International Journal of Design Vol.5 No.2 2011
Service Innovation Through Touch-points
viewed individually and also in combination. This ability was
also useful when identifying critical touch-points or possibilities
or limitations of individual touch-points. The same can also be
said when it comes to identifying who is responsible for each
touch-point. Some workshop participants compared the content of
the cards to a checklist, others commented on the cards modular
ability, saying “the cards’ physical form and visual presentation
make it easier to scale the process,” and that “the process is built
up like Lego blocks, meaning that you can unfold ideas on a large
scale.” Further, they reported that it was “easy to see touch-points
in relation to each other and spot overlaps or things missing.”
Idea Generation
The cards were given positive evaluations in terms of their
potential for generating new ideas. Firstly, the cards encouraged
both systemic innovation (changing the whole service system)
and innovation in individual touch-points. For individual touch-
points, innovation related to removal (or addition) of touch-points,
and also to changes to the interaction design of an individual
touch-point. Further, the cards aided alignment of touch-points
to brand strategy. Workshop participants commented upon the
cards ability to “make you both concrete and experimental at the
same time” and their ability to “open up the process.” In addition,
several participants commented that the cards opened up a breadth
of ideas. One workshop participant commented: “When I first
looked at the cards, I thought the majority were not relevant for our
project. However, when we started using them, I realised that this
was not true, and seemingly irrelevant cards suddenly contributed
to the improvement of the service (workshop participant, October
We asked participants in the workshops to evaluate the use
of the toolkit to evaluate the ideas that were generated in terms of
their contribution to new ways of thinking, the number of ideas
generated during the time available, the relevance of the ideas for
their project, and the perceived uniqueness of the ideas. These
can be considered pointers to innovation potential. The results
were consistently positive, scoring high ratings on all dimensions.
Considering that the participants in the workshops were from
innovation projects – many with innovation leadership roles – this
shows that the cards fulfilled their function in terms of generating
novel yet relevant ideas.
One issue commented on by a few participants was that
the cards might inhibit the radical thinking in which invention
of new touch-points could arise. Similarly, it was commented
that a missing touch-point could potentially have negative
consequences, since using the cards constrained thinking within
the alternatives given. This is something we have considered,
but have not experienced when running workshops. The cards
deliberately suggest a very broad range of touch-points, many of
which are outside the scope of traditional touch-point thinking.
Indeed a common comment is that participants initially considered
many touch-point cards unnecessary or irrelevant. Once used, this
changes to an expression of how useful the broad approach turned
out to be. However, it is difficult to know if a potential solution is
inhibited without using controlled testing procedures, which have
many practical disadvantages in the project context. In practice,
we have not been able to observe situations in which the cards
have constrained idea generation.
Over time, we have identified a need to continually update
the touch-points. As an example of this, we have had to add a new
category of touch-point - the iPad/tablet, since this new touch-
point was launched during the first 6 months after the touch-point
cards were produced. We see that the touch-point cards need
continual updates to remain contemporary and relevant.
Needs Elicitation
Recent developments in the AT-ONE project have included using
the cards during the customer insight phase of a project. The cards
have been used as an aid for needs elicitation when interviewing
potential users of a service. For example, we have recently used
them to elicit preferences regarding touch-points when contacting
customer service in a telecommunications company. They were
found to be useful and allowed potential customers to compare
different touch-points, prioritise touch-points and think aloud
about touch-point preferences. It was clear that the tangible
form of the cards assisted the cognitive process when users were
answering questions, grouping together, or prioritizing. The use of
the cards for needs elicitation is a new and promising area of use
for the cards, and one which we will be exploring in more detail
in the future.
Figure 4. The way that people held the cards and moved
the cards assisted cognitive and social processes through
movement and placement.