Service Design – Rewarding Users.

Surprising your users, be them clients, friends or business partners, generally always brings out a smile.

I for one, love the “extra little bits” that come with products I buy.  From Tesco giving you 5 pence off a litre of petrol for spending a certain amount of cash instore, to McDonalds offering the chance to win house’s, Mini Coopers, and large cash prizes* to lucky food-munchers.

*(Haven’t seen/hear/read of anyone winning anything from McDonalds.  Ever.)

For conference organisers, surprising your audience is generally a good idea, as everyone wants to line their pockets with free goodies to remember the day.

For last year’s Build Conf in the waterfront, Andy McMillian (Organizer) sent out super-special “Build Schwag” to the conference speakers; consisting of pencils, stickers and beautifully crafted notebooks.  If you were lucky enough to be a speaker (of which you probably weren’t) you wouldn’t have had the best chance to grab these goodies.  Some extra gifts were available on conference day, but were snapped up very quickly.

Other conference’s take the same approach, with DIBI offering T-shirts & stickers, and New Adventures Conf distributing a unique newspaper just for attendees.


Recently I have bee thinking about my own small company, SoulHosting.   I started the company last year to offer web hosting packages to Interactive Multimedia Design students at UUJ.  I found that web hosting from large companies charged exorbitant prices, which did not suit student budgets.  I researched being a “host reseller” and found that it would be extremely beneficial, for both my wallet and clients seeking hosting with web design.

I aimed the hosting at university students, specifically Interactive Multimedia Design, creating posters and business cards with “eCoupons”.  I distributed the flyers around the IMD labs in UUJ and posters around Block 16 (the computer blocks) with permission from Dr Peter Nicholl.

This year, I have taken a different approach, targeting students with hosting while offering “extra little bits”.  I have created a first draft poster, seen below, offering students the chance to win something close to their hearts – alcohol.  Even though I’m not the biggest Vodka fan, for students I believe it to be the No.1 drink on their list when going out.

Once the final draft has been created, if allowed, I will print the posters off on high-quality photo paper and place them in suitable positions around the IMD lab.

Offering a hosting service to students who need it (final year students with Major Projects) while offering an extra “deal” with high chances of winning should attract customers.  Through the use of Twitter, I have set up another competition that is free to enter with a prize of 1 Year’s free hosting.

Targeting web designers/developers through physical flyers and digital media should, in theory, grasp extra cliental.


Other businesses do the same thing, the most famous, Virgin Atlantic.

Since its conception in 1984, Virgin Atlantic has 7,500 members of staff, 5,921,766 customers and 40 planes.  Joe Ferry, Head of Design at Virgin Atlantic Airways believes “Virgin Atlantic has no right to exist and the fact that it does and is successful is entirely due to the fact that it is different”.

This is somewhat true – if you take the average Joe off the street, ask him to name a “high class” aeroplane service, he will undoubtedly mention Virgin Atlantic.  Sir Richard Branson, when creating VA, wanted something different, something that would compete (and win) among the other aeroplane carriers.

Borne was the “First Class” service, offering expensive drinks, relaxing seats, a place to sleep and always on-hand stewards.  Ticket prices obviously would reflect the service received, aiming for business men and women who wanted to fly in peace.

In 2002, after September 11th attacks, Virgin undertook a multimillion dollor upgrade of the “First Class” experience.  This jolt boosted VA’s sales the following year, returning profit for the first time since the Twin Tower attacks..

Since then, VA have spent millions investing in creating “the ultimate” experience for passengers, from Economy to First Class.  They have a dedicated “Service Design” team based in the UK working with ex-cabin crew and closely with the Branding Team to deliver the upper-most designs, brochures and experience.

In recent years, VA has produced stunning promotional videos, the most recent of which is available here.  Combining James Bond-themed theatrics and music from the well re-known Muse, the video was a huge success for the Service Design team, promoting the red-dressed company to their fullest.

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