Absorbing customer knowledge: how customer involvement enables service design success

Storey, Chris and Larbig, Christine (2017) Absorbing customer knowledge: how customer involvement enables service design success. Journal of Service Research, 21 (1). pp. 101-118. ISSN 1094-6705

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Customers are a knowledge resource outside of the firm that can be utilized for new service success by involving them in the design process. However, existing research on the impact of customer involvement (CI) is inconclusive. Knowledge about customers’ needs and on how best to serve these needs (articulated in the service concept) is best obtained from customers themselves. However, codesign runs the risk of losing control of the service concept. This research argues that of the processes of external knowledge, acquisition (via CI), customer knowledge assimilation, and concept transformation form a capability that enables the firm to exploit customer knowledge in the form of a successful new service. Data from a survey of 126 new service projects show that the impact of CI on new service success is fully mediated by customer knowledge assimilation (the deep understanding of customers’ latent needs) and concept transformation (the modification of the service concept due to customer insights). However, its impact is more nuanced. CI exhibits an “∩”-shaped relationship with transformation, indicating there is a limit to the beneficial effect of CI. Its relationship with assimilation is “U” shaped, suggesting a problem with cognitive inertia where initial learnings are ignored. Customer knowledge assimilation directly impacts success, while concept transformation only helps success in the presence of resource slack. An evolving new service design is only beneficial if the firm has the flexibility to adapt to change.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Customer involvement, Absorptive capacity, Service Concept, Service Design
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Business and Management
Research Centres and Groups: Marketing Innovation Research Group
Depositing User: Chris Storey - Professor
Date Deposited: 19 May 2017 08:47
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2021 11:12
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/68141

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