the co-creation process. This creates lasting support.In addition, we, together with the administration and politics, develop a roadmap for the further steps to be taken. These can then be included in the multi-year planning. The roadmap ensures that the pace of change and how it is anchored can be digested by the organization in a healthy way. Creating a sense of ownership is essential for a successful Service Design project and is therefore embedded from the start of the process.

Take the future into your own hands!

Service Design is a positive trajectory in which local governments resolutely choose a smart future!

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