Customer experience (CX) became sort of a “buzz word” in recent years, both in the fields of marketing and design. Simply described as a customer’s internal response to interaction with a company through multiple touchpoints (Meyer & Schwager 2007), CX became a promising research avenue in a pursuit of long lasting customer relationships. Additional arguments of its importance come from industry reports highlighting CX as the top priority for business and technology leaders around the globe (Forrester 2015). With academics and practitioners alike recognizing its importance, it is not surprising that the Marketing Science Institute listed CX as one of the leading 2016-2018 Research Priorities (“RP2: Delivering integrated, real-time, relevant experiences in context”; MSI 2016).
Researchers thus seek to uncover triggers of these subjective customer reactions and hope to find novel ways to design service systems and assure superior customer experiences. With an emerging complexity of the service landscape, arising from a proliferation of technology, customer empowerment, together with an ever increasing interconnectedness, today’s focus is shifting from dyadic service provider–customer interactions to a network perspective. Due to their prevalence, value networks are gaining more attention, yet remain under researched. Ranging from simple networks of communication to more complex configurations of multiple stakeholders, technology, and information, value networks promise to be a fruitful research ground.
As a simple illustration, imagine a scenario of the elderly care. With recent European Commission forecasts predicting a staggering 18% – 28% growth of the elderly (65+) segment by 2060, the service systems revolving around elderly care urge for prompt, innovative solutions to improve the well-being of the elderly, and to ease the stress for both, formal (i.e., professional service providers) and informal (i.e., family and friends) care networks.
A promising innovation to address these challenges is provided by recent developments in robotic and assistive technologies. Social service robots entering an elderly person’s home can be seen as a disturbance of this system, urging us to develop novel measures to detect the gap between customer expectations and their experiences. Understanding where and how the value is created, hindered, or destroyed, becomes an imperative for service providers of networked solutions. Here it is not enough just to have a better understanding of the experience of value from the elderly perspective, but also from the perspective of their informal and formal networks. For example, while a particular function of the robot (e.g., fall detector and alert service) might spark a positive CX for informal caregivers (i.e., reduce their concerns regarding the well-being of their loved ones), it might evoke mixed emotions for the elderly person (i.e., feeling of safety (+), feeling uncomfortable and annoyed by being monitored (-)).
At the end of the day one question remains: how can we improve the value creating potential of complex service systems for the benefit (i.e., increased CX) of multiple interrelated actors? Since network properties cannot be easily measured and quantified, we advocate a mapping method for delineating network relationships and patterns. That way we hope to gain a better understanding of the value co-creation of mutually dependent actors. By engaging non-designers with visual cues (e.g., making various actors map their network contexts and value co-creating streams) we hope to uncover their latent knowledge about their CX through a network lens approach.
This project is part of the SDIN’s Position 7:
“Design for the Customer Experience in Value Networks”
ESR: Martina Čaić, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
Gaby Odekerken-Schröder, Maastricht University, the Netherlands
Dominik Mahr, Maastricht University and Service Science Factory, the Netherlands
Stefan Holmlid, Linköping University, Sweden
European Commission (DG ECFIN) and the Economic Policy Committee (AWG), (2015), “The 2015 Ageing Report: Economic and budgetary projections for the 28 EU Member States (2013-2060)” [available at http://europa.eu/epc/pdf/ageing_report_2015_en.pdf].
Forrester (2015). “Predictions 2016: The Spotlight On CX Helps and Hurts” [available at https://solutions.forrester.com/Global/FileLib/MPL_Offers/Forrester-Predictions-Spotlight-On-CX-Helps-And-Hurts.pdf].
Marketing Science Institute (2016). “2016-2018 Research Priorities” [available at http://www.msi.org/research/2016-2018-research-priorities//].
Meyer, C., & Schwager, A. (2007). “Understanding Customer Experience,” Harvard Business Review, 85(2), 116-126.