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Book Emphasizes Importance of Service Design

By Paula Bernier January 11, 2017

The book “Woo, Wow, and Win,” published late last year by HarperCollins, is an example of a pretty good book with a pretty hokey title. But, as its authors Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell clearly understand, you have to hook the audience to draw them in.


That said, their new book is not so much about marketing or sales hooks, as the title might suggest. Instead, it’s about service design, meaning how to create a service so it meets both your businesses’ intentions and works well for your target customers. 

“To effectively design a service and be able to deliver it, you must sort through a seemingly infinite number of variables,” write Stewart and O’Connell, providing an example of a business selling tools. “Who’s your buyer? Professional, hobbyist, surburban dad with a workbench, apartment dweller who stashes a few tools in a cardboard box at the back of her closet? Is she doing carpentry or just hanging pictures? How does he want to pay? What if he wanted to return it? What else do you sell that you’d like the customer to pick up on this visit? You cannot just think about a customer – you have to be the customer and walk in his shoes.”

Design thinking, the authors add, requires a holistic approach that involves human-centered processes and integrative approaches.

“Though these are buzzwords, they are meaningful: They speak of an approach that begins with deep understanding of a customer’s needs and desires, that conducts experiments with only just enough prototyping to make the next experiment more interesting, and that attempts to solve multiple problems at the same time,” write O’Connell and Stewart.

Stewart comes to this subject as the executive director of the National Center for the Middle Market of the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. He’s also served as CMO for Booz & Co. And he has worked as the editor and managing director of the Harvard Business Review. O’Connell is a writer and editor based out of New Year City.

Their book “Woo, Wow, and Win” talks about themes that will be familiar and, hopefully, well understood to readers of TMC’s CUSTOMER magazine. That includes the need for businesses to deliver consistent customer experiences across different channels, the benefits of mapping the customer journey to design and refine the customer experience, and the importance of defining your brand and then delivering experiences that align with it. The book also suggests that all of the above will require a rethink by businesses, most of which have processes and tools in place that are less about delivering a particular customer experience and more about measuring whether employees are following company procedure.

The authors argue that providing superior service is not natural in most organizations. And even companies that are able to reach this high bar need to continue to work at every day, hour, and minute to deliver the customer experience that defines their business.

“Achieving excellence in service design and delivery is like catching a soap bubble,” they write, “you have it in your hand for a brief moment only.” 




Edited by Alicia Young

Executive Editor, TMC

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