Unlike production, where the output value depends on what the final product looks like, value of a service is shaped differently. Being intangible by nature, service aims to change the state of people, artefacts, or of information and knowledge. The value of the service is evaluated according to if the change was actually for the better or for the worse. Quite likely the perspectives of service provider and service buyer on this won’t be identical.
This is why in service-dominant economy value creation is not the task that only service provider is responsible for. To make sure that the outcome of the service is actually valuable to the client, he needs to be engaged in value creation process. For example: when you need to get a quality service at a beauty saloon, you don’t just go and sit silently into hairdresser’s chair and expect get out of it in 30 minutes looking all pretty. You also make sure to explain your wishes and expectations. A good stylist takes that into account and adds up his expertise and skills.
This is value co-creation: to produce a service both service provider’s and client’s input is used. Co-creation can happen in anywhere: in any offering value can be created jointly and reciprocally.
Co-creative mindset is in between two extremes: “we know best what the client needs, even if he thinks we’re wrong” and “let’s do exactly what client wants”. If the service provider finds the balance between the two and manages to engage the client’s resources in value creation process – the satisfaction of the client is practically guaranteed. Yet, as always, there can also be too much of a good thing. Research shows, that in case the service buyer is engaged too much, he feels that he has done half of the job and the service provider hasn’t contributed enough to get paid the full price.
To sum up: if you care about the client to feel that value of the service is appropriate and the price he pays for it is fair, forget about the extreme client-centred approach or your preponderant expertise. In service-dominant economy the best value seems to be a result of a co-creative partnership between service provider and client.