The Value of Service

This is a direct lift from the book Microservices for Java Developers – that I got for free. I am passing it on to you – for free, also.

For more than 100 years, our business markets have been about creating products and driving consumers to wanting those products: desks, microwaves, cars, shoes, whatever. The idea behind this “producer-led” economy comes from Henry Ford’s idea that “if you could produce great volumes of a product at low cost, the market would be virtually unlimited.” For that to work, you also need a few one-way channels to directly market toward the masses to convince them they needed these products and their lives would be made substantially better with them. For most of the 20th century, these oneway channels existed in the form of advertisements on TV, in newspapers and magazines, and on highway billboards. However, this producer-led economy has been flipped on its head because markets are fully saturated with product (how many phones/ cars/TVs do you need?). Further, the Internet, along with social networks, is changing the dynamics of how companies interact with consumers (or more importantly, how consumers interact with them).

Social networks allow us, as consumers, to more freely share information with one another and the companies with which we do business. We trust our friends, family, and others more than we trust marketing departments. That’s why we go to social media outlets to choose restaurants, hotels, and airlines. Our positive feedback in the form of reviews, tweets, shares, etc., can positively favor the brand of a company, and our negative feedback can just as easily and very swiftly destroy a brand.

There is now a powerful bi-directional flow of information with companies and their consumers that previously never existed, and businesses are struggling to keep up with the impact of not owning their brand.

Post-industrial companies are learning they must nurture their relationship (using bi-directional communication) with customers to understand how to bring value to them. Companies do this by providing ongoing conversation through service, customer experience, and feedback. Customers choose which services to consume and for which to pay depending on which ones bring them value and good experience. Take Uber, for example, which doesn’t own any inventory or sell products per se. I don’t get any value out of sitting in someone else’s car, but usually I’m trying to get somewhere (a business meeting, for example) which does bring value. In this way, Uber and I create value by my using its service. Going forward, companies will need to focus on bringing valuable services to customers, and technology will drive these through digital services.

This also applies to churches- that are also providing a service. They have to listen to their people carefully, over a long period of time – not just occasionally.

It even applies to schools, who have to listen, and respond to, many people – including their students.

And, of course it applies to politics – if people feel their government is not meeting their needs – they get rid of the government!

The only exception I can think of is Drugs – for which the demand is infinite. This is the ultimate consumer product.


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