Using Tools of Service Design to Facilitate Knowledge-Intensive Service Activities

Not only professional service designers can apply tools of service design in order to create and develop offerings. Service providers themselves can use those tools to facilitate communication with clients. Following post describes how knowledge-intensive services could benefit from integrating tools of  service design into service delivery process.

Perceived value of a service is quite an abstract term, mainly due to immaterial nature of service itself. It is actually quite rear that you can measure a concrete and precise value of the outcome, like ROI for example. Legitimacy of perceived value becomes especially questionable when you try to define in a knowledge-intensive service: client may simply not have enough competence to evaluate on the outcome of a complex problem-solving process.

One may ask, why is it important at all that the client would equitably evaluate on the value of knowledge-intensive service. Answer is quite simple: these services engage a large amount of competence (ex. training, consultancy, specific technical service, etc.). Price list for this type of work is rather high, outcome very intangible and the amount of actual effort to deliver the service is quite vague to customer. As a result service buyer often feels that he has overpaid. Bottom line: client is unhappy.

To fix the problem one would need to make the process of service delivery more transparent. We suggest that service design tools integrated into service process could achieve it.

Typical issue with knowledge intensive service activities is that a client first contacting the service provider does not really know what he needs. Why not apply the tools that service designers use to empathize and define the problem, ex. empathy map? Respectively there are tools to be borrowed and implemented also in the stages of creating a personolized offering and implementing it.

As many tools of service design are ment to engage service buyer and to visualise the process they could also make the delivery of knowledge-intensive business service much more transparent and help the client to evaluate on the outcome value.

Strategic Management of Customer Relations

Stories by Leaders

are a series of experience exchange of Pärnu Konverentsid, where Estonian top executives will talk for 3 hours with other leaders, share their story in the open discussion with participants.

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In modern world customer-centered approach leads to success. “Strategic Management of Customer Relations” was the first of the leader stories in this spring’s conference theme. Ene Raja talked about her experiences.

In businesses where large number of customers do not have regular direct customer service experience the  service is perceived by the customer as an abstract of the fee to be paid.

In this case for an enterprise it is challenging to manage customer communication /loyalty and customer decision can be easily influenced by competition.

Command over customer experience becomes therefore highly important and should now be taken to the enterprise management level.

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The customer stays with the company, which provides to him good experience. Good experience management skills are for a service company the key for advantage today. Experience Management should not be random, it should be planned and managed carefully. Offer to your customer additional value, which is unexpected and would create a “wow-effect”!

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Do not expose the ignorance to your customer. TIP: customer is more satisfied with immediate response “we solve your problem in five days”, compared when the immediate response delayed and client receives your response and solution in three days. The customer wants to have control over the situation  – to know what and when are things happening with him/his question and when his problem is solved! This is often more important than quick (but not as quick as customer expects!) solution.

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Customer shares the positive experience, and even more, he shares the negative. Sharing the experience in social media has given the customer a significant position advantage. Compensate for the negative customer experience – it is cheaper and easier to have the situation resolved in favor of the client, rather than debate over the issue and degrade yourself publicly.

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Consumer expects kindness and friendliness, but he/she looks even more customer service expertise and competence to find the best solution and find it quickly. Trust service personnel and provide sufficiently broad mandate for decision-making – the limits within which employees can decide for themselves. Customers love today speed in decisions. This improves customer satisfaction, employee motivation, and company’s financial results.

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Distinction of the best pays off. Employees are different – recognize the best by prestigious remuneration. Evaluation principles should be clear and simple. Also, customers are different – sometimes it makes sense to abandon unprofitable customers to contribute more for the good. Create different service model for different customer segments!

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Communication with customers is mutual and two-sided – in addition to your telling, the client must be given word and you must hear it and RESPOND!

Customer communication in different media must always follow the basic direct communication rules: say hello, talk in direct speech, always respond to questions and say good-bye. As simple as such!

Ask for customer recommendations and link this result to your managers’ performance fee. This is the quickest way to teach your organization to listen your customers.

When asking customer recommendation (Net Promoter Score), it is really important (and smart) to provide feedback to the client, how your company uses the given recommendation and you get loyal customers without loyalty program! But when our loyal customer still leaves – then your price must be very wrong.

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Keep cost under control by smart development of e-solutions. Besides lower cost, e-channel provides in addition consistent service quality and good opportunities for additional sales.

The key for e-service is simplicity – customer expects easy and fast service. But … building a simple e-business solution is difficult task for a service provider.

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To each his own. Service design requires a different strategy for different national/ cultural environments. E.g. in Nordics customers can be on hold (queues) for a longer time period, in Baltics waiting in line more than half a minute would raise frustration; in South-Europeans prefer direct communication over e-channels, in Russia customers are satisfied receiving the necessary information from the telephone answering machine.

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