Volvo’s model for service innovation doesn’t include any salespeople, only “owls” (Jonasson, 2014). These “owls” hears well and sees well, but have very small mouths, and don’t speak much. This is a very nice analogy for showing the service logic mindset:

  1. Listen to your customers.
  2. Understand their needs and desires.
  3. Provide them with a solution.

Rather than trying to sell them the one product/service you have. As much as I like this perspective, the fact that Volvo talks about this highlights a big problem: The size of the company limits the possibilities they have to provide the customer with what they need/desire. Let me take a small IT-consultancy as an example. We can call this fictious company “New Solutions”. Let’s say it’s run by two old friends, who are actively working in the company, and 5 other employees with different levels of experience. Let’s also say that the owners have started to embrace the service logic perspective. They go to a meeting with a prospective client and hold a short workshop to understand their needs and desires. Being very talented at analysing needs and desires they can see that their prospective client actually doesn’t need a new IT-system, but they need a change in the atmosphere in the office, where a lot of people feel stressed, not good enough and often stay home from work. Now, even though the owners of New Solutions can see that their prospective client needs competence that they do not have, they might be tempted to deliver a new IT system anyways. They still need the money to pay their employees.

A small consultancy company will obviously have a limitied amount of competences. But the small company needs money to stay alive. When it finds needs/desires that it cannot take care of it might be very tempting to try to convince the customer that they actually need a service from them. Even though they don’t. For a large corporation it is of course possible to start up or aqcuire a division that delivers the service/product in question, but for a smaller company the “service logic way” might be to give the customer to someone else. I believe this is a major challenge for customere centered businesses such as UX design or service design.

References

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