5 minutes

A new generation of inclusive, relational and connective services

An in-depth look at which project drivers should be used to design new services for the post-pandemic.

The pandemic has changed our behaviour with unprecedented speed. Two years on – as designers – we are observing how these transforma­tions are meant to last. We need a new awareness if we want to under­stand them. The new ways of acting, in a changed context, have brought out needs that require new planning scenarios. Because, moreover, it all happened at a time when we all felt more fragile and in danger. Starting from these assumptions it is worth trying to identify various drivers shaping new dimensions of service.

The first driver: new forms of flexibility

The first driver is functional. It concerns new forms of flexibility and is an enabler. If it is not present, the service is now inaccessible.

During the acute phase of the pandemic, we needed to plan how to travel to work, leisure or sales environments. Everyone will have found themselves making a phone call, searching for information, download­ing apps to book something that until recently was free to access. Out of these frustrating limitations, new potentials emerged. Brands and organisations offered booking services to cut queues to zero, or chat systems that – from home – put us in touch with a store assistant who used welcome us to the store. Forms of adaptation that, today, are being consolidated into new models and that they are not limited to digital. For example, hospital drive-through services created to provide screen­ing in the safety of our own cars, have inspired new forms of cultural enjoyment, such as the ‘Boijmans Ahoy Drive-Thru’ experience at the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam..

The second driver: new levels of personalization and care

The second driver is relational. It’s about new levels of personalisation and care. It is a differentiating factor and guides choices.

Many services that, pre-pandemic, belonged to the premium bracket have been democratised. For example, home deliveries or personalised consultations by appointment have extended their reach. We’re not just referring to food delivery. Home laundry services have been made available (through platforms like StirApp) and even test drives at home. This dynamic involves the big brands and has also transformed the re­lationship with the neighbourhood. We have seen the rebirth of neigh­bourhood businesses which, by connecting to digital, are acquiring new competitive leverage. They make it possible to reach people’s homes faster than large retailers, establishing a more substantial relationship than competitors without a physical location.

Third driver: new forms of inclusion and dialogue

The third driver is connective . It is about new forms of inclusion and dialogue. It is the factor of sense making.

Organizzazioni e brand hanno sempre di più la necessità di entrare in contatto con reti di persone, ovunque si trovino. Tanto in luoghi Organisations and brands increasingly need to connect with networks of people, wherever they are. As much in physical places as in digital. To spread values, cul­ture and establish an ongoing conversation. It is a form of enrichment that helps make people feel not just customers but also part of a com­munity. Therefore, brands have been enhancing their content offerings to make people discover and enable new behaviours. Not only that: if we think about the spread of hybrid environments such as augmented reality or the multiverse, it has become even more important to educate and explain why this new point of contact exists. So global events such as the Ikea Festival, a 24-hour event in which the Swedish brand offered an experience and a performance-focused on ‘better living at home’, are becoming increasingly frequent.

There is more. The Covid-19 emergency has challenged the delicate balance between individuals and communities. We have rediscovered how our buying habits and actions impact the community. Even the most minor action has larger-scale effects, reverberating across the en­tire planet. This applies to our daily lives, the organisation in which we believe work, and our planet. Just think of how the 2020 lockdowns re­duced our ecological footprint on the planet, moving Earth Overshoot Day forward by about three weeks. A temporary change, sure, but one that made a possible improvement perceptible and measurable.

Fourth driver: positive impacts

That’s why the fourth driveris transversal. And it’s about positive impacts.

The pandemic has taught us the importance of individual and collective well-being and, therefore to work on a dimension of service that helps improve society and the surrounding environment. Today it is no longer enough for people to buy something useful/eco­nomical/appealing. It is important to know how our choices contrib­ute positively to the fragile ecosystem around us. This is something we cannot achieve by a purpose-driven service promise alone. We need to build alliances and federations, feeding networks where brands look after the whole lifecycle of products/services/platforms: from creation on demand to new forms of regeneration, such as upcycling or collab­orative consumption.

Article by Alice Manzoni, Senior Manager Design & Design Coordinator Logotel – Published on Weconomy 15 – Ufo. Unidentified Future Organizations