What would happen if we treated Service as a Product?

What would happen if we treated Service as a Product?

How would we design it, who would it appeal to, how would we price it, how would we promote it, is it exclusive to us? Importantly, what margin can we make out of it, what’s its ROI?

Pretty interesting questions and propositions actually. Imagine if we could redesign our businesses from the ground up with a product like this, how differently, or not, would we operate?
More questions and not enough space to explore the endless possibilities this proposition really provides. So, let’s look at it more broadly.

What does service look like currently, maybe something around having the right product in the right place, right quantity and right price, enough staff to shelve it, restock it, talk to customers about it, process the transaction and put it maybe in a bag or organise delivery and installation. What about online, remembering Amazon won the best service award over all major physical retailers in the US a few years ago, how does that work?

We realised the customers view of excellent service was securing the right product, at the right price and getting it delivered quickly. So, based on this understanding, service designed as a product should be pretty simple.

When we start with asking what do our customers want, researching through the plethora of means available to us, we think we get a good idea for what it should look like. Then we design our recruitment strategy, employment practices, rosters and fulfilment abilities around this understanding. Then pricing comes into the picture, salaries to sales % etc. Results determining our actual margin and ROI along the way. Hmm, starting to look a little more challenging than we thought. Also our customers’ expectations have moved on.

Back in reality, you hear statements like “we are going back to basics”, we all agree this is a good thing to do, albeit not all that easy to see through the digital smoke and new idea distractions to focus on them. I appreciate I could be accused of making all this sound too complicated, and it is. Retail is a constantly changing, challenging as well as exciting industry that requires a critical, laser like focus on the detail.

I think the one thing that if we could focus on in all this, that would make the most difference to our existing and new businesses, provide the best ROI and above all else, is exclusive to us, would be our people, our existing and new talent. In a perfect world, we would employ on attitude and personality, as we can teach and train everything else. Motivate our teams with our passion and achieving our collective vision, being part of the journey, painting the picture of what our successful future would look like when we get there. Inviting them to choose their ambition in playing a part in our winning team and brand.

Sounds like a great product actually, culturally challenging to achieve of course, but a simple view of what the basics of the perfect design could be about.
Martin Butler recently observed that Amazon doesn’t always kill the competition, the competition commits suicide! They view service as a product.

By Peter Knock, Advisor and Former-CEO, The Coop

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