10 May 2017

Exploring the Journey to Services

Do you know what your service journey looks like?

By Veronica Martinez, Chander Velu and Andy Neely

Many organisations when exploring their transition to Services ask themselves the question: ‘what does a service journey look like?’  At the Cambridge Service Alliance, this question also emerged when our Industry Partners met to discuss ‘the shift to services’ – among them Presidents, Vice Presidents and Directors of Caterpillar, Zoetis, GEA, IBM, BAE Systems and Pearson. Interestingly, around the table, none of the firms could articulate the lessons from their own service journeys in a comprehensive manner. This is not an uncommon issue in organisations embarking on the journey to provide services.

So, we setup an interdisciplinary team of academic and industrial partners to explore the Journey to Services. The concept itself is not new but certainly largely unexplored. Through 7 years of an in-depth study of three comparable firms and countless sets of workshops and interviews with other firms (for academic details please read our journal paper), we jointly discovered what a service journey looks like:

The Five Key Lessons You Need to Know about the Service Journey are:
  1. The service journey in industrial manufacturers is neither logical nor structured but much more emergent and intuitive in nature.
  2. Similar steps, different journeys. Some organisations followed similar steps but the sequence of these were different. Often the sequence of steps in the service journey is described as a ‘back and forth’ sequence – or trial and error. Exploited by choices, the typical examples include: the services are ready to be sold, but the sales training and/or incentives for selling services are missing. Services are offered to customers, customers buy them, but the accounting systems are set to manage product transactions and not service contracts. Services are designed, as products, consequently the service experience is missed and gradually the services fail.
  3. The evolution and coexistence of different services. Typically, in the first three years of the service journey, organisations incrementally evolve by offering basic to intermediate services. After the fourth year, organisations follow ‘the continuous evolution of the basic and intermediate services and the emergence of complex services’. Then, the coexistence of basic, intermediate and complex services varies across the service continuum.
  4. The pace of change. Once organisations embark in the service journey, they are in continuous ‘change’ (flux) as opposed to punctuated interventions of change. This is the continuous granular change at different functional levels throughout the organisation.
  5. Service Strategy: Seven associated stages of the service strategy model should be considered by organisations to manage their service journeys.
From our perspective, we think the understanding of the service journey has evolved significantly over the last years. This is the first framework that longitudinally maps the journey to services. Firms which have used the framework express more confidence in managing the transition process and are more prepared to handle the issues that they confront. In future, organisations urgently need to focus on the dynamic evolution of their service journeys, particularly on the proactive management of individual lifecycles of their services. As Joseph Schumpeter expressed – the importance to focus on the ‘creative destruction’ within their processes of transformation.

Read our monthly paper,  journal paper ‘Exploring the journey to services’ or listen to our podcast.


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