Building Processes Is Key to Effective Hospitality Service Design

June 04, 2020 •

5 min reading

Service design and delivery process: 4 success factors

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An efficient and effective Service design helps businesses work toward the goal of service excellence. A good way to understand and define it is by reversing the words –“Designing the Service”. It involves the planning and organizing of many internal factors that finally make up the delivery of service to the end customer.

Creating service design and delivery processes enables those in the service industry to establish a baseline in order to provide consistent service to the customer and builds up a systematic mechanism that not only ensures a better experience to the customer, but also allows organizations to understand what is working for them and what is not in terms of their service delivery.

Processes form an integral part of service design components, along with people and products. People and Product (also called props) have a role to play in the creation and execution of service design, but in this article we will focus on Processes as a part of Service Design.

What Are Processes Involved in Service Design and Delivery?

What is an example of service design processes? At a restaurant, processes would include as taking orders, entering orders, serving food, c At a retail store, processes would include stacking of products, billing, inventory, guiding a customer. At a bank, processes would include verification of details, handing over cash and so on

Actions take place either when a service is carried out or in order to support the service. Processes may involve only the employee, or both the employee and the customer. In other words, some processes are behind the scenes and some takes center stage.

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Why Is it Important to Build Service Processes?

A service can be carried out without specific, laid-out processes or with vague processes. However, in these cases, the inevitable result is that the outcome will be inconsistent and potentially sub-par, creating low or variable customer satisfaction.

By creating clear, specific processes that incorporate every part of a service, organizations establish a guideline to ensure consistency in service, meeting customer expectations and creating satisfaction. At EHL Advisory Services, we work closely with organizations and assist them in designing their customized – “Book of Hospitality”, a one-stop shop that documents the “what to do” and “how to do” for all possible customer touchpoints as well as back end processes.


4 Success Factors when Building Service Design and Delivery Process

1. Focus on the Customer

Look at this from the point of view of the customer. Even before you decide to pen down your processes, the first thing that needs to be mapped out is the Customer Journey – what are the various touchpoints that a customer may have while interacting with your organization in order to experience the product/service.

The idea is to consider the customer journey throughout the service, with a focus on customer needs and expectations during this journey. The processes should focus on adding value without being unnecessary or overly complicated.

  • Look for pain points within the customer’s journey and think of ways to making improvements to the experience.
  • Look to the parts of the process that may be interfering with the satisfaction of the entire experience.
  • Consider asking for customer feedback to narrow down pain points
  • When establishing processes in terms of the “what to do” and “how to do”, you may use the SERVQUAL model – an empiric model designed by Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry to understand customer expectations before translating them into service quality specifications or processes.
Discover THE Service Excellence Guide:
from Service Design to Service Recovery

2. Consider the Sequence

When determining the customer’s journey and all the steps it takes to carry out the service, consider the sequence. The service involves steps that are connected and performed in order. It’s important to detail that and include it within the process.

So, instead of simply listing steps that make up the process, list them in order and how they are handed off from one member of the team to the next. For instance, a process in a restaurant could specify:

  • Welcoming, greeting and seating the customer
  • Introduction of server and the menu/specials of the day
  • Taking the order
  • Serving the order
  • Taking feedback/asking for repeats
  • Clearing the order
  • Billing
  • Farewell

Creating an effective process includes laying out the steps that make up a service. It may involve adding steps, but it should also include taking away actions that don’t add value or that detract from the value of the customer experience. For example, an action that makes a guest jump through an unnecessary hoop should be removed to improve the experience. Also, take away actions that make carrying out the service more difficult for staff members. The process should focus on simplicity and only what is necessary.

3. Consider Each Staff Role Within the Service

Executing each service effectively depends on numerous roles within the organization, both front stage and backstage. It's essential to determine which role is responsible for which part of the service, and how that role should carry out that part. Giving each role a specific part of the process creates ownership within that role, as well as responsibility for carrying it out and accountability for that stage of the process.

Since carrying out a service involves a number of different roles, it can be extremely beneficial to get feedback on processes from the team members in those roles. This includes different levels of staff members, and those who are front stage as well as backstage.

Also, remember the ability of your staff while designing the process, do not expect your frontline staff to be able to execute complex processes with consistency.

With this 7-step process, you will have all the tools you need
to master your company Customer Experience.

4. Allow for Flexibility

Back end processes can and should be rigid and regimented. When you are setting them up, keep in mind efficiency and effectiveness, you set up the process to be performed in the simplest manner, for e.g.;- checklists (they essentially need to be followed blindly). However, with front end processes that do involve the customer, always remember that at the end of the day it is a human interaction, establish guidelines as far as the process is concerned and allow for flexibility, allow for your staff to be able to adapt to the situation, do not make front end processes so rigid and regimented that they negatively impact the customer experience. Highly rigid and regimented processes are the door opener for the “I will hide behind the rules” sin as a part of the Seven Sins of Customer Service.

Above all, with processes, make sure that you can streamline (as per the customers’ requirements) and track them.

Overall, service design makes the customer experience the priority and does everything possible to ensure that it is always a positive, and satisfying experience. Back end process support this with efficiency and effectiveness – leading to consistency, front end processes bring in the human element, which can be variable but setting up processes helps achieve some consistency here as well. You will face situations where processes are not followed and there are service breakdowns - that is where Service Recovery kicks in. Error free service in a high touch industry is close to impossible, which is why what sets organizations apart is how they recover from these breakdowns, our article on a robust Service Recovery Model can give you further insights into this. 

Processes tell everyone on the team exactly what they need to do to meet (and sometimes exceed) the guest’s needs and expectations. This creates customer satisfaction, which is the ultimate goal.


SERVICE EXCELLENCE: A 7-step process to master your company Customer Experience.

1. Customer Behavior
2. Customer Culture
3. Service Design Roadmap
4. Customer-Focus Governance
5. Customer Service Goals
6. Employees Service Excellence Training
7. Service Performance & Continuously Improve