What is internal service design?

2 min readJun 14, 2023

Internal service design is a term Clearleft uses with clients to emphasise how important the employee experience is in shaping the customers’ experience.

When a customer is frustrated with a service, often it’s not just down to the interface they are using (although these can always be improved). They are more likely to be experiencing service failure because of something behind the scenes.

Photo by NEW DATA SERVICES on Unsplash

On the flip side of every shiny customer-facing interface, there is an internal tool that an employee uses day in and day out. When internal tools are neglected, as they too often are, the service is compromised and the customer’s experience harmed. What’s more, employees trying to do a good job become disillusioned and fed up working around the broken systems they are encumbered with. They end up either delivering worse service or quitting for a more fulfilling job elsewhere.

Internal service design comes in to understand and provide better solutions to employees’ problems, elevating the quality of service and customer experience. Inevitably the underlying issues are complex, process-drive, very much human, and not solely down to badly designed software.

The process of internal service design considers the customer journey for employees. It involves designing workflows, and implementing systems and tools to support the delivery of services. The goal is to create a seamless and integrated experience for both employees and customers. Internal service design is a key part of creating a positive and productive work environment, and can help to ensure that employees have the support they need to be successful in their roles.

If that sounds like plain and simple service design to you, then you’d be right. But words are important, and internal service design brings the focus to where the greatest impact is often made: get it right for your employees and you’ll get it right for your customers.

Originally posted on the Clearleft blog here.




Clearleft is a strategic design studio helping you get the most from your products, services & teams.