from my colleague Raymund Lin, PhD of Taiwan

Winning the Service Game, Revisiting the Rules by Which People Co-Create Value

This chapter emphasizes people (customers, employees, managers) in the context where consumer services are produced and delivered.
It is argued that people are still a prominent key to success in service and that should be fully recognized in the increasingly technical sophistication of service science.

While customer value co-creation is fundamental in service science, it is highlighted that co-creation is most likely to effectively occur when an appropriate psycho-social context is created, and such a context is the result of understanding the complexities of the people who are a central component of a service delivery system.

The authors (Schnieder and Bowen) try to explain the complexities of the service delivery system by defining it as a “game between persons” and revealing rules of the game. A winning service organization must master the rules of the game, which are defined in three tiers: customer tier, boundary tier and coordination tier.

The astonishing fact mentioned in the paper is about research done by Birdie et al. (2008) showing that none of the operational practices examined were directly related to productivity. On the contrary, human resources (HR) management practices, like empowerment, training and teamwork, do improve business performance. Based on this core concept of “people-centered service game”, many rules of the game are related to HR practices, for instance, in boundary tier:

Rule 24. Hire based on how people behave in the hiring process.
Rule 25. Hire the right personality types (rigorously).
Rule 27. Know that informal training = learning the culture.
Rule 32. Honor employee psychological contracts to enhance service quality for customers.

Moreover, the goal of the coordination layer is also about creating a service climate or culture such that all functions and subsystems in the firm see service quality as the reason of forming the entire organization. The word, coordination, is used instead of management, to show that you cannot “manage” a service experience once it unfolds. Unlike a manufacturing environment, where the production process can be stopped to make corrections, a service experience unfolds as a whole without intervention in service delivery. Therefore, creating a service climate and coordinating various parties in organization in delivering the best service experience to customers is very important and worthy of an entire tier of rules for it.

In summary, people are key to the winning of a service game, and a service researcher cannot overlook the need to understand the complexities and rules in such a people-centered service game before developing a comprehensive theory for service science.

Raymund Lin, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
IBM Research Collaboratory, Taiwan

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