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April 17, 2015

Service: Logic or Grandiosity?

Service Logic - Design Thinking - Blue Door Consulting OshkoshWhenever I introduce what I do to new, non-designer friends it goes something like this:

Hi. I’m Ann. I’m a service designer.

Finnish response: ‘Interesting. There aren’t a lot of great service experiences in Finland you know. Besides, we don’t do services, we make products.’

Regardless of which side of the world you live, as citizens of developed countries we tend to overlook the service experiences that surround us. It’s particularly easy to overlook the service experiences that are well-designed and logical, because they make you forget how simple it is to achieve a desired goal.

Being an expat in a new land of services has offered me the opportunity to gain an appreciation for the services ecosystem that surrounds me day in and day out. Along the way, I’ve noticed some particularly well-designed service experiences.

Finnish ID System

When I moved to Finland I was issued an identification number much like an American Social Security number. This number ‘magically’ connects all systems.

When we made our first move within the city I was expecting to be buried in a mound of address change forms. To my surprise one form was all it took. My information connected to my ID number was automatically updated everywhere from my bank account to store loyalty cards.

Joint Application for Higher Education

Finland’s education system is renowned for quality education. When I recently applied for a Masters program I appreciated the joint application process. In short, you log in (using your ID number nonetheless) and fill out one application. You select and rank the programs you want. If you don’t get into your first choice you will be considered for your second, until you are (hopefully) accepted into one of the schools on your list. Streamlining the application is simpler for the prospective student and offers the education system clear insights about program preference.


I had a chip in my car windshield, which quickly grew to a crack. I called the insurance company. They helped me, in English. To my surprise, a rental car was included while work is being done.

The insurance interaction took just 20 minutes and went something like this:

  1. Call insurance
  2. Receive email with three options of repair locations closest to my home
  3. Receive call from rental company to schedule a car (I wasn’t quite ready)
  4. Receive text from rental company with contact information so I could call and schedule when I was ready

The repair process was equally smooth since all of my information was already in the system at the repair shop.

Lesson learned: Logic before grandiosity

As Finns are quick to remind me, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. However, these experiences embody one of my favorite business lessons: Logic before grandiosity.

When we think about great service it’s easy to think about bellhops opening doors or a barista who remembers our orders. However, logic and simplicity are equally important for businesses. Produce services and experiences that make sense and the rest will come.

Today’s challenge

Think about the services you interact with on a daily basis. How do they embody logic over grandiosity? Now think about the service you provide to customers. How can you apply this principle to your own service delivery?