Monthly Archives: July 2013

Thoughts on Summer 2013 Services Conferences

by Mary Jo Bitner

QUIS1At QUIS reception in Karlstad. 
Above, left to right: Dr. Laurel Anderson (ASU), Dr. Mary Jo Bitner (ASU), 
Dr. Inger Roos (Karlstad University).
Below, left to right: Dr. Paul Fombelle (Northeastern University),
Daniele Mathras, PhD Student (ASU), Jon Engstrom, PhD Student (Linkoping University). 

Summer is “conference season” for those of us in the service research community, with at least four services conferences in summer 2013 alone – that I am aware of – occurring all over the world from Sweden, to Greece, Taiwan, and Las Vegas! This summer I have already had the opportunity to attend two of our international conferences: QUIS was held in Karlstad, Sweden in June, and the Frontiers in Service Conference was held in Taipei, Taiwan in July. Both were outstanding conferences and they reinforce the growth of our discipline as well as global nature of it. Over 25 different countries were represented at both QUIS and Frontiers. In addition, both conferences were highly interdisciplinary, highlighting the trends in our field. Attendees were from business disciplines (including marketing, operations, human resources, management), as well as from engineering, design, and computer science.

There were outstanding research papers presented at both conferences as well as plenary talks by respected academics and business leaders—across a wide range of topics, again reinforcing progressive trends in service. Topics ranged from the growing impact of technologies on service, to service design for enhancing customer experiences, to new business models for service and moving traditional manufacturing and technology companies into service growth modes. Cutting-edge research on employee and operational issues in service was also presented. Continue reading

It’s Time to Play! Leverage the Power of Games to Promote Service Outcomes

by Michael Wiles

“Life is more fun if you play games” – Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald

gamebannerHow do you engage your customers?  Motivate your employees?  Make it a game!  Service firms are increasingly turning to gamification to enhance consumer and employee outcomes.

It isn’t just teenage boys who care about games. Industry estimates are that over 70 percent of U.S. households play video games, and over 80 percent of gamers are adults. Further, around 40 percent of gamers are women. As video gaming has become more prevalent and ubiquitous on smart phones, individuals are becoming more accepting of game-like experiences in other contexts.

Broadly speaking, gamification refers to the inclusion of game design principles into the firm’s offerings to motivate specific behavior. Games are rule-based, with a clear goal, and provide rewards for success. Games are often social, making gamification a perfect component for firms’ social media offerings, but game principles can be embedded anywhere to promote participation. With games, individuals are motivated in part for fun of the experience and for a sense of achievement, but also because of the competitive nature of games and desire for status and rewards. Continue reading

Does Intangibility Make Service Innovation More Difficult?

Innovationby Nancy Stephens

Intangibility is one of the apparent ways in which services differ from products; unlike products, services cannot be seen or touched.  It occurred to me that as a consequence, people probably don’t sit around looking at services and thinking of ways to improve them the way they can do it with products.

I once worked on a project that involved researching U.S. patents and I was surprised to see how many patents are granted to imaginative people who have looked at a tangible object and decided that it could be better.  For example, Floyd Haws had difficulty handling the garden hose when he watered his California lawn, so he invented a “hose outlet support bracket” and was granted a patent on it in 2006.  Amy Harris earned a patent on a “removable crib mattress with detachable top pad” in 2000 to make it easier to put her baby to bed.  (Although such individuals have won patents, they have not necessarily won commercial success with their inventions.)

Is there a services equivalent to the productive musings of Floyd Haws and Amy Harris?  Do people sit around thinking about service processes and how they could be improved?  I would argue no, they do not and that is because the services are intangible.  It is so much easier to think about things that we can see right in front of us.  Yet, enabling ourselves to visualize services is possible. Continue reading