Date of Award

5-2011

Embargo Period

3-28-2012

Degree Name

Master of Design (MDes)

Department

Design

Advisor(s)

Stacie Rohrbach

Second Advisor

David Kaufer

Abstract

Trust is an intrinsic component of any loyal “consumer friendship” between customers and service providers, and is a by-product of shared understanding. Nowhere is the notion of trust more relevant than in technical service—such as professional legal practice, architecture, medical care and auto repair—where the primary commodities exchanged are specialized knowledge, equipment and skills. A common challenge in dialogue between expert providers and novice customers in this context is meaningful sharing of technical information. A successful exchange requires care in representation, language, attitude, delivery and timing. Furthermore, with communication breakdowns, trust falters, and business relationships run the risk of falling apart.

Rather than relying on simple transactional exchanges of information in service, a customer’s journey could be enriched by framing service touchpoints as individual opportunities for learning. Learning activities occur in everyday life via interactions with society, artifacts or programs, and often involve the pursuit of knowledge or skills without the structure of a formal curriculum. This study explores how learning might function as a channel for strengthening multi-faceted trust relations in service through integration into programs and artifacts.

In this project, an auto repair shop was investigated as a case study in technical service, given its long inglorious history of customer mistrust. Through exploration in the context of a local mechanic shop, prototypes for experiential and transformative service learning were implemented, tested, and re-shaped into a four-part framework designed to improve technical communications

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