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Joost Holthuis Partner at Edenspiekermann

Graphic designer and one of the Netherlands’ pioneers of service design, Joost Holthuis, will join Edenspiekermann as partner and shareholder from this July.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 29-08-2013

After working for several years as a graphic designer on large identity projects, Joost Holthuis started designing for the Internet in the mid 90's.

Joos Holthuis’ web identities for clients like the De Volkskrant (1995) and the Rijksmuseum (2000) won him awards and accolades.  He went on to become one of the Dutch pioneers in the field of service design – understanding how customers experience and value a service and what clients can do with that knowledge.  In 2011 he gave a TEDx talk in Hamburg on this very topic.

“Service design can add to a companies’ identity,” says Holthuis.  “It is really important.  It is more than just focusing on service, but about truly practicing what you preach.  A lot of companies offer services to their clients, but if that is not carried through and in accordance with the brands’ values then you lose credibility.  Nobody will end up believing you.”

The point is that design can often help a company to make its ideas more visible. Innovation and service improvements too often end up in big reports skimmed only by stakeholders. Traditionally it was thought that behind-the-scenes projects could not be communicated en masse.  “But if you make it all more visual and employ design techniques, it does help to get results and to get them faster,” says Holthuis.  

So much is about perception.  Holthuis uses ING bank as an example of how clumsy promises can affect the public’s image of a brand.  “When they released their first mobile banking app it made a lot of promises, but actually it required users to access their account via an MSN account and people did not trust Microsoft.  It didn’t work and felt more like a trial.  I think it was quite damaging to the brand.  Of course that was a few years ago and I know their current mobile app is great.”

A better example, according to Holthuis is KLM.  “They offer a great service, a good website and good apps,” he says.  “It is a complete experience, and everything they communicate and offer fits in with their quality standards.”

Holthuis’ own project for Pro Rail and the Dutch railways (NS) reviewed the service level on platforms in rail stations and helped the two companies to connect and provide a better service.  In the Netherlands Pro Rail does the tracks and NS does the trains.  At Den Bosch station they installed a dynamic information system to communicate better with customers.  “It was good for the client and good for business,” says Holthuis.

From this July Holthuis will bring that knowhow to Amsterdam agency Edenspiekermann as a partner and shareholder. "Joost recognized the potential and importance of service design for our clients at an early stage … he successfully integrated service design methodologies in our design processes,” says Edo van Dijk, managing partner of the agency.

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