Some of the world's oldest professions largely operate as they have for decades, and in some cases, centuries. While technology has changed some processes, far less has been done to create new value through innovative service experiences.
1) Starting with the User
For your innovations to truly create new value, insights have to come from users themselves -- intimately knowing their values, habits, and pain points is essential. Too often, innovation is the result of stakeholder meetings that propose what they think the market needs, with little to no evaluation of those assumptions until significant resources have already been invested. Start with the user. Knowing how people interact with your services reduces the risk of innovation flops, and increases the chances that something new and surprising will surface that can be of mutual value.
2) Technology isn't Everything
Yes, some of the most impactful innovations of the last decade have been technological in nature, but not all service innovations are. Creating new value through service experiences can be done by using existing technology in new ways, or without technology at all, by focusing on improving or re-designing traditional service processes.
Take legal bills for example. Simplifying the presentation of the information by showing the client only what they really care about can have a large impact on your brand's perception at the end of the service journey - the most important part of it. Research shows that people tend to remember emotional high points, so planning innovations around both basic and emotional needs will ensure that you’re effectively managing those highs and lows.
3) Old Services, New Markets
Often, we're just too close to our own way of doing things to recognize potential value in new or under-serviced markets. For example, Management pioneer Peter Drucker recalls in his book Entrepreneurship and Innovation how at the turn of the last century, art became accessible to more than just the aristocracy. The middle and upper-middle classes were starting to view art as an investment, but at the time, insurance did not yet exist to protect those investors. By identifying an unmet need, one innovator went on to create a large brokerage firm in a market that he had completely cornered.
The only way to access these kinds of innovations is through the abstract thinking that is native to design thinking, service design, and other iterative and collaborative approaches to innovation.
4) New services, Old Markets
Conversely, unmet needs across all industries worth trillions of dollars are just waiting to be unlocked. By identifying service users’ needs, and matching those needs to organizational resources and capabilities, you can create entirely new offerings, or new ways to offer existing services. This creates new value for the user and the firm, but also differentiates your brand in an increasingly saturated and competitive global market.
Apple is famous for creating entire ecosystems of services around a single, historically stale product. The iPod could have been just like a Walkman, but by identifying what people really wanted, and taking a risk, they created iTunes, unrivalled for nearly a decade.
5) Employee Experiences Matter Too
This is a hugely important and frequently missing link when it comes to creating and sustaining value. Your employees are among your most valuable assets. Not only are unhappy employees expensive to keep and difficult to retain, they also contribute to your overall brand experience, and ensuing perceptions of value.
If the processes or systems that employees are using are at odds with natural work flow or broader organizational goals, your value in the eyes of the user will decline. This can manifest its self is numerous ways, from processes that require a client to provide the same information multiple times, to frustrated service agents struggling to complete a request. Planning your employee’s experiences is as crucial as public-facing value creation projects, if not more!
It’s a rare opportunity to have direct and sustained contact with those who procure your services and co-create your brand. By getting to know your users more deeply, you’ll find new passion for your work, and the ways it can change the lives of people who rely on your expertise.