This list represents a summary of the past forty years of service design literature. The citations were compiled from the Emergence conference at Carnegie Mellon University as well as the Designing for Services project in the UK, service design syllabi at CMU and independent research. I've included the abstracts and introductions to the papers and cross-referenced examples and concepts so that it's easy to follow the development of ideas such as "service blueprinting" across multiple papers.

Select any underlined term to filter the list, showing only papers that share that particular concept, example, author, journal or decade. If you'd like to help fill in the gaps by suggesting other canonical papers, e-mail the citations to service at Thanks!

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The Industrialization of Service
Harvard Business Review, 1976
Theodore Levitt
From the article: "The introduction of hard, soft, or hybrid technologies into service areas is the beginning of the industrialization of service. The key point is to increase the volume of service to a magnitude sufficient to achieve efficiency and to employ systems and technologies which produce reliable, rapid, and low-cost service results. Various cases illustrate problems of paperwork, service repairs, selling, and specialization, when implementing this management rationality. Service industrialization requires a set of processes and management that is much different from that used in the functional production of goods."

Examples: Supermarkets, Fast Food, American Express, H&R Block, The Damon Corporation, Health Mainenance Organizations, Ambulatory Surgical Facility, Transamerica Title Insurance Company, Shoe Repair

Compare with:
Will You Survive the Services Revolution?
The Service Encounter: Diagnosing Favorable and Unfavorable Incidents
Journal of Marketing, 1990
Mary Jo Bitner
From the article: "The service encounter frequently is the service from the customer's point of view. Using the critical incident method, the authors collected 700 incidents from customers of airlines, hotels, and restaurants. The incidents were categorized to isolate the particular events and related behaviors of contact employees that cause customers to distinguish very satisfactory service encounters from very dissatisfactory ones. Key implications for managers and researchers are highlighted."

Examples: Airlines, Hotels, Restaurants, Life Insurance

Compare with:
SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Service Quality
Service Behaviors that Lead to Satisfied Customers
Want to Perfect your Company's Service? Use Behavioral Science
An Empirical Investigation of the Impact of Non Verbal Communication on Service Evaluation
Refinement and Reassessment of the SERVQUAL Scale
Journal of Retailing, 1991
A. Parasuraman
From the article: "In a previous article we presented SERVQUAL, a multiple-item scale for measuring service quality. In the present article, we discuss findings from a follow-up study in which we refined SERVQUAL and replicated it in five different customer samples. We also compare our findings with those of other researchers who have recently employed and evaluated SERVQUAL. On the basis of insights from this comparative discussion, we offer directions for future SERVQUAL research and applications."

Examples: Banks, Insurance, Long-distance Telephone

Compare with:
SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Service Quality
The Lean Service Machine
Harvard Business Review, 2003
Cynthia Swank
From the article: "Lean production is built around the concept of continuous-flow processing--a departure from traditional production systems, in which large batches are processed at each step. Jefferson Pilot Financial (JPF) appointed a "lean team" to reengineer its New Business unit's operations, beginning with the creation of a "model cell"--a fully functioning microcosm of JPF's entire process. This approach allowed managers to experiment and smooth out the kinks while working toward an optimal design. The team applied lean-manufacturing practices, including placing linked processes near one another, balancing employees' workloads, posting performance results, and measuring performance and productivity from the customer's perspective. The results were so impressive that JPF is rolling out similar systems across many of its operations."

Examples: Jefferson Pilot Financial, Insurance, Toyota

Compare with:
R&D Comes to Services: Bank of America's Pathbreaking Experiments
Lean Consumption