Customer Experience more powerful than the Supply Chain?

During the past few months I have been spending time understanding the Service Design concept. The history according to Wikpedia:

The earliest contributions on service design (Shostack 1982; Shostack 1984), the activity of designing service was considered as part of the domain of marketing and management disciplines. This design process, according to Shostack, can be documented and codified using a “service blueprint” to map the sequence of events in a service and its essential functions in an objective and explicit manner.

In 1991, service design was first introduced as a design discipline by Prof. Dr. Michael Erlhoff at Köln International School of Design (KISD), and Prof. Birgit Mager has played an integral role for developing the study of service design at KISD in later days. In 2010, 23 service design professionals published the first comprehensive textbook This is Service Design Thinking: Basics – Tools – Cases , edited by Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider.

Wikpedia goes on the give a brief description of Service Design:

Together with the most traditional methods used for product design, service design requires methods and tools to control new elements of the design process, such as the time and the interaction between actors. An overview of the methodologies for designing services is proposed by (Morelli 2006), who proposes three main directions:

    1. Identification of the actors involved in the definition of the service, using appropriate analytical tools
    2. Definition of possible service scenarios, verifying use cases, sequences of actions and actors’ role, in order to define the requirements for the service and its logical and organizational structure
    3. Representation of the service, using techniques that illustrate all the components of the service, including physical elements, interactions, logical links and temporal sequences

Where Service Design has made an impact in my thinking though is its obvious connection to two areas. One in the ability to involve customers through co-creation or open innovation and the other as it relates to The Experience Economy popularized by the book of that name by Pine and Gilmore.

In the 90’s business processes was all the buzz and Lean, Six Sigma led the way. They have continued gaining popularity but and this is a big “but” may soon lose out to the methodologies of Service Design and Design Thinking.

Why? Lean and Six Sigma cannot move away from that supply chain mentality. They are continuously bogged down in the internal world of product delivery. They continue to think the more efficient you become the better company you become. They relate everything to customer value but seldom is that referenced to an external customer.

What’s different about Service Design? In the Service Design context they put the customer experience at the center of the organization. Many product companies have been using this concept with Apple being the shining example. Design is the differentiating factor.

When viewing the customer experience perspective from The Service-Dominant Logic of Marketing framework that states, value is not created till your product/service is put into use creates a different spin. It obsoletes the supply chain and operational excellence as the primary reason your product is purchased. Many efficiency experts are simply at a loss to explain this and struggle to comprehend this concept.

I am not saying improvement of a process is not a good thing. But to do it without improving the customer experience will provide little value and may even prove to be “invaluable”. More information on this can be obtained in a recent blog post: Will Lean always internalize the customer?

Related Information:
The Service-dominant Logic of Marketing: Dialog, Debate, And Directions
If all of us need to be marketers, what’s the framework?
7 Principles of Universal Design & Beyond
The Common Thread of Design Thinking, Service Design and Lean Marketing

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