Service blueprinting for identifying the key drivers of customer value: action research in a software company

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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International Design Business Management (IDBM)
International Design Business Management (IDBM)
Degree programme
The objective of this research is to understand the characteristics of customer value and to explore the practical methods that companies use for determining what value is created to the customer. The study highlights the similarities of service-dominant logic and service design in terms of value creation. Overall, the focus of the research is to evaluate whether service blueprinting as a service design method can help technology driven companies to adopt a customer value driven mindset and to identify the key drivers of customer value through multidisciplinary intuition. To gain first-hand knowledge on the phenomenon, an action research study was made in a selected features driven software company during April to June 2014. The particular company was chosen to the study because it wanted to internally clarify how its offering is creating value to target customers in order to improve its marketing communication. By conducting theme interviews with key customers and two parallel co-creation workshops with employees and directors of one customer segment unit, the researcher was able to discover the benefits and shortcomings of using a qualitative service blueprinting method as a part of a larger customer value determination process. The findings of the action research study indicate that service blueprinting can help companies to understand holistically which dimensions of the provided service drive the most value for customers. In other words, the strength of a service design method is that it gathers customer knowledge in a visual format. Thus, it assists in gaining a more holistic understanding of the reasons why some identified value drivers are more important than others from the customers' point of view, rather than what the different drivers are. Altogether, service blueprinting operationalizes the customer value driven mindset by forcing employees to think like the customer and to question the characteristics of the job their customer is trying to achieve. However, the findings also reveal that one should be careful when using a service design method for value assessment. All in all, service blueprinting requires management support, preparation and iteration in order to be effective for value determination purposes. More precisely, service blueprinting does not primarily help companies to measure value in its absolute form but to sparse and share knowledge about the different customer value drivers. Overall, the essence of the method is in the process of using it in order to understand and emphasize the drivers of customer value inside a company. The study acts as a pioneer by combining design and marketing literature in terms of value creation. It contributes to the marketing research by proposing a suitable method for operationalizing the service-dominant logic. In addition, the study adds value to the current design research by raising the utilization of service design methods to a new level.
customer value, customer value determination, design thinking, service blueprinting, service design, service-dominant logic
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