The science of service: 10 steps to building service science
As firms increasingly seek to innovate and compete through service, so there has been a growing focus on the building of a science of service. The Center for Service Leadership has identified the following building blocks of such a science.
- Foster service infusion and growth
Organisations need to enhance their ability to pursue services by transforming from goods-dominant organisations into goods and services/solutions enterprises, and developing, integrating and aligning related strategies and portfolios. Challenges and opportunities for successful practices include: developing value propositions for services, pricing service offerings, and training customer-centric contact personnel to be capable of matching customer needs with company offerings.
- Improve well-being through transformative service
Improving customer/community well-being through service requires the examination of transformative and restorative experiences and requires researchers to consider the impact of the customer’s role in consumption and value creation, relationship development and social interaction, servicescape and service design, planning, building and managing service infrastructure, and technology and innovation on well-being.
- Create and maintain a service culture
The overarching question is how to develop and sustain a service culture and mind-set in historic product companies. Service culture is focused on achieving a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace by an organisation developing, sharing, and sustaining a set of service-focused values and beliefs around why the organisation exists, what it offers, and how it operates. These service-focused values are reflected both internally with employees and externally with customers.
- Stimulate service innovation
Service innovation is focused on creating value for customers, employees, business owners, alliance partners, and/or the communities they serve through new and/or improved service offerings, service processes, and service business models. Issues include: how can firms innovate to alter the three generic roles of customers: as users (co-creating value), buyers (making a buying decision), and payers (providing monetary feedback for exchange)? and how can firms relieve customers from the activities they are not willing or unable to perform, or how can they enable customers to perform the activities they prefer to do?
- Enhance service design
The focus of service design is to realise service strategy and innovative service ideas by aligning various internal and external stakeholders around the creation of holistic service experiences for customers, clients, employees, business partners, and/or citizens. The discipline is young, and one research challenge will be to evaluate and measure systematically the effects of service design.
- Optimise service networks and value chains
The focus of service networks and value chains is to profitably meeting customers’ needs and expectations through the configuration, connection, facilitation of various activities and interactions between various parties across the entire customer experience. Within this area, key questions include: how can firms ensure that service standards and quality of customer care are delivered especially in cases in which there is an informal governance structure and limited coordination among partners (unlike traditional supply chains)? Furthermore, how can firms maintain ownership of their customer relationships when much of the value and key contact is delivered by partners?
- Effectively brand and sell services
The focus of service branding and selling is to identify, package and communicate the critical but intangible elements of the service, good-service combination, or solution that resonate most with customers and provide differentiation from competitive offerings. The study of strong service brands raise questions such as: What roles can marketing personnel effectively play to improve the consistency and overall quality of customers’ experiences using the service? And what are the important distinctions between external branding (to customers and prospects) and internal branding (to service providers), and what are the implications of these distinctions?
- Enhance the service experience through co-creation
Collaborative efforts between the company and customer can provide enhanced value for both parties. Further exploration of the underlying questions and implications of co-creation is needed. For instance, how do we determine intellectual property rights of co-created services? How do we manage and measure the impact and returns of online customer communities?
- Measure and optimise the value of service
By identifying, implementing, tracking and finding a balance of the components of value creation in the service across the customer experience, the value for customers and companies can be optimised. There is a pressing need for more comprehensive frameworks for offering managerial guidance in determining the most appropriate services and service levels to offer. A need exists for developing appropriate metrics for operationalising non-monetary costs (e.g. customer frustration due to poorly designed services) and benefits (e.g. potential increase in customer loyalty due to the provision of complementary services) in the value-assessment models
- Leverage technology to advance service
In the service space, technology can break down siloes, and create more seamless and user-friendly customer experiences, enabling new service offerings. But there are some challenging elements to contend with, for instance, it will be important to understand customers’ adoption and usage behaviour for new services that are emerging from new connectivity such as smart devices and also understand how usage data are predictive of future customer needs and behaviour, realising how data can play a role in innovation and customer relationship management.
- The need for interdisciplinary research.
- A shift to a service-based mindset.
- A trend towards globalisation.
- Underrepresentation of business-to-business research.
- The emergence of transformative service.
- The importance of technology for service.
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.