Small details that make big differences

A radical approach to consumption experience as a firm's differentiating strategy

Ruth Bolton, Anders Gustafsson, Janet McColl-Kennedy, Nancy J. Sirianni, David K. Tse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Service organizations and marketers have focussed too much of their energy on their core service's performance and too little emphasis on designing a customer journey that enhances the entire customer experience. There is nothing wrong with firms seeking continuous improvement in service quality and customer satisfaction. These efforts are needed for firms to be competitive in the marketplace. The problem occurs when performance levels and service offerings become too similar within an industry, so that price is the only competitive weapon that remains. The purpose of this paper is to argue that in order to break this deadlock, companies need to focus on the small details that make big differences to customers. Design/methodology/approach: The paper builds on interviews with executives in successful service organizations. It provides an analysis of differentiation strategies in diverse service organizations across consumption contexts, nations and cultures around the world. Findings: The paper develops three research propositions and argues for radical approaches to help service organizations truly understand customers and provide service experiences that engage and delight them. The paper argues that the new challenge for marketing is to help companies find and implement these small details to make a large impact on the overall customer experience. Originality/value: In order to truly understand the customer experience, the paper need a holistic view of all interactions customers have with a company. The paper need to understand the customer-firm interactions at all touch points, that is, during search, purchase, consumption and post-consumption. Customer experience involves the customers' cognitive, affective, emotional, social and sensory responses to the firm. The originality of this research lies in the focus on the small details that make a difference to customers during the service process rather than in the final outcome of the service performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-274
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Service Management
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

firm
consumption
services
Firm strategy
Consumption experience
weapon
marketing
Customer experience
Service organization
methodology
industry
energy
Service performance
Interaction
Energy
Purchase
Emotion
Design methodology
Differentiation strategy
Service quality

Keywords

  • Customer behavior
  • Customer requirements
  • Experience
  • Service delivery system
  • Service encounter
  • Service innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

Cite this

Small details that make big differences : A radical approach to consumption experience as a firm's differentiating strategy. / Bolton, Ruth; Gustafsson, Anders; McColl-Kennedy, Janet; Sirianni, Nancy J.; Tse, David K.

In: Journal of Service Management, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2014, p. 253-274.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bolton, Ruth ; Gustafsson, Anders ; McColl-Kennedy, Janet ; Sirianni, Nancy J. ; Tse, David K. / Small details that make big differences : A radical approach to consumption experience as a firm's differentiating strategy. In: Journal of Service Management. 2014 ; Vol. 25, No. 2. pp. 253-274.
@article{9e359f66189a47fba8ef9559c07c56cf,
title = "Small details that make big differences: A radical approach to consumption experience as a firm's differentiating strategy",
abstract = "Purpose: Service organizations and marketers have focussed too much of their energy on their core service's performance and too little emphasis on designing a customer journey that enhances the entire customer experience. There is nothing wrong with firms seeking continuous improvement in service quality and customer satisfaction. These efforts are needed for firms to be competitive in the marketplace. The problem occurs when performance levels and service offerings become too similar within an industry, so that price is the only competitive weapon that remains. The purpose of this paper is to argue that in order to break this deadlock, companies need to focus on the small details that make big differences to customers. Design/methodology/approach: The paper builds on interviews with executives in successful service organizations. It provides an analysis of differentiation strategies in diverse service organizations across consumption contexts, nations and cultures around the world. Findings: The paper develops three research propositions and argues for radical approaches to help service organizations truly understand customers and provide service experiences that engage and delight them. The paper argues that the new challenge for marketing is to help companies find and implement these small details to make a large impact on the overall customer experience. Originality/value: In order to truly understand the customer experience, the paper need a holistic view of all interactions customers have with a company. The paper need to understand the customer-firm interactions at all touch points, that is, during search, purchase, consumption and post-consumption. Customer experience involves the customers' cognitive, affective, emotional, social and sensory responses to the firm. The originality of this research lies in the focus on the small details that make a difference to customers during the service process rather than in the final outcome of the service performance.",
keywords = "Customer behavior, Customer requirements, Experience, Service delivery system, Service encounter, Service innovation",
author = "Ruth Bolton and Anders Gustafsson and Janet McColl-Kennedy and Sirianni, {Nancy J.} and Tse, {David K.}",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.1108/JOSM-01-2014-0034",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "25",
pages = "253--274",
journal = "Journal of Service Management",
issn = "1757-5818",
publisher = "Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Small details that make big differences

T2 - A radical approach to consumption experience as a firm's differentiating strategy

AU - Bolton, Ruth

AU - Gustafsson, Anders

AU - McColl-Kennedy, Janet

AU - Sirianni, Nancy J.

AU - Tse, David K.

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Purpose: Service organizations and marketers have focussed too much of their energy on their core service's performance and too little emphasis on designing a customer journey that enhances the entire customer experience. There is nothing wrong with firms seeking continuous improvement in service quality and customer satisfaction. These efforts are needed for firms to be competitive in the marketplace. The problem occurs when performance levels and service offerings become too similar within an industry, so that price is the only competitive weapon that remains. The purpose of this paper is to argue that in order to break this deadlock, companies need to focus on the small details that make big differences to customers. Design/methodology/approach: The paper builds on interviews with executives in successful service organizations. It provides an analysis of differentiation strategies in diverse service organizations across consumption contexts, nations and cultures around the world. Findings: The paper develops three research propositions and argues for radical approaches to help service organizations truly understand customers and provide service experiences that engage and delight them. The paper argues that the new challenge for marketing is to help companies find and implement these small details to make a large impact on the overall customer experience. Originality/value: In order to truly understand the customer experience, the paper need a holistic view of all interactions customers have with a company. The paper need to understand the customer-firm interactions at all touch points, that is, during search, purchase, consumption and post-consumption. Customer experience involves the customers' cognitive, affective, emotional, social and sensory responses to the firm. The originality of this research lies in the focus on the small details that make a difference to customers during the service process rather than in the final outcome of the service performance.

AB - Purpose: Service organizations and marketers have focussed too much of their energy on their core service's performance and too little emphasis on designing a customer journey that enhances the entire customer experience. There is nothing wrong with firms seeking continuous improvement in service quality and customer satisfaction. These efforts are needed for firms to be competitive in the marketplace. The problem occurs when performance levels and service offerings become too similar within an industry, so that price is the only competitive weapon that remains. The purpose of this paper is to argue that in order to break this deadlock, companies need to focus on the small details that make big differences to customers. Design/methodology/approach: The paper builds on interviews with executives in successful service organizations. It provides an analysis of differentiation strategies in diverse service organizations across consumption contexts, nations and cultures around the world. Findings: The paper develops three research propositions and argues for radical approaches to help service organizations truly understand customers and provide service experiences that engage and delight them. The paper argues that the new challenge for marketing is to help companies find and implement these small details to make a large impact on the overall customer experience. Originality/value: In order to truly understand the customer experience, the paper need a holistic view of all interactions customers have with a company. The paper need to understand the customer-firm interactions at all touch points, that is, during search, purchase, consumption and post-consumption. Customer experience involves the customers' cognitive, affective, emotional, social and sensory responses to the firm. The originality of this research lies in the focus on the small details that make a difference to customers during the service process rather than in the final outcome of the service performance.

KW - Customer behavior

KW - Customer requirements

KW - Experience

KW - Service delivery system

KW - Service encounter

KW - Service innovation

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84897050939&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84897050939&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1108/JOSM-01-2014-0034

DO - 10.1108/JOSM-01-2014-0034

M3 - Article

VL - 25

SP - 253

EP - 274

JO - Journal of Service Management

JF - Journal of Service Management

SN - 1757-5818

IS - 2

ER -