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 howardesign.com. Thanks!
From the article: "The context in which service is delivered and experienced has, in many respects, fundamentally changed. For instance, advances in technology, especially information technology, are leading to a proliferation of revolutionary services and changing how customers serve themselves before, during, and after purchase. To understand this changing landscape, the authors engaged in an international and interdisciplinary research effort to identify research priorities that have the potential to advance the service field and benefit customers, organizations, and society. The priority-setting process was informed by roundtable discussions with researchers affiliated with service research centers and networks located around the world and resulted in 12 service research priorities. For each priority, the authors identified important specific service topics and related research questions."
Examples: Rolls-Royce, Experio Lab, Zynga, Zappos, Mamma Mia, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, M-Pesa
From the article: "With the growth of mobile and social computing, interaction designers are increasingly being asked to design services and systems intended for societal change. In this paper, we argue that current interaction design approaches, inspired by user experience and user-centered design, are insufficient to appropriately take on these new challenges. We propose, instead, that our community considers a service design framing to complement what is already being done in the field. We describe the process of service design, and give examples of service design framings in several projects. We show that a service framing offers a systemic approach that better address the complex stakeholder relationships, yields outcomes in the form of product-service systems, and focuses on how value can be co-produced between customers and stakeholders."
Examples: Starbucks, Flipboard, Etsy, Mechanical Turk, Vine, Instagram, Tiramisu, The Snackbot, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, Shazam
From the article: "This article reports on the recent evolution of service design toward becoming transformational. Services are less discussed as design objects and more as means for supporting the emergence of a more collaborative, sustainable and creative society and economy. The transformative role of design is combined with the potential transformative role of services. The term “transformation design” as set forth by Burns, Cottam, Vanstone, and Winhall (2006), has been associated with work within communities for socially progressive ends, but also with work within organisations to introduce a human-centred design culture. The intrinsic element of co-production of services in transformation design necessitates the concomitant development of staff, the public and the organisation. In this way, service design is entering the fields of organisational studies and social change with little background knowledge of their respective theories and principles. This article proposes the adoption and adaptation of principles and practices from organisational development and community action research into service design. Additionally, given the huge responsibilities associated with transformative practices, designers are urged to introduce reflexivity into their work to address power and control issues in each design encounter."
From the article: "Extensive study of the world's best service companies reveals the principles on which they're built."
Examples: Walmart, Starbucks, Commerce Bank, Progressive, Intuit, Airlines, Nestlé, Zipcar, Cleveland Clinic, Shouldice Hospital, Yum Brands, Omnicom, GE, Walmart, Starbucks, Commerce Bank, Progressive, Intuit, Airlines, Nestlé, Zipcar, Cleveland Clinic, Shouldice Hospital, Yum Brands, Omnicom, GE
From the article: "This paper explores the customer experience paradigm as it pertains to service operations strategy and design. First, we operationally define and discuss the concept of customer experience. In this context, we propose a reframing of the strategic role of operations strategy as one of choreographing experience-centric services. We then introduce the concept of services as destinations as an emerging business model for classifying experiential service strategies. [...] Using this conceptual typology, we develop five propositions and use multiple cases to illustrate firms' use of these experience strategies."
Examples: Winter Sports Resort, Shopping Mall, Department Store, Bookstore, Tourism
From the article: "Recent research projects have looked for social innovations, i.e., people creating solutions outside the mainstream patterns of production and consumption. An analysis of these innovations indicates the emergence of a particular kind of service configuration—defined here as relational services—which requires intensive interpersonal relations to operate. Based on a comparative analysis between standard and relational services, we propose to the Service Design discipline an interpretative framework able to reinforce its ability to deal with the interpersonal relational qualities in services, indicating how these qualities can be understood and favored by design activities, as well as the limits of this design intervention. Martin Buber's conceptual framework is presented as the main interpretative basis. Buber describes two ways of interacting ("I-Thou" and "I-It"). Relational services are those most favoring "I-Thou" interpersonal encounters.
Examples: Living Room Restaurant, Walking Bus, School Bus, McDonalds
From the article: "Service businesses struggle with a reality that is foreign to manufacturers: Customers "interfere" with their operations. To deliver consistent quality at sustainable cost, companies must learn to manage that involvement."
Examples: Grocery Store, Call Center, Emergency Room, Diner, Cleaning Service, Law Firm, College, eBay, Dell, Starbucks, Zipcar, Tiffany's, Southwest Airlines, Gateway, First Union, Netflix
From the article: "Most industrial manufacturers realize that the real money isn't in products but in services. Companies such as General Electric and IBM have famously made the transition: A large proportion of their revenues and margins come from providing value-added services to customers. It is not enough, the authors say, just to provide services. Businesses must now provide "smart services"--building intelligence (awareness and connectivity) into the products themselves. Four business models will emerge in this new, networked world. Embedded innovator, solutionist, aggregator and synergist. Woe to the company that takes none of these paths; it'll soon find its former customers locked in--and happily--to other smart service providers."
Examples: Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, Air Products and Chemicals, Air Liquide, GE Healthcare, GE Industrial Capital Equipment, Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, Honeywell, Eaton Electrical, Gardner Denver, Electrolux, Rockwell Automation, Philips
From the article: "In a world of commoditized products, companies are turning to service offerings for growth. The key to success involves redefining markets in terms of customer activities and outcomes, not products and services."
Examples: Kodak, Ofoto, Noble House Custom Tailors, Batesville Casket Co., Florists, Bernina Sewing, McAfee, General Motors, OnStar, iFit.com, Costco Wholesale, eBay Inc., Elance Inc., United Parcel Service, Nike, DuPont, Flixrunner.com, Pizza, John Deere and Co., Smith Cogeneration Management, Gevalia Kaffe
From the article: "New developments in health care, higher education, and the law are just the beginning. Most people think of disruptive innovations--the simple, cheap, convenient advancements that create new growth--as tangible products. However, service-related businesses face the same circumstances that drive disruption in product-related businesses, such as the pressure to improve to serve leading customers better and the presence of "nonconsumers" who seek to do for themselves what they historically paid an expert to do. As such, service-related businesses teem with the potential for disruption."
Examples: Health Care, Education, Law, Kmart, Wal-Mart, QuickMedx, University of Phoenix, Concord Law School, eLawForum
From the article: "The loss of service jobs, which currently account for over 80% of private sector employment in the United States, is not merely an American phenomenon. The fact is that service sector jobs in all developed countries are at risk. We are in the middle of a fundamental change, which is that services are being industrialized. Three factors in particular are combining with outsourcing and offshoring to drive that transformation: The first is increasing global competition. The second is automation. The third is self-service. As these forces combine to sweep across the service sector, executives of all stripes must start thinking about arming and defending themselves, just as their manufacturing cousins did a generation ago."
Examples: Travel Agent, Diagnostic Imaging, Edmunds.com, Wells Fargo Bank, Dell, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Concierge Services, Financial Services, Hotels, NTT DoCoMo, Thompson Publishing, IndyMac Bank
From the article: "Service processes require the participation of the customer: Without the customer, service processes cannot take place. The fact that the service provider is dependent on customer participation causes difficulties in managing service processes efficiently and effectively because customer's contributions can only be influenced by the provider up to a certain extent. The article will stress the management of service process efficiency. Therefore, a production-theoretic view will be used to identify the sources of efficiency problems. Based on this approach, we will differentiate between customer-induced and customer-independent acivities for a better efficiency management. The well-known blueprinting technique will be used in a revised version based on the production-theoretic approach to identify starting points for improving process efficiency."
Examples: Banks, Acquisition
From the article: "Marketing was originally built on a goods-centered, manufacturing-based model of economic exchange developed during the Industrial Revolution. Since its beginning, marketing has been broadening its perspective to include the exchange of more than manufactured goods. The sub-discipline of service marketing has emerged to address much of this broadened perspective, but it is built on the same goods and manufacturing-based model. The influence of this model is evident in the prototypical characteristics that have been identified as distinguishing services from goods — intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity, and perishability. The authors argue that these characteristics (a) do not distinguish services from goods, (b) only have meaning from a manufacturing perspective, and (c) imply inappropriate normative strategies. They suggest that advances made by service scholars can provide a foundation for a more service-dominant view of all exchange from which more appropriate normative strategies can be developed for all of marketing."
Examples: hospitals, Dell, airlines, banks, hotels, theaters, Cannondale, Acumin, Land Rover, Levis, Harley Davidson
From the article: "In this article, Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke points out the challenges of applying the discipline of formal R&D processes to services: Because a service often exists only in the moment of its delivery to a customer, it is difficult to isolate in a traditional laboratory. And since many services are tailored to individual buyers at the point of purchase, they can't be tested through large samples. As a result, experiments with new services are most useful when they are conducted live--with real customers engaged in real transactions. But live tests magnify the cost of failure; an experiment that doesn't work may harm customer relationships and even the brand. Given such challenges, it's no surprise that most service companies have not established rigorous, ongoing R&D processes, Thomke says. Here the author provides an in-depth look at a five-step process that Bank of America has used to create new service concepts for retail banking."
Example: Bank of America
From the article: "When customers lack the expertise to judge a company's offerings, they naturally turn detective, scrutinizing people, facilities, and processes for evidence of quality. The Mayo Clinic understands this and carefully manages that evidence to convey a simple, consistent message: The needs of the patient come first. From the way it hires and trains employees to the way it designs its facilities and approaches its care, the Mayo Clinic provides patients and their families concrete evidence of its strengths and values--an approach that has allowed it to build what is arguably the most powerful brand in health care. Marketing professors Leonard Berry and Neeli Bendapudi conducted a five-month study of evidence management at the Mayo Clinic. Their experiences led them to identify best practices applicable to just about any company, in particular those that sell intangible or technically complex products."
Examples: Mayo Clinic, Ritz Carlton
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
From the article: "In the design discipline the methodological implications of product/service systems rarely have been discussed even though design components play a critical role in the development of PSS. This paper explores the disciplinary domains that may offer methodological suggestions for the design of PSS. The first part of the paper focuses on the design of PSS from a designer's perspective, emphasizing the role of designers in developing innovative PSS. The second part outlines methodological tools that can be used when dealing with specific aspects of the design activity focused on PSS."
From the article: "From coffee bar to caffeine kingdom, Starbucks proves relationships are as important as physical assets."
From the article: "The service concept plays a key role in service design and development. But while the term is used frequently in the service design and new service development literature, surprisingly little has been written about the service concept itself and its important role in service design and development. The service concept defines the how and the what of service design, and helps mediate between customer needs and an organization’s strategic intent. We define the service concept and describe how it can be used to enhance a variety of service design processes. As illustrations here, we apply the service concept to service design planning and service recovery design processes. Employing the service concept as an important driver of service design decisions raises a number of interesting questions for research which are discussed here."
From the article: "Behavioral science offers new insights into better service management. In this article, the authors translate findings from behavioral-science research into five operating principles: 1) finish strong; 2) get the bad experiences out of the way early; 3) segment the pleasure, combine the pain; 4) build commitment through choice; and 5) give people rituals and stick to them. Ultimately, only one thing really matters in a service encounter--the customer's perception of what occurred. This article will help you engineer your service encounters to enhance your customers' experiences during the process as well as their recollections of the process after it is completed."
Examples: Cruise Lines, Airline Baggage Pickup, Malaysian Airlines, Health Care, Business Consulting, Phone Menus, Trade Shows, Walt Disney, Banks, Hotels, Copier Repair, McKinsey Consulting
From the article: "Examines service provider behaviors that influence customer evaluation of service encounters. Develops a list of service provider behaviors relevant to customer evaluation of a service encounter. Examines performance of these behaviors in specific restaurant and medical transactions. Then examines the relationship between performance of each behavior and encounter satisfaction. Behaviors are grouped, using factor analysis from consumer surveys, into three dimensions: concern, civility, and congeniality. Each is defined using multiple behavioral measures. Measures include concepts not widely addressed in current services literature, including conversation, respect, genuineness, attitude and demeanor. These dimensions and constituent behaviors provide a framework for future research and service training and management."
Examples: Medical, Restaurant
From the article: "Considers the role of non-verbal communication in consumers' evaluation of service encounters. Non-verbal communication has been extensively studies in the psychology and psychotherapy disciplines and has been shown to have a central effect on participants' perceptions of an event. As services are essentially interpersonal interactions it follows that non-verbal communication will play a major part in service evaluation. Uses an experimental methodology based on video scenarios to demonstrate the effect of this type of communication on consumers. The results indicate significant differences in respondents' reactions to the scenarios according to the non-verbal behavior of the service provider."
From the article: "In this paper, we describe "Experience Prototyping" as a form of prototyping that enables design team members, users and clients to gain first-hand appreciation of existing or future conditions through active engagement with prototypes. We use examples from commercial design projects to illustrate the value of such prototypes in three critical design activities: understanding existing experiences, exploring design ideas and in communicating design concepts."
Examples: Snowboarding, Cardiac Telemetry, Marine ROV, Passenger Train, Airplane Cabin, Television Surfing, Photo Sharing, Kiss Communicator
From the article: "Since its launch in 1985, SERVQUAL has become a widely adopted technology for measuring and managing service quality. Recently, a number of theoretical and operational concerns have been raised concerning SERVQUAL. Reviews these concerns and proposes a research agenda."
From the article: "This article deals with service development from a quality perspective. Our point of departure is to build in the right quality from the start. The article presents a new frame of reference for new service development based on empirical studies in Sweden. It argues that the main task of service development is to create the right generic prerequisites for the service. This means an efficient customer process, that is to say the process must be adapted to the logic of the customer !v behaviour and a good customer outcome, i.e., the service is associated with quality. We distinguish three main types of development: the development of the service concept, the development of the service system (resource structure) and the development of the service process."
Example: Swedish Telecom
From the article: "In the new economics of service, frontline workers and customers need to be the center of management concern. Successful service managers heed the factors that drive profitability in this new service paradigm--investment in people, technology that supports frontline workers, revamped recruiting and training practices, and compensation linked to performance. The service-profit chain, developed from analyses of successful service organizations, establishes relationships between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity. The authors provide a service-profit chain audit that helps companies determine what drives their profit and suggests actions that can lead to long-term profitability."
Examples: Pizza, Banc One, ServiceMaster, USAA, Taco Bell, MCI, Southwest Airlines, Xerox, Progressive
From the article: "A typology of service organizations is presented and a conceptual framework is advanced for exploring the impact of physical surroundings on the behaviors of both customers and employees. The ability of the physical surroundings to faciliate achievement of organizational as well as marketing goals is explored. Literature from diverse disciplines provides theoretical grounding for the framework, which services as a base for focused propositions. By examining the multiple strategic roles that physical surroundings can exert in service organizations, the author highlights key managerial and research implications."
Examples: Hotels, Restaurants, Professional Offices, Banks, Retail Stores, Hospitals, Ticketron, Federal Express, Supermarket, 7-11, Cinnamon Roll Bakeries, Airports, Club Med, Benihana, Scandinavian Airline Systems, Fast Food Chain, Supermarkets, Department Stores, ATMs, Miniature Golf
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
From the article: "A company's competitiveness derives from its core competencies and core products. Core competence is the collective learning in the organization, especially the capacity to coordinate diverse production skills and integrate streams of technologies. First companies must identify core competencies, which provide potential access to a wide variety of markets, make a contribution to the customer benefits of the product, and are difficult for competitors to imitate. Next companies must reorganize to learn from alliances and focus on internal development."
Examples: Citibank, NEC, GTE, Canon, Honda, 3M, GE, Philips, JVC, Kodak, Xerox
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
From the article: "It is time for U.S. companies to raise their service aspirations significantly and for U.S. executives to declare war on mediocre service and set their sights on consistently excellent service, say the authors. This goal is within reach if managers will provide the necessary leadership, remember that the sole judge of service quality is the customer, and implement what the authors call the "five service imperatives."
Examples: Deluxe Corporation, Southwest Airlines, Sewell Village Cadillac, Palais Royal Apparel, Nordstroms, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Century 21, Walt Disney World, Friendly Bank, PHH FleetAmerica, Aid Association for Lutherans, Preston Trucking Company, Books and Co., Florida Power & Light, British Airways, Wachovia Bank & Trust, First Bank System, American Express
From the article: "Mistakes are a critical part of every service. Hard as they try, even the best service companies can't prevent the occasional late flight, burned steak, or missed delivery. The fact is, in services, often performed in the customer's presence, errors are inevitable. But dissatisfied customers are not. While companies may not be able to prevent all problems, they can learn to recover from them. A good recovery can turn angry, frustrated customers into loyal ones. It can, in fact create more goodwill than if things had gone smoothly in the first place."
Examples: Club Med, Maine Savings Bank, Marriott Hotel, British Airways, Domino's Pizza, Stew Leonards, US Air, DFW Airport, Sheraton Hotel, Smith & Hawken, First Union National Bank, US Secret Service, Sonesta Hotel, Montgomery Ward, McDonald's, Federal Express
From the article: "Over the past decade design has emerged as a potent economic force in both the manufacturing and service sectors of Western industry. The notion of technology-led is now being replaced by technology- and design-led. The emergence of design, however, has been problematic for industry. Technological developments are relatively clear-cut: design developments are not. The formulation of effective design policy and the management of design are fraught with difficulties for companies. The research reported in this paper sought to investigate current practice and attitudes towards the management of design in British industry. This involved a survey of senior managers from major companies in Britain. A similar survey has been carried out in the USA which will be reported in a later paper. The main findings to emerge were (a) the existence of four distinct types of company, each with their own approach to design, (b) the pronounced effect a design manager has upon attitudes within a company and (c) the clear distinction between the manufacturing and service sectors. The practical implications of the research are discussed here with reference to the management of design in companies."
Examples: London Business School, Manufacturing Industry, Service Industry
From the article: "Quality of service is becoming an increasingly important differentiator between competing businesses in the retailing sector. In today's fiercely competitive marketplace, characterized by similarly priced, look-alike product offerings from a variety of retailing firms, clear winners will be the ones that provide excellent service quality. The paper describes the development and potential applications of a multiple-item instrument--called SERVQUAL--for measuring customer perceptions of service quality.
Examples: Appliance Repair and Maintenance, Banks, Long-distance Telephone, Credit card
From the article: "This paper describes the outcomes of a one-year pilot research study and outlines the routes for the two-year wider study to follow.
The research was prompted by the growing interest in the UK in design and its contribution to business performance, and the need to replace anecdote about 'best practice' in organizing and utilizing design with information about more 'general' practice.
After defining design as 'a course of action for the development of an artefact' and suggesting that design activity pervades organizations, the paper describes the methodology used to examine how design is organized. Using matrices to explore the interaction of design with other business functions the report suggests that 'silent design' (that is design by people who are not designers and are not aware that they are participating in design activity) goes on in all the organizations examined, even those which have formal design policies and open design activities.
It is the scope and nature of 'silent design', and its conflict and/or cooperation with formal design activity, which will form the basis for the hypothesis on which the wider investigation will be built."
Examples: London Business School, Design Council
From the article: "The service sector contributes substantially to the US gross national product, however, little effort has been directed toward applying the rational management techniques so common in the goods-producing sector to the design and operation of services. It has been assumed that good service is a function of the particular style of an entrepreneur or business and that it cannot be quantitatively analyzed. A method is presented to turn the trial-and-error process of service design into a rational, systematic process. In designing a service, the processes constituting the service must be identified, areas of potential service breakdown isolated, the amount of time required for service delivery determined, and a standard of service delivery time must be established to ensure profitability. Alternative methods of delivery should be examined, and means of highlighting tangible evidence of the service for consumers should be identified. The service should make customers feel special, requiring hiring, training, and performance standards which stress courtesy and credibility."
Examples: H&R Block, McDonalds, Walt Disney, Corner Shoeshine, Discount Brokerage
From the article: "Suggests that behavioural hypothesis, which rearranges or alters any element, by design or accident, will change the overall entity, just like changing bonds or atoms in a molecule creates a new substance, and this is known as molecular modelling — and this can help the marketer to better understand any market entity. States that the first step towards rational service design is a system for visualizing this phenomenon, enabling services to be given proper position and weight in the market entity context. Proposes that people are essential evidence of a service and how they are dressed or act has a bearing on this. Identifies benefits, standards and tolerances, and discusses modifications using tables and figures for emphasis. Concludes that modelling and blueprinting offer a system for marketers which can lead to the kind of experimentation and management necessary to service innovation and development."
Examples: Amusement Park, Fast Food Chain, Automobile Transportation, Airline Travel, Dry Cleaners, Tax Return Preparation, McDonalds, Corner Shoeshine
From the article: "It is dangerous to take the marketing concepts that apply to products, and try to transfer them to services. Products are tangible; services are not-and that makes a lot of difference in how you market them."
Examples: Airline Travel, Automobile Transportation, Citibank, McDonalds
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