Johnston, Clark & Shulver write about the service concept mainly from the customers’ perspective. They also allude to relevant others (specifically, ‘business leaders’) when discussing the service experience, outcomes and operations. However, this only seems to be a subsidiary concern.
Their version of a service concept does a good job of summarising key aspects of a service in an informal manner — and I use it in this way. However, more structure is clearly needed when going beyond that informal summary.
We need to think about employees (more generally, service providers) first. If we take good care of employees, they will usually take good care of customers, too. So we need to think about the employee experience, outcomes for employees, and the value a service creates for employees as much as about the customer experience, outcomes and value.
But other people are involved in or affected by the service. These may include others in the organisation providing the service as well as people external to it such as investors. Furthermore, there may be regulators, the community the organisation operates in, and even society at large (think ecological or ethical externalities).
When thinking about customers (or clients), we ought to also think about non-clients and anti-clients. Tom Graves (2010, loc. 254-256) describes non-clients as “people who are not and will probably never be customers of ours, such as people who live in a different country than one we serve” and anti-clients as “people who don’t trade with us in the normal sense but who don’t like us or what we do”. (Also see Tom’s blog posts on anti-clients here.)
A good way of approaching this is creating a map of actors and their needs or stakeholders and their interests. See also Service ecology maps and the enterprise canvas on my old blog as well as Enterprise Design Framework: Big Picture on this blog.
A conversation with Tom Graves contributed to this post.
Graves, T. (2010) Mapping the enterprise. leanpub.com.
Johnston, R., Clark, G. & Shulver, M. (2012) Service operations management: improving service delivery. 4th ed., Pearson.
Johnston, R. & Clark, G. (2005) Service operations management: improving service delivery. 2nd ed., Pearson.