We started Livework in 2001 because we believed that people deserved better services. Our core insight was that organisations both in the public and private sector were stuck in an industrial and product-focused mind-set that prevented them from fulfilling their potential in a digital age. We believed – and still do so today – that design thinking can help organisations tackle this challenge.
Our journey so far has seen us working with some of the world’s most exciting brands to help them innovate, deliver proven impact together with public service providers and businesses alike.
Our cause to help deliver outstanding and impactful services continues, while the way we do it evolves every day.
Born out of the digital revolution (2001)
During the early days of the web, in the 90’s, we saw how new business models that enabled value-creation for both customers and businesses popped up in the digital space. When we started Livework, we believed that some of these models also could be applied to services that had longer legacy and operated in more traditional ways. We had also learned that digital technology would enable organisations to align their services across channels. Organisations could now speak with their customers in a more integrated way, using one voice regardless of whether they interacted via the web, a call-centre or in a store.
As the first service design consultancy in the world, Livework set out to formulate a new language and a toolset that could help our clients meet the opportunities of the digital age.
Service innovation (2003)
In 2003, the idea of service design had been embraced by a few industry-leading companies such as Orange and Sony as a way to drive innovation. At the same time, Livework started partnering with design universities in Italy, Germany and the UK to build an academic framework to support and develop the way we design services.
By 2006, Livework collaborated with financial institutions like Aviva Insurance to take a lean start-up approach to innovation – taking radical service concepts from core customer needs to market trials in months
Public service design (2005)
Thought-leaders in public sector discovered the value of service design in the mid 2000’s. Healthcare institutions such as the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK asked Livework to help them see and understand their services through the eyes of patients and their loved ones. This outside-in approach proved powerful in enabling change in highly complex health organisations – it inspired the design of services that were driven by patients’ needs, not the requirements of the system.
In 2007, we opened our Nordic studio in Oslo. One of our first clients was Oslo University Hospital, allowing us to further build our expertise in the public sector. From working with the UN peacekeepers in Somalia and police in London, to ambulance drivers in rural Norway, design with public service providers has been a mainstay in Livework’s work ever since.
Customer impact (2008)
The financial crisis in 2008 drove a new focus on service improvement. Companies were under pressure to deliver their existing services more effectively and create more customer impact with less cost. It became critical to win – and keep – business through delivering a supreme customer experience.
With investments at a minimum, Livework supported clients to hone in on the details that made a big difference to customers and design services that met expectations, and were free of irritations.
When the largest Norwegian insurer, Gjensidige, launched a two-year programme called “Extreme Customer Orientation”, Livework helped identify customer issues and design improvements across the entire business. The results of this partnership were incredible, measured both in terms of customer satisfaction and in financials.
Customer lifecycle (2011)
By 2010, service design was a well-defined field with tried and tested methods, a growing number of agencies in Europe and the US and service design MA programmes at leading universities. At this point, we shared our experience in our book, “Service Design – From Insight to implementation”, co-written together with Professor Andy Polaine.
It was time for us to move beyond standard practice and understand the lifecycle of customers at a more fundamental level. We mapped customer behaviours as they play out over time in particular industries and used these frameworks to surgically identify where an organisation could make the biggest impact, both for customers and for the business.
Service design for business (2013)
While service design was becoming more mainstream, we took a critical look at the real business impact delivered with clients in this fledgling industry. There were many proven examples that services were more geared toward customers but we realised that far too few of them resulted in significant business impact.
In 2013, we set about our own transformation to build a company that was not only an expert at designing great customer experiences, but also knew how to deliver the most impact for the business and help our clients overcome organisational challenges. In order to deliver on this ambition, Livework developed a new set of tools and capabilities. We also hired our first business designers to make sure that our work was business relevant to executives and front-line staff alike.
The learnings we took from working with our trusted clients during this process are summed up in our latest book, “Service Design for Business”, published in December 2015.
Architecting the customer experience (2015)
Today, we continue our quest to develop more powerful ways to create impact for our clients and their customers. We are deepening the way we connect the customer experience to business architecture. This means connecting customer needs and ideas and using these insights and ideas to engage customers in ways that match an organisation’s ability to deliver on specific needs. Practically, we are working with people across our clients’ business – connecting the silos – to ensure that customer experience ideas are discussed with process owners, systems architects, operational teams and policymakers. Bringing this expertise enables us to design services that are not only desirable for customers, but feasible and viable for businesses. People still deserve better services, and they will get them.