Product and service design: increases business competitiveness, creates more added value

According to Aurimas Želvys, Director of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA), technological innovations are not enough in the competitive environment – not only for start-ups, but also for small and medium-sized enterprises, and innovations in the business processes of client (consumer) needs are also crucial.
Design innovations, he says, help to attract new customers, create more value for them and reduce fixed costs, and the financial perspective is important when developing new prototypes of products and services.

According to the UK Design Council, product and service design solutions contribute to business growth, improve business export performance and increase turnover. It is likely that EUR 1 invested in design will generate at least EUR 20 more in financial returns, and an investment of EUR 1 in design can be expected to generate more than EUR 5 in increased financial export performance for businesses.
In Lithuania, it is still common to think of design as only fashion or product packaging design, which, when applied, makes them attractive to customers. The LBSA invited representatives of the Lithuanian Design Association for a discussion on the broader application of design as a non-technological innovation, and the benefits of design for business in the post-pandemic period.

In a competitive environment, the potential of design is comparable to Lean
‘Why are we talking about this? Not only because the LBSA is waiting for applications under the Creative Vouchers Covid-19 instrument, but also because we have a lot of experience from an administrative perspective, as we had several design-themed calls before the pandemic. We want to remind companies why it is relevant and worthwhile to invest in design’, said Aurimas Želvys, Head of LBSA, opening the discussion.

‘Design creates added value – it is one thing to produce nameless products, but another to produce products that have a name’, said Algirdas Orantas, chairman of the Lithuanian Design Association and designer. According to him, the potential of design tools is increasingly being discovered and is comparable to the implementation of Lean Management System (LEAN) practices in business enterprises.

Jonas Liugaila, board member of the Lithuanian Design Association and design strategist, pointed out that in many countries designers emphasise the value that design creates.

‘Each of us has many points of contact with design solutions – design speaks about the artificially created environment. Larger scales – architecture, smaller scales – the trade mark environment, even digital space is a solution created by designers’, he said.

Deividas Juozulynas, a member of the same association and an expert in service design, added that design increases competitiveness by creating unique objects and experiences.

Human-centred solutions

Želvys asked the interviewees in which sectors design by innovation is becoming more popular when thinking about post-pandemic innovative solutions that will help ensure success.

‘I think that the whole service sector, which had to react to the new circumstances, has to hurry up. Since human resources are available, design has started to turn towards people. This is probably one of the essences of design that companies can use by operating on design principles – we have to focus solutions on the person and their needs. What does that consumer want and how do we meet that need and get financial benefit from meeting it?’ said Juozulynas.

Many people understand product design as visible or tangible. The increasingly popular service or strategic design is intangible – it has to be systemic, operational, tactical.

‘Service design is one of the hot topics in Scandinavia and other European countries, and it is emerging here in a fragmented way in companies that are market leaders, that care about the user experience and how they deliver services. If their entire revenue is generated through services, then service design is at the heart of it’, Orantas remarked.

Service design projects change business processes

Service design expert Deividas Juozulynas shared a world-renowned example of service design implemented at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in Finland. This is where designers worked across the entire user journey from ticket purchase to departure, with a particular focus on security screening and queues.

'They calculated how long it would take to get through that queue with a certain number of people and wrote it down at the front of the queue. After all, if I'm in a hurry and I see a big queue, I start to worry. But if they tell me that I will be through the queue in a minute, I calm down and the experience is under control’, said Juozulynas. ‘Security screening is another challenge. Studies have shown that the speed of first-time travellers, older travellers, those with children or frequent travellers varies. Normally, everyone lines up and moves together, even though the speed is different. At Vantaa Airport, there are alcoves where everyone can put their things together at their own pace before queuing. They have achieved very good results. Studies have shown that every minute spent at security screening is equivalent to 70 cents not spent – the longer you queue, the less money you spend’.

Service design is an approach that balances the needs of consumers and businesses to create seamless, high-quality services and business sustainability. Users are exposed to design before, during and after the service.

According to Juozulynas, design is one of the ways to keep up with and be close to your customer, because if we forget their needs we will lose in the competition.

You can listen to the audio recording of the discussion here:


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