Wednesday, 3 December 2008


I have been trying to understand Service Marketing as one of the major component of the theories around service management. Now I have a confession to make... it seems that Service Marketing, somehow like Service Design, is growing into this vague grey area where everything becomes a part of Service Marketing.

In The Evolution and Future of Service, Fisk and Grove argue that the science of studying service systems starts in the study of Service Marketing. The marketing managers are the first ones devoted to improving the situation of angry and unsatisfied service consumers in service operations. The study of customer needs and the implementation of all kinds of marketing tool that influence customer behaviours in the service system, slowly extended into the involvement of other subjects such as service engineering, information system, human resource management, financial analysis, policy science, even social science. Gradually, the publications on the topic of Service Marketing seem to have a say on everything in the service system, from employee enrolment, business strategy, to branch office interior environment. In his book on customer relationship, Gronroos proposes this idea of everyone in the organisation taking the responsibility of a ‘part time marketer’. Interestingly, Gronroos’ idea looks very similar to the concept of ‘silent designer’ – a popular concept used to describe the managers who takes the design jobs in organisations.

I wonder if in the real world the marketing employees, even marketing managers, have such a big impact on the service system development. It seems that the role of putting together a cross-departmental cooperation is still often left to the CEOs. A vision that requires everyone in the service system to share cannot be achieved just as simple as coming up with the brightest idea around any single stakeholder, such as customer. I am confused, yet, I love the word ‘nudge’ used by Lisa, a bright colleague of mine, when it comes to describe the designer’s impact in multi-discipline project on not-so-design topics.

Ok, here is the question I really want to ask, what do service designers do to maximise the impacts that they expect on the service system, after they become the ones who know everything about the customer?
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