On April 25th over 480 service design professionals and enthusiasts – both from the agency world and in-house – gathered in Budapest for the 2nd DOERS conference. Over the course of the day conference attendees were treated to inspiring presentations, engaging and interactive workshops, and finally networking and drinks under a clear blue, sunny sky. Hellon was invited to host a workshop about design games at the DOERS conference, but luckily we also had some time to sneak away to listen in on some of the presentations.

Delivery is the strategy

Lou Downe from the UK Government Digital Service kicked off the conference on the topic of transformation, and the role of design in helping organisations become and remain relevant. She highlighted the importance of continuous innovation in this age of rapid change, and a mentality of “delivery is the strategy” – if we spend too much time defining and developing, times may already have changed when a service is launched. This is where low-fidelity testing and iteration really takes centre-stage, allowing for delivering and maintaining a service over time.

Following Lou, Mauro Rego spoke about the Craft of Service Design, and the risks of just providing organisations with various toolkits, without the education and experience that play a pivotal part in design thinking. He highlighted the importance of embedding design thinking in organisations and allowing the design approach to scale, whilst ensuring the expertise and creative mindset of design professionals is not lost.

Embedding service design in large organisations

Following a coffee break, we were introduced to the opportunities and challenges of internal service design departments in organisations, through presentations by Claudia Pollina from Vodafone, Silke Bochat from PepsiCo, Bartek Lechowski from IKEA, and Mariana Machado from Accor Hotels. Claudia spoke about Vodafone’s journey towards becoming an increasingly digital telco and the challenges of introducing new ways of working in a siloed and conventional organisation. Having spent some time rotating between different departments, she stressed the importance of finding ambassadors across the organisation and understanding the challenges different departments face to ensure solutions designed meet internal needs, not only making customers’ lives easier. Silke echoed Claudia’s sentiments, and highlighted the need for convincing senior decision makers, and ensuring designers have a robust understanding of how the organisation works, from strategies and operations to frontline.

Bartek took us through the journey IKEA has been on when embracing a customer-focused strategy, and the effects on employee experience as a result. Prompting quite a few laughs, Bartek began by likening the IKEA customer experience to Cinderella’s journey. In the beginning, everything is quite bleak, Cinderella is bullied and kept a prisoner by her stepsisters and stepmother (= parking at IKEA and massive queues), then things really perk up with the arrival of the fairy Godmother (= meatball break!), and then she goes to the ball and meets Prince Charming (= customers find the things they were looking for). Then everything falls apart, the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella’s dress disappears, the carriage turns into a pumpkin… you know the story (= arriving at the queue) but then finally things end on happy note when the shoe fits (= ice-cream time). Stories aside, IKEAs focus on customer experience revolves around making shopping easy, listening to customers, and using a pinch of human magic – requiring commitment from employees. Understanding that employee experience massively impacts customer experience, IKEA listened closely to employee needs, and among other things increased salaries for all employees, a difficult decision from an organisational perspective with some compromises having to be taken with regards to the P & L account. “Transformation is sometimes painful, but customer experience pays off” was the key message, with IKEA promoters visiting on average almost twice as much compared to other customers.

Mariana Machado from Accor Hotels also spoke of the importance of employee experience and truly involving employees in strategy work. She took the audience through Accor’s Heartist (heart + artist) journey, in which Accor employees from all levels across the world took part in defining Accor’s customer experience strategy and principles. Through the work, each hotel gained a couple of Heartist Ambassdors, who upheld the values and Heartist principles throughout the organisation. This also allowed all Accor brands to align with the overall values, rather than competing with each other on separate principles.

Increased collaboration through gamification

Following the lunch break, we had to step away from the main stage for a few hours to prepare for and host our interactive workshop on the topic of Design Games. Around 25 participants had signed up to the session, hosted by Hellon’s Maria Jaatinen, who has extensive experience in using a gamified approach in a variety of industries and for multiple purposes, including citizen participation, employee development, strategy development and future scenario building. The workshop began with an introduction to design games, their application, and the benefits of applying a gamified approach – such as creative thinking, uniting people advocating different perspectives, building a common language around a topic, and prompting participation.

To really showcase the benefits of design games, we arranged a 30 minute interactive activity in which participants actually got to test a design game in action. Games often aim to bring multiple stakeholders representing varying perspectives together to discuss needs and come up with solutions. Participants were so engrossed in conversation that it felt like the workshop ended much too early, and many stayed on to discuss the experience with us. We were very happy to see the participants were so engaged, and hope they enjoyed the game session.

Organisations are becoming more aware of the business value of design

Finally, Oliver King closed the conference with a positive message for all of us working on improving services and customer experience. 89% of organisations believe customer experience is a key differentiator and competitive advantage in the coming years. We would agree – great service design is all about connecting with people’s emotions, something our digital, always-on, distracted world is often in dire need of.

We thoroughly enjoyed the conference, although we were sad to miss some of the excellent speakers and workshops – big thanks to the DOERS team and we hope to be back next year! Here are some of our key take-aways from DOERS 2019:

  • “Delivery is the strategy” – Our world is rapidly changing and we need to design for future re-design
  • Find balance – Internal capability + design expertise = success
  • Understand the business/organisation you are designing for – On every level
  • Involve employees – Employee and customer experience go hand-in-hand
  • Make the world a better place – Remember the emotional connection design can build

Who are we?

Hellon is on a mission to co-create future success that matters. We challenge traditional ways of working by using a co-creative, customer-centric approach and design methods to improve customer and employee experience. With global experience across various industries and the public/private sectors, we have helped organisations build strategic design competency, improve their customer/employee journey and experience and create innovative solutions. If you have any questions about Hellon, our previous work or service design and the design approach in general, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Are you looking to incorporate service design methodologies to improve customer satisfaction and experience, but face resistance from senior management who remain unconvinced of the benefits and results of customer experience and service design? In this article, we ask Siobhan Hennessy, Head of Customer Experience at Musgrave Group, about the key factors that enabled Musgrave Group to introduce service design at a strategic level and to improve competitiveness one successful project after another. Below, you can read Hennessy’s seven golden tips on how to convince senior management of the benefits of a strategic utilisation of service design:

Embedding service design in an organisation takes time

You may already have read about the successful collaboration between Hellon and the Irish Musgrave Group, which recently won the award for best international service design work at the Service Design Global Conference 2018. The winning project, which resulted in an estimated EUR 5 million incremental effect on annual revenue, was based on a systematic use of service design, not coincidence. In this article, we highlight the pioneering work done by the Musgrave Group in incorporating service design into the corporate strategy and engaging the entire organisation in design thinking.

Advancing design thinking in an organisation may at first seem like swimming against the current. Personally, you may be ready to set targets for a service design project and “take action”, but the management team is not ready to invest, wants to make sure benefits and results are rapidly measurable (often in the next quarter already), and/or need a better understanding of service design overall. Does this sound familiar?

Musgrave Group unites experience with the courage to experiment

The 142-year old Musgrave Group is Ireland’s largest grocery retailer and wholesaler, as well as the largest private sector employer in the country. In addition to Ireland, the Group has grocery stores in Northern Ireland and Spain. Siobhan Hennessy, Head of Customer Experience at Musgrave Group, has over 15 years of experience in managing customer experience and service design projects at various companies. During her two years at Musgrave Group to date, she has been involved in nine different service design projects.

One of the key factors for the fruitful collaboration between Hellon and the Musgrave Group has been the commitment to service design throughout the organisation, as well as prior experience of using a service design approach. However, Rome was not built in a day, and the same can be said for establishing service design as a strategic tool: it takes time, committed work, and calculated steps.

1. Find your internal support team

Strategic utilisation of service design starts with the smallest but most careful of steps, the first of which is finding internal support for projects within the organisation.

For example, to successfully launch the Hellon & Musgrave “Baby” project, it was crucial for Hennessy that the company’s HR manager was inspired by the new ways of working brought in by the service design project, enabling the company to improve its innovativeness and agility.

It is imperative to build a support network around you, e.g. from upper middle management or managers you already know recognise the value, impact and operational benefits service design offers. These people become your most important ambassadors.

At this stage, it is important to pay attention to the impact of storytelling: trust is built through the presentation of good case studies, before and after stories, and through a clear and concise explanation of a problem and its solution.

2. Build credibility through quick-wins

If you are just getting started, begin with small scale projects you know will bear fruit quickly and increase the scale of your projects as you grow more experienced. Once you’ve learned the ropes, you will be able to provide evidence and results for your business.

Therefore, instead of undertaking demanding strategic projects right from the bat, start with smaller projects you know you will be able to implement in practice and manage them successfully. By demonstrating that even minor investments in service design can impact operations, you will receive increased attention and trust in the use of service design as a strategic tool.

3. Build a multidisciplinary team of brilliant people

Make sure to form a skilled and multidisciplinary team which combines the excellence of different departments and/or specialisations – providing your service design projects with important leverage. In addition to bringing information into the team, this internal impact group also distributes information back to its own units, slowly breaking internal silos and walls between departments.

When assembling a multidisciplinary team of experts, it is important to pay particular attention to the fact that team-members are sufficiently senior and hold decision making power, and that everyone is committed to service design and willing to put the work in. This will ensure an ability to action changes.

Once again, narrative and stories play an important role. When your team is able to take part in customer research or test prototypes on a client interface, for example, and to see the immediate impact and significance of the project on the customer, inspiration will arise and trust in the project increase.

4. Measure service design impact – before, during and after

In one way or another, the management team wants to see growth in turnover and profitability. To provide them with real and tangible results on the impact of service design projects on operations, invest in measuring the effectiveness of your projects which will enable you to consistently demonstrate success at each stage.

Measurement and numerical results are by no means the only way to convince management of the benefits of service design, but they are definitely the most concrete. When you are able to demonstrate that the company’s turnover has increased by X amount compared to baseline figures, you will surely catch the attention of your audience.

According to Hennessy, at the Musgrave Group, a 5 to 8-week project already provides enough data to measure the impact of the project and to calculate its effect on turnover.

5. The importance of relationship building and storytelling

You should also place importance on establishing and nurturing continuous business relationships. Tell people you meet about the service design projects you have been working on and what they have accomplished. Instead of business jargon and numbers, here we recommend a focus on portraying the customer perspective, as well as establishing a genuine emotional connection. This is often based on discussing the customer perception and experience of going through a change.

Excellent tools for storytelling include empathy videos, direct quotes from customer feedback and images.

Networking within your organisation is of utmost importance as well, as it will help you create a positive attitude towards service design, as well as increase understanding amongst those without prior experience of the impact service design has on improving customer experience and organisational performance.

6. Seek international recognition for your accomplishments

Participating in various international competitions with your project, and receiving recognition through awards, will not only result in increased external awareness about your project and your organisation, but can, more importantly, convince leadership that service design really works and is worth investment.

As with every business with a customer base, you also need to have evidence of your success. Through awards and accolades, you will increase the level of internal trust earned through hard work, and also take one step forward in engaging the entire organisation in service design thinking.

7. Build a great working relationship with your service design partner

“If my service design agency is successful, I’m successful.” – Siobhan Hennessy, Musgrave Group.

Hennessy mentions that the Musgrave Group conducts 70% of service design projects in collaboration with an external service design agency. The choice of partner is not always an obvious choice, according to Hennessy, but based on the building of a mutual relationship and active cooperation by both parties.

It is important for her that cooperation is mutually beneficial and genuinely collaborative. What made the collaboration with Hellon particularly fruitful was a mutual commitment – by Hellon but also by the Musgrave Group itself.

“Hellon’s service designers are the most experienced experts in their field, but we know our company better than anyone, so it is important that the projects always involve the right people and that internal orientation is fine. Your team must be 100% committed to a service design project. If our service design partner succeeds, then we too will succeed.” Hennessy sums up.

Commitment to service design thinking is based on teamwork

As previously stated, committing the entire organisation and corporate management to the strategic use of service design does not happen by snapping your fingers, but takes time and consistent hard work. By ensuring you are supported by experts committed to service design thinking, both internally and externally, and successfully implementing well-planned projects, you are one step closer to your goal of establishing service design as a strategic tool in your organisation.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss how we might be able to support you in meeting your service design needs!


Read more about what to keep in mind when selecting a service design partner in our service design procurement guide.

New call-to-action


We have published few posts about Hellon’s AI solution AINO, which aims to help organisations in managing their customer experience. In this post, we take a closer look on how AINO can help companies to better target their customer experience related investments.


We know that most organisations have a wealth of data at their disposal. We also know that these organisations have very little understanding on how to use the data properly and make optimal decisions based on it. According to Forrester Research, approximately 60% – 73% of the data collected by the organisations remains unused in analytics.


At Hellon, we have identified that the key challenge for developing customer experience is the endless list of different, alternative development objects. Typically, customer experience managers are considering, for example, whether they should invest in training the customer service staff, acquire new applications, train the management team or even move into a new business premises. There is no accurate information or measurements available on the impacts of the different investments on the overall development of customer experience. Many investments fail because understanding the customer experience in a big picture with all the dependencies is too challenging for a human being.


With AINO, we want to help organisations identify the best investment targets within customer experience to get the best return on customer experience. For evaluating the investments we have developed a service called AINO ROCX™, Return on Customer Experience. This is an approach and calculation model created by Hellon to model how to prioritize investments in the development of customer experience. AINO ROCX ™ analyses the organisation’s existing customer data using artificial intelligence and answers the question: Which combination of actions will result to the highest impact on customer experience and thus on the development of the customer value?


AINO ROCX™ provides accurate, data-based information on client experience conversions to the action plan. Alternatively, AINO will also build a data-based optimal combination of actions to achieve the maximum impact (conversion in customer experience). This will help the customer experience managers within the organisations to better anticipate the impact of different investments and to ensure that the invested money and time are used in a best possible manner.


Interested in hearing more about how AINO could help your organization manage the customer experience? Contact us:


Laura Franck, Client Service Director



Niko Reunanen, Data Science Lead


New call-to-action


In our previous post, we introduced AINO, Hellon’s newly launched solution utilising artificial intelligence. Now we take a closer look at how AINO supports customer experience management and the process of making customer experience related predictions.


Anticipating and making predictions in the management of customer experience is particularly complex and challenging, as the customer experience is influenced by various factors. The ability of artificial intelligence to find patterns and draw conclusions from large amounts of customer data will take customer experience management to the next level.


With AINO, we can combine large volumes of various data sources and model the customer experience in a whole new way. This means that the context of the customer experience can finally be modeled as a whole phenomenon and thereby create predictability for the development of customer experience. In practice, AINO can predict, for example, the life cycle of customer relationships and customer deprivation from a new perspectives (such as: What customer experience related factors affect a customer churn in a particular customer segment? Or which investment target would guarantee the highest conversion to customer satisfaction?).


AINO helps to identify the relevant pain points as well as to introduce completely new opportunities out of the companies’ customer experience related data. Therefore, companies should invest the money reserved for improving their customer experience to the possibilities identified by artificial intelligence to really concentrate on improving the right things. In other words, AINO will help you to run to the right direction with full speed when it comes to developing your company’s customer experience.


AINO produces analysis and predictions on customer experience related factors that are measured within a company. This, in turn, creates a more relevant connection between customer experience and sales and customer relationship development. By understanding our customer experience and its relationship with sales and customer relationship development, we know how to develop customer loyalty. Through making predictions, AINO can also provide information, tools and solutions for the customer service staff, so they have better chances to succeed in their work and provide better customer service.


Above all, AINO is a customer’s voice brought to the management of the company in a relevant manner. AINO supports the top management in investment decisions, operational guidance, customer relationship management, as well as service planning.


Interested in hearing more about AINO? We’ll be happy to share more information on how AINO could help your company in managing the customer experience. Please contact us:


Laura Franck, Client Service Director



Niko Reunanen, Data Science Lead


New call-to-action


There has been a lot of talk around artificial intelligence and new, related solutions are constantly being launched. When speaking of artificial intelligence (AI), the term translates into a multiple different meanings. Most common interpretation would be machine’s ability to imitate human thought and decision-making processes. In a wider scale, it can also mean decision-making or problem-solving performed by machines. In that context, it refers to the theoretical area of information technology, called machine learning. For example, a mathematical model can be taught to solve a problem by introducing a set of teaching examples, i.e. data. Thus, the computer program is taught to solve the problem without any particular programming. Machine learning is a creative process, as the potential findings and outcomes are not known in advance, or may not even be conceivable.


This spring, Hellon launched an AI solution named AINO, that utilises machine learning. AINO was created to help organisations to better manage their customer experience. AINO listens to consumers by handling large amounts of customer data and creates a deeper understanding in order to support the decision making processes. AINO produces an understanding that can be utilised in planning and managing customer experience, such as evaluating investments into customer experience.


AINO was created for the need to combine the quantitative and qualitative worlds of customer insight to provide a more versatile understanding of service design. Qualitative customer studies have always been at the heart of Hellon’s competencies. In-depth interviews and information gathering through various qualitative methods to identify the customer needs can be given as examples of the mentioned studies.



Enriching the qualitative world with the understanding produced by artificial intelligence completes the overall picture and adds more depth to the interpretations. An understanding based on large amounts of data provides more specific guidelines and a stronger assurance for decision-making, leaving less room for assumptions. AINO aims to help organisations better understand and pay closer attention to the needs of the clients. For people, handling such large volumes of data can be difficult and extremely time consuming, and in some cases totally impossible. This is where AINO proves to be useful by enabling the scanning and analyses of endless data bases while scaling the workload relevant in service design. We already know collecting data alone is not enough and AINO transforms the already collected data into real value.


The data utilised by AINO is companies’ own quantitative and qualitative data. It can be customer feedback data, employee feedback or any kind of survey data. In order for the information to be relevant, it needs to be customer experience related and to describe the customer experience as a phenomenon.


AINO helps to collect and identify the relevant pain points as well as to introduce completely new opportunities based on companies’ customer experience related data. We believe that it is not only essential to improve customer experience, but to improve the right elements of customer experience. Hence we think that the customer experience related investments should be focused on the possibilities identified by artifical intelligence. To date, AINO has been assisting the customer experience management in more than ten major Finnish organisations.


Interested in hearing more about how AINO could help your organisation in managing and developing your customer experience? Get in touch with us:


Laura Franck, Client Service Director



Niko Reunanen, Data Science Lead


New call-to-action

In the recent years, Hellon has had the opportunity to apply service design approach to various organizational strategy processes. In January 2018 Hellon, together with State Treasury’s D9 digital team, facilitated a two-day workshop, The Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth, which is a great example of how participatory and user-centered approaches of service design can be applied to cross-administrative entities.


The Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth was facilitated for 25 participants from all the ministries in Finland, applying the “transition design” approach. During the sprint, participants within cross-ministerial teams, were inspired by different design methodologies and were guided to develop solutions on pre-identified large-scale social problems. The resulting solutions, the outcomes of the sprint, will contribute towards the Permanent Secretary recommendations for the next government. The work is not affected by political steering of the sitting government.


The two-day sprint was designed and organized by Hellon team, led by Design Director, Zeynep Falay von Flittner in collaboration with State Treasury’s D9 digital team and  Jouni Varanka, Chief Senior Specialist at the Prime Minister’s Office. The process  was influenced by the transition design approach and adjusted to the context as an experiment to explore new ways of working in government organizations.



What is transition design?

Transition design is an evolving discipline combining methods and theories of change, design and sustainability in order to drive societal transitions towards more sustainable futures. It deals with major social challenges, or extensive problems, such as climate change, eldering population or the prevention of marginalization. Experiments such as The Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth are tailor-made workshops in which we apply transition design and strategic design methodologies in new ways to reach innovative outcomes in public sector organizations.


Focus on the citizen’s perspective

Our experience from the The Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth strengthened our belief that applying the transition design approach in strategy work such as this will make it possible to position the citizen’s perspective more strongly in the center of ministerial strategy work in the future.

Why is it important to emphasize the citizen perspective in this high-level ministerial work? During the sprint planning process, Jouni Varanka, Chief Senior Specialist at the Prime Minister’s Office, recognized four systemic reference groups of policy making, consisting of different actors in our social ecosystem. Citizens and customers form the largest mass with their various hopes and needs – they use the services of society. The voice of this group is often subtle in comparison to the influentials (labor market, unions, media) and operators, which in turn produce services in the ecosystem (companies and organizations). Regulators are the smallest, but most influential group in the ecosystem. Their influence, for example, in the strategy process of the government program is traditionally the strongest. For regulators, the voice of the people may be heard weakly or filtered by voices of influentials and operators.



The Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth made use of videotaped interviews and profiles representing different citizen- and entrepreneurial perspectives to include their points of view in the work of strategic themes. In addition, the contradictions between the reference groups and existing possibilities for cooperation were taken into account in working towards the final solutions.


Workshop Outcomes

The feedback from participants in the Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth was mostly extremely positive. According to our feedback survey, participants rated the sprint as a good alternative to the current work group process and most respondents would very much like to participate in a similar sprint in the future as well. The participants considered the “intensive, systematic and interactive approach offered by the sprint to support consensus among different ministries” particularly useful. In addition, bridging perspectives through cross-ministerial debates and the citizen perspective was assessed as highly valuable.


The Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth proved, that in two days it is possible to tackle cross-ministerial, complex problems in our society by applying the transition design approach. It was possible to move from problematization towards the desired future status and create preliminary outlines of the features of the needed reforms.



The key benefits of transition design in public sector organizations:

  • Increased Synergies between the Ministries. In the Sprint Towards Sustainable Growth, societal themes were viewed through a joint problem-solving process for ministries.
  • Time saving. Instead of a long working group work process, certain work phases can be replaced by effective, facilitated workshops.
  • A human-centered approach. Societal themes were solved by bringing the citizen and entrepreneurial perspective to the center, whereby new possibilities enabled by interfaces between different actors could be identified.
  • Collaboration. During two days, ministry employees were able to share views and create new opportunities for cooperation in the future.


Are you interested in hearing more about the utilization of service design methods and the results achieved in our projects? Stay tuned for the second part of this blog post, coming out later this spring. In the second part we will go deeper into the transition design from the methodology point of view. In the meanwhile, we will be glad to tell you more about service design and how we can design tailor-made solutions to meet your organization’s needs.


For more information, please contact:

Pauline Ranta
Client Service Director

New call-to-action

My best friend wrote this in my high school yearbook: “I’ve lived through some things just so I can tell you.”

Continue reading on Medium »

Helsinki office

Jaakko Wäänänen


Minna Einiö

Commercial Director

Laura Franck

Client Services Director

Pursimiehenkatu 26 C, 00150 Helsinki, Finland

London office

Timo Pätiälä

Managing Director

1 Knightsbridge Green, London 1SWX 7NW, UK

Billing Address

For Helsinki Oy work the electronic invoicing address is: 003721357252
EDI code: 00372135725
Operator: OpusCapita Group Oy
Operator code: 003710948874

Our Policies

Privacy Policy »