guest article by Gaby Odekerken-Schröder

You are intrigued by services research and so am I. You probably just returned from the Winter AMA in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. In the ‘meet the editors’ sessions, you got interesting suggestions of how to conduct rigorous and impactful research. But what does this mean for research on new service design?

Let’s have a look at 7 key features of new service design.

  1. Holistic approachmaastricht1

A service experience is typically based on the service as a whole. Therefore, it is important to consider the links and effects between the user and the different touchpoints during a new service design process. This will enable you to design elements which have an impact on the holistic service experience.

  1. Stakeholder involvement

Services can no longer be seen as an interaction between two people only. These interactions are just a part of a bigger service system. These service systems involve multiple stakeholders. So, new service design approaches require input from multiple stakeholders and mechanisms to identify and resolve conflicts of interest.

  1. Contextualized data collection

If you start from SDL, the value of services is always uniquely and phenomenologically determined by the beneficiary. This would encourage you to collect data in the context of the service. Whether these beneficiaries are patients, children, consumers or employees, you might consider techniques beyond surveys and benefit from self-documented diaries, observations, shadowing techniques or other contextualized data collection methods.

  1. Visual evidencingmaastricht2

Beyond the content, information quality also depends on its aesthetic representation. You probably structure, categorize, and relate information by using visual aids. You might consider working with service design tools such as personas, story boards, and prototypes of your new idea.

  1. Goal flexibility

In case of a new service design, the overall project scope and objective has to be agreed upon upfront. But you do not have to be scared of defining more specific goals and project deliverables continuously throughout the project. Such a flexible approach allows for adaptations to new insights and taking advantage of emerging opportunities.

  1. Co-creation

You could view new service design as a process of co-creation, involving numerous stakeholders in the different stages of the new service development process. Only then you will be able to capture the full potential of all these stakeholders.

  1. Iterative validation

Finally, in new service design there is a lot of back and forth. You will find out something new, and then try to validate it with the different stakeholders to make sure that your ideas make sense to them.

(Mahr, Kalogeras, Odekerken-Schröder, JoSM, 2013)

test2In Maastricht we have been passionate about services research since the early nineties. In 2010 we decided to bring some of our knowledge into practice and started our so-called Service Science Factory (SSF) ( SSF is an innovative place where multidisciplinary teams of students, faculty and practitioners design new services. Our nuanced empirical method, as described in the 7 key features before, adopts key principles of the service science approach, using service design tools that account for real-world experience.maastricht4SSF is one of the European hubs on Service Design for Innovation (SDIN). In addition we facilitate a number of PhD candidates investigating topics related to service innovation. We invite you for collaboration on research topics that connect to services marketing, service innovation and service design, benefiting from multiple perspectives.

image001We are delighted to host the SERVSIG conference at Maastricht University ( in 2016. We welcome papers and abstracts on services marketing and service management and also challenge you to submit rigorous and relevant research on service design (

4Gaby Odekerken-Schröder

Chair in Customer-Centric Service Science
School of Business and Economics
Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management