Designing services for customers: lessons from a 6 year old egg delivery boy

He likes money, my 6 year old son Romy. Or, at least the potential for money to awesome-ise his life. He soon realised his parents weren’t just going to give it to him. Now he’s discovering his inner entrepreneur.

Romy’s first foray into the world of business is a plan for local home egg delivery. Helping him design his services got me wondering:

how does someone who’s never read a business book or had advice, go about designing their services?

It’s not every day you have such a novice subject. Before I reflect on his service design, let’s look at Romy’s business proposal.

Hatching a business

Romy’s idea is good one: home-grown eggs delivered directly to neighbours. The goal is extra pocket money. It’s achievable because the model is part of our core business as we have experience with chooks and, broody hens aside, production will be mostly trouble-free. Also, it has low overheads, consistent customers, and good personnel in the form of an energetic delivery boy.

Chicken feed

That’s the idea, the goal and the model. What should Romy do next?

  • decide how many extra ‘layers’ he’ll need
  • how much grain
  • how and when to deliver the goods

These were Romy’s main concerns. His natural inclination was to solve production and service problems. In fact, he was ready to go out and buy some new chooks (ie. have me do it). Romy was interested in how it was going to work for him – which is valid but his first order hadn’t come in yet. He needed to get out and talk to some people.

Crack the egg

You may be thinking: “he’s only 6, he can’t be expected to think about anyone else, let alone potential customers.” Six year olds are narcissists I grant you. But his reaction tells us something about what’s at the top of our minds when we design services. Maybe many of us haven’t outgrown our inner 6 year old. The service design mindset begins by asking questions.

Romy and I started by brainstorming some questions:

  • are you interested in getting an egg delivery?
  • do you know anyone else who may be interested?
  • how many eggs would you like – 6 to 12?
  • how much would you spend per egg – 40c to 55c?
  • when would you like eggs delivered – Friday or Saturday?

With the results of this survey Romy can start servicing his customers. In a sense, his business didn’t exist until he asks those questions. Although these questions get you into the right service design mindset, they’re really just basic marketing. The next step is to bake the souffle; to deliver better customer experiences.

Baking the ‘customer experience’ souffle

Service design’s purpose is to make your customers’ experiences better. How your customers perceive their every interaction with your services is their customer experience. Romy can’t rest on his laurels – he has to build ‘asking questions’ into his business and provide his (profitable) customers the information they want. Romy needs to ask them about their egg delivery problems and priorities.

For example, the next survey could rank their concerns and he could provide a newsletter to address the main ones, such as:

  • report problems
  • get recipes
  • pay for eggs
  • change the number of eggs delivered
  • change the day eggs are delivered
  • have a break from ordering
  • give feedback
  • return egg cartons

Now that Romy has taken the first step in designing his services he can start to improve those services incrementally by focusing on his customers’ experiences.

So wish him well for the ongoing success of his business endeavour… you never know, you may work for him one day.