I’ll never forget how frustrated I was in my first MBA marketing course. I was working in bank marketing at the time, and the course focused on consumer packaged goods and industrial products that had little relevance to what I was doing on-the-job. Back then (in the late 1970’s) there was no mention of marketing “intangible” services. Now, fortunately, there are complete textbooks, courses, and even graduate concentrations in services marketing.
As my career evolved, so did the emergence of services marketing as a field of study – one that I eagerly embraced in my professional development. The applied science of services marketing and management has grown tremendously thanks to a strong international academic-practitioner partnership.
So I’m happy to share the latest service research priorities developed by academics and business executives that will drive thought leadership to advance the science and practice of service. Why is this important? Because “all businesses are service businesses.”
Here are the top ten overarching service research priorities compiled by the Center for Services Leadership that spearheaded this important endeavor:
• Fostering service infusion and growth.
• Improving well-being through transformative service.
• Creating and maintaining a service culture.
• Stimulating service innovation.
• Enhancing service design.
• Optimizing service networks and value chains.
• Effectively branding and selling services.
• Enhancing the service experience through co-creation.
• Measuring and optimizing the value of service.
• Leveraging technology to advance service.
While all these research priorities are important, here are the two that I’m most excited about (along with related topics identified for further exploration).
Creating and maintaining a service culture:
1. Recruiting, training, and rewarding associates for a sustained service culture.
2. Developing a service mind-set in product-focused organizations.
3. Creating a learning service organization by harnessing employee and customer knowledge.
4. Keeping a service focus as an organization grows, matures, and changes.
5. Globalizing a service organization’s culture across different countries.
Effectively branding and selling services:
1. Effectively branding service and solutions and identifying ways to assess brand value.
2. Developing consistent brand experiences across touch points.
3. Harnessing social media’s impact on service brands.
4. Achieving effective solution selling and defining the new role of the sales force.
5. Forging closer relationships between employees and the brand.
You can learn more in the Research Priorities for the Science of Service CSL Business Report 2010.
Regardless of which topic(s) appeal to you, the study of these “global, interdisciplinary, and business-relevant research priorities” will help advance the science and practice of service management to the benefit of business and consumers.