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Integration of a Service Taxonomy

| On 01, Oct 2007

By Reuven Karni and Maya Kaner

The 40 Inventive Principles for Conceptualizing the Components of a Service System

Introduction

In a like manner to physical products and processes, services are composed of a large number of various componentsthat need to be specified when designing a service.1 Several articles have appeared during the past few years, applying TRIZ to non-technical areas: business4, quality7, marketing, sales and advertising6, education5, and services8,9. Services provide a particular challenge to conceptualization techniques, as they encompass, in a general sense, elements (as opposed to physical components) such the following

  • Persons (product designer, service provider, service supporter, customer, client, consultant, expert)
  • Tangibles (physical products, components, parts, facility, amenity, equipment, furnishings)
  • Intangibles (goals, service environment, external environment, information environment)
  • Activities (processes, events, systems, functions)

Because of the wide range of elements constituting a service, architecture is useful for formalizing the representation of a service. We provide this formalization by means of a taxonomic model or service capstone model. This model constitutes a framework into which the conceptualized elements can be pigeon-holed. On the other hand, the multiplicity of elements requires a powerful method to trigger ideas for a solution – and this is provided by the 40 inventive principles of TRIZ.

This paper presents a methodology that integrates these two aspects and provides an innovative procedure for developing a new service.

Taxonomic Definition of a Service System

A service system is an organized set of processes that transforms inputs into outputs; the system achieves an organizational purpose and meets the need of customers through the use of human, physical and informatic enablers in a sociological and physical environment).2,3 It is structured as a set of nine interlinked classes of objects:

  1. Customers:those benefiting from the service (or otherwise affected by it)
  2. Goals: aims, purposes or central meaning of service provision for the organization and its customers
  3. Inputs:physical, human, financial or informational elements to be serviced
  4. Outputs:physical, informational or human elements after being serviced
  5. Processes:service provision and support activities
  6. Human enablers:human resources owning and/or providing the service
  7. Physical enablers: physical and technological facilities and resources which aid in providing the service
  8. Informatic enablers:information and knowledge resources supporting the service
  9. Environment – physical, economic, technological, social, ecological or legal factors and contexts influencing the service

These nine categories, or major classes, of service system elements are decomposed into 75 basic features, or main classes, within these categories (Appendix 4). These features are further decomposed into more than 400 elements (Appendix 1), which constitute our basic unit of design. The taxonomy was developed on the basis of an extensive literature review in the service domainand has been extensively updated as a result of study of the integration of the service taxonomy and TRIZ.2,3

Integration of the Service Taxonomy and TRIZ Principles

We applied our ideas of integration to the conceptualization of the elements in the case of an after-sales service facility. We used the TRIZ principles and the three-level taxonomy at the element level to trigger ideas. We had three goals in mind: 1) to test whether fruitful ideas could be triggered by each principle and sub-principle, 2) to demonstrate that each idea could be linked to the taxonomy and 3) to verify that the two approaches could be advantageously integrated.

Our scheme incorporates, as far as possible, a super-set of the sub-principles appearing in the various articles to test the power of TRIZ in generating ideas at the element level. (The outcome of this part of our study is detailed in Appendix 3.) It resulted in the utilization of all 100 sub-principles and the generation of close to 200 elements, all linked to the major and main classes of the taxonomy. This encouraged us to develop a formalized procedure for generating ideas by selecting a feature or element and applying the inventive principles to it. Idea generation can happen by one of two methods: 1) use of the contradiction matrix or 2) using the proposed procedure, selecting a promising inventive principle.

Option One: Contradiction Matrix

Table 1: Using the Contradiction Matrix for Idea Generation
ProcedureExample: Person
(product designer, service provider, service supporter, customer, client, consultant, expert)
Example: Tangible Element
(physical products, components, parts, facility, amenity, equipment, furnishings)
Example: Intangible Element
(goals, service environment, external environment, information environment)
Example: Activity
(processes, events, systems, functions)
(a) A feature is selected from the generalized service system capstone model (Appendix 4) – select a main classHuman enablers (major class), 41: owner organization (main class)Informatic enablers (major class), 62: component reparability (main class)Goals (major class), 8: service goals (main class)Processes (major class), 31: service operations (main class)
(b) A specific element to be incorporated into the service is selected (Appendix 1) – identify a class-related element or characteristicEmpowermentAcomponent to be repaired, or its reparability or upgradeabilityService uniquenessService regime
(c) A contradiction is identified when conceptualizing the elementEmpowerment allows an employee to execute a range of actions independently, instead of referring to superiors;this wide range assumes extensive experience and so tends to reduce the ability of the employee to make reliable decisionsReparability is related to ease of repair of the serviced item;this may necessitate an increase in the length (size) of the item and complicate the repair operationUniqueness requires an increase in versatility and adaptability;this may necessitate more effort on the part of the service providersIt is important that service provision is visible in order to reduce the impatience of waiting customers;this may necessitate a loss of time if providers cannot leave their desks to consult with advisors or experts
(d) An analogous cell is located in the contradiction matrix and the recommended principles retrieved•Improvement in ease of operation (33) leads to deterioration in reliability (27)
•17 (another dimension), 27 (cheap short-living objects), 8 (anti-weight or counter weight), 40 (composite materials – composite of different skills and capabilities)
•Improvement in ease of repair (34) leads to deterioration in product size (4)
•3 (local quality), 18 (mechanical vibration), 31 (porous materials)
•Improvement in adaptability and versatility (35) leads to deterioration in use of energy by moving object (19)
•19 (periodic action), 35 (parameter changes – transformation of properties), 29 (pneumatics and hydraulics – intangibility), 13 (the other way round – inversion)
•Improvement in illumination intensity (visibility) (18) leads to deterioration in the effective use of time (25)
•19 (periodic action), 1 (segmentation), 26 (copying), 17 (another dimension)
(e) One of the TRIZ principles in the cell is selected40, composite materials (composite of different skills and capabilities)31, porous materials29, pneumatics and hydraulics (intangibility)19, periodic action
(f) A concept is triggered to be incorporated into the service facility designEnsure that empowerment and responsibility are tailored to the capabilities and experiences of each employee and not generalizedUtilize the increased size of the item to allow it to be snapped in and out of the productReduce the effort in validating the repair by allowing the customer to use the serviced product for one month before having to pay for the repair in order to verify satisfaction with the serviceobtained – an offer not presented by competitorsUtilize retired workers to step in and answer customer queries whilst the provider is busy with the advisor or expert

Option Two: Proposed Procedure

We used a questionnaire to link elements to the principles, with all 75 features and an example from all 40 TRIZ principles. (Appendix 2) It acts as follows: management wishes to utilize IT services (feature 56) and wishes to apply principle 5, merging/combining. FromAppendix 2the following question is retrieved: “What kinds of service can be offered on an Internet site?” Answering the question triggers an Internet-based service concept to be incorporated into the design.

Table 1: Proposed Procedure Questions With Element Examples
ProcedureExample: Person
(product designer, service provider, service supporter, customer, client, consultant, expert)
Example: Tangible Element
(physical products, components, parts, facility, amenity, equipment, furnishings)
Example: Intangible Element
(goals, service environment, external environment, information environment)
Example: Activity
(processes, events, systems, functions)
(a) A feature is selected from the generalized service system capstone model (Appendix 4) – select a main classHuman enablers (major class), 41: owner organization (main class)Informatic enablers (major class), 62: component reparability (main class)Goals (major class), 8: service goals (main class)Processes (major class): 31: service operations (main class)
(b) A specific element to be incorporated into the service is selected (Appendix 1) – identify a class-related element or characteristicEmpowermentComponent to be repaired, or its reparability or upgradeabilityService uniquenessService regime
(c) A TRIZ principle is selected from the set of 40 inventive principles; this identifies a specific principle to be used when conceptualizing the element 1, segmentation and sub-principle, divide an element into independent parts26, copying and sub-principle, instead of an unavailable, expensive, fragile element, use simpler and inexpensive copies29, pneumatics and hydraulics (intangibility) and sub-principle, use intangible parts of an element instead of tangible parts19, periodic action and sub-principle: instead of continuous action use periodic or pulsating actions
(d) Juxtaposition of the element and the principle leads to a question about the element (Appendix 2)What kinds of independent decisions can be made by each employee?How can components replaced during an upgrade be reused?How can intangible service goals be utilized to incentivize customers?How can quiet periods in service demand be gainfully utilized?
(e) Responding to the question triggers a concept to be incorporated into the service facility design Provide employees with a budget with discretion to use the budget as they see fit for carrying out their functionsReuse serviceable parts replaced during upgrading to cheapen repair of non-upgraded productsAllow the customer to use the serviced product for one month before having to pay for the repair in order to verify their satisfaction with the servicethey obtained – an offer not presented by competitorsRequire all employees to keep themselves abreast of product upgrades by studying the new manuals during quiet periods

Conclusion

A service owner presents a requirement for a new service. The designer, with the aid of the service taxonomy, begins to visualize the service as a compilation of elements, which needs to be specified. In order to specify the elements, questions must be asked about the elements. In this way, a satisfactory (regular) design – and even innovative (creative) design – solution to the requirement can be found. A powerful and integrated method is needed to both identify and specify these hundreds of elements. A solution is the combination of a comprehensive service taxonomy (in the form of a three-level capstone model) and the 40 inventive principles. This is provided by combining a comprehensive service taxonomy, in the form of a three-level capstone model, the 40 inventive principles and the contradiction matrix. With and without the contradiction matrix demonstrates that both approaches are highly effective in service design.

References

  1. Goldstein, S.M., Johnston, R., Duffy J., Rao, J., “The Service Concept: The Missing Link in Service Design Research?,” Journal of Operations Management, 20, 121-134, 2000.
  2. Kaner, M., Karni, R, “Engineering Design of a Service System – An Empirical Study,” InformationKnowledgeSystemsManagement, 6, 235-263, 2007.
  3. Karni, R., Kaner, M., “An Engineering Tool for the Conceptual Design of Service Systems,” in Spath, D., Fähnrich, K.-P. (eds.), Advances in Services Innovations, Springer, 65-83, 2000.
  4. Mann, D., Domb, E., “40 Inventive (Business) Principles With Examples,” The TRIZ Journal, September 1999.
  5. Marsh, D.G., Waters, F.H., Marsh, T.D., “40 Inventive Principles With Applications in Education,” The TRIZ Journal, July 2004.
  6. Retseptor, G., “40 Inventive Principles in Marketing, Sales and Advertising,” The TRIZ Journal, April 2005.
  7. Retseptor, G., “40 Inventive Principles in Quality Management,” The TRIZ Journal, March 2003.
  8. Zhang, J., Chai, K.H., Tan, K.C., “40 Inventive Principles With Applications in Service Operations Management,” The TRIZ Journal, December 2003.
  9. Zhang, J., Tan, K.C., Chai, K.H., “Systematic Innovation in Service Design Through TRIZ,” Proceedings of the EurOMA-POMS 2003 Annual Conference, Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy, Vol 1, pp. 1013-1022, 2004.

Appendix 1: Three-level Service System Taxonomy

Customers

1.Customer organization: type, size, economic sector
2.Customer features (personal data): type, number, demographics/geographics, nationality, age, language(s) spoken, importance (value)
2.Customer association: connection (potential/new/repeat/member/lost), segmentation, profitability
4.Customer attitudes: socio-economic level, social level, profession
5.Customer preferences: functionality, cost, novelty, reliability, versatility, expectations, preferences, a-priori perceptions (of quality), needs, buying behavior

Goals

6. General strategic goals:positioning, survival, growth, market, profits, leadership, image
7.Service-related strategic goals:differentiation, customer relationship, competitiveness, sales, service vs. sales
8.Service goals:service level, service quality, service flexibility, service uniqueness, service effectiveness, service efficiency, service recovery, product availability (uptime)
9.Customer goals:service response, service variety, service personalization, customer participation, customer empowerment, service value
10.Economic goals: revenue opportunity, profit control, cost leveraging, operational efficiency
11.Enterprise culture goals:organizational culture, employee welfare

Inputs

12.Physical factors:item (before service), raw materials, components, spare parts, finished goods, inventories
13.Human factors:clients (before service), consultants, temporary staff
14.Demand factors:demand (regular, peak), anticipation/uncertainty, seasonality, purchasing behavior (frequency, quantity), orders, demand management
15.Utilization factors:usage context, usage intensity (frequency), patterns, risks, availability requirements (uptime), effects of service delay
16.Customer factors:problem identification (customer), customer requirements, referrals, complaints, authorizations
17.Constraint factors:client limitations (physical/age/health), client limitations (financial), client limitations (goods availability), client limitations (goods non-availability), service limitations (urgency)
18.Financial factors:subsidies, financing
19.Customer payment factors:accounts receivable, payments, means of payment, terms of payment, discounts, customer participation
20.Informatic factors:FAQ query, customer data, complaint data, assumptions, plans

Outputs

21.Physical factors:item (after service), materials, goods, containers, tags
22.Human factors:clients (after service)
23.Informatics:FAQ response, authorizations, contracts, warranties, information (statements), lessons learned, plans, answers to FAQ
24.Financial factors:accounts receivable, payments, earnings, profits
25.Organization payment factors:accounts payable, payments, restitution, compensation, means of payment, terms of payment
26.Waste factors:service materials, discarded components, rejected goods

Processes

27.Service configuration:portfolio of services, partitioning of services (explicit, implicit/support), technology, organization, complexity, customer partitioning (batching), worker partitioning (teams, specializations, departmentalization)
28.Service variability:industrialization/routinization/standardization/variability/customization/personalization/flexibility, product/service upgrading, special circumstances
29.Service initiation: order taking, booking reservation and registration, problem identification (customer), problem identification (provider) and registration, problem severity
30.Service provision:workflow, service transformation, after-sales service, field service, self-service, product delivery to center, product delivery to customer
31.Service operations:regime, days, shifts, work hours (fixed, flexible), breaks, service time, uncertainty, risk, turnaround, capacity (regular/peak)
32.Service quality control:functional/technical quality control (provision, deliverable), service/customer verification, service/customer evaluation, inspection (repair) (provider), inspection (repair) (customer)
33.Service payment:procurement, billing, payment
34.Service recovery:malfunctions, complaint handling, conflict resolution, recovery technique, recovery speed, restitution and compensation procedures
35.Customer contact:channels, help desk, customer involvement, intensity, queries, instructions (advice), promotion, sales, after-sales service coordination, field service coordination, language(s)
36.Customer relationships:lead handling, promoting and marketing, customer loyalty management, CRM analytics, priorities
37.Service support:material handling, inventory management, facility maintenance, equipment maintenance, security
38.Planning and control:forecasting, budgeting, capacity, service load, service level, service system constraints, scheduling, workflow, service tracking, service unavailability (temporary) control, service improvement
39.Waiting line management:organization, wait time
40.Call center (management):call center service, call routing, call escalation routing, waiting line management

Human Enablers

41.Owner organization (enterprise):economic sector, organizational structure, distribution of authority, autonomy, empowerment
42.Service providers:types, skills, numbers, qualifications, organization, dress, age
43.Support providers:types, skills, numbers, qualifications, organization, dress, age
44.Employee management:style, recruitment, induction, tenure, compensation, advancement
45.Provider/employee culture:productivity, creativity, incentives, evaluation, evaluation cycle, risk management
46.Employee competency (skill acquisition):training programs, training workshops, training duration, certification, qualification procedures, skill levels, seniority

Physical Enablers

47.Service center (physical):type, number, size, organization, layout, ambiance, de-centralization of facilities (in-house, outsourcing), ownership
48.Facilities:service facilities, reception facilities, repair facilities, testing facilities, support facilities, payment facilities, inventory facilities, disposal facilities, facility partitioning, ownership partitioning
49.Amenities (supplementary services):customers (wait line), employees, safekeeping, ownership
50.Equipment:service equipment, support equipment, automation, standardization, specialization
51.Furnishings:service/support/general furnishings, ambiance, wall notices and advertising posters
52.Service vehicles:type, number
53.Geography:service center location (macro, micro) service center dispersion, repair facility location, spare parts stores location
54.Access:employee/customer transport to center, employee/customer parking, signposting
55.Call center (physical):location, organization, CTI hardware/software
56.Information technology:hardware, software, channels, Internet site

Informatic Enablers

57.Product/service information (content, language(s)):own catalogs, own manuals, supplier catalogs, supplier manuals, videos
58.Promotion:channels, advertising (message), scripts, “promises”
59.Official reference documents:contract templates, price/charge lists (prices, tariffs, fees, rebates, warranties, insurances), conditions of service/sale, guarantee conditions, post-guarantee conditions
60.Configuration (physical product):structure, variants, attachments, upgrades, customization, materials, customer/service assembly
61.Attributes (physical product):lifetime, transportability, fragility
62.Reparability of components:reparable, replaceable, irreparable, upgrade ability, maintainability, reparability by customer/service
63.Procedures and processes:service provision/support/operations/recovery, customer relationships, job design, planning and control, quality management, decision procedures, decision support systems
64.Service and product appraisal:feedback (from customer, service provider, product designer), feedback (to customer, service provider, product designer), service/product performance analysis, service/product quality analysis
65.Performance measures:general (e.g., ISO) standards, company standards (service, quality), service (provision, recovery), product (functioning, reliability), customer (value, satisfaction), employee (productivity, customer contact), financial
66.Prices and charges:product (goods), service (provision), customer calls (help desk), warranties, warranty extension, rebates and refunds
67.Costs:facilities, operation, equipment, promotion, spare parts
68.Information sources:customer databases (service, behavior), product knowledge base, FAQ knowledge base, professional workshops

Environment

69.Market factors:market needs, need persistence, segmentation, product manufacturers (original, competition), service provision (competition)
70.Geographic factors:manufacturer location, market location, competitor location, supplier location, subcontractor location, spare part location, land availability
71.Economic factors:economic climate, suppliers, subcontractors (outsourcing), economic sector of manufacturing organization
72.Technological factors:availability of technologies, availability of methodologies, availability of knowledge, availability of manpower (labor market), availability of skills
73.Social factors:political climate, social climate, local populace, holidays
74.Ecological factors:constraints on waste/noise, waste disposal
75.Legal factors:constraints on customers, constraints on employees, constraints on location, constraints on service fees, standards, regulations, accreditation (regulator, manufacturer, organization, suppliers)

Appendix 2: Concept Trigger Questionnaire

FeatureElement (Example)TRIZ Inventive PrincipleQuestion
1Customer (organization)24How can the customer organization help to advertise the service?
2Customer (person)1How can customers be segmented so that service will be most effective?
3Customer (connection)4How can both old and new customers be incentivized to use the service?
4Customer (socio-economic)33How can customers from all socio-economic levels be incentivized to use the service?
5Customer (expectation)4How can the facility cope with different customer expectations?
6Organizational goal35How can the organizational goals adapt to changes in the product marketability?
7Sales versus service goal38How can the continued upgradeability of a product help to provide a wide(r) range of services?
8Service goal29How can intangible service goals be utilized to incentivize customers?
9Customer goal23How can customer feedback be exploited to achieve service goals?
10Economic goal22How can cheapening service charges help to further economic goals?
11Enterprise culture goal23How can the “voice of the employee” be exploited to synergize the effectiveness of the service?
12Component2How can spare part availability not turn into a bottleneck in the service process?
13Temporary staff8What kinds of temporary staff can be used to counteract staff shortages?
14Demand (product/service)14What kinds of standard forecasting methodologies can be adapted to predict demand for after-sales services?
15Product usage (intensity)9How can the effects of a service delay on a customer be minimized?
16Customer (as user)1How can the different uses to which the product is put be exploited to provide more customized service?
17Limitations (customer)3How can the service be customized to accord with physiological limitations of the customer?
18Subsidy, financing37How can sources of financing be expanded when upgrading is required?
19Customer payment (terms)4What kinds of terms of payment be offered to encourage customer utilization of the FAQ facility?
20Complaint6How can customer/complaint information be registered using a standardized template?
21Item (after service)28How can electronic tagging be used to track the product repair?
22Client (after service)23How can feedback from customers after the service be streamlined?
23Warranty34How can warranties be kept up to date with product and service upgrades?
24Organization payments11What kind of compensation fund can be set up in the case of an onerous claim?
25Compensation (customers)36What kinds of compensation can be offered to customers for a defective product or unsatisfactory service?
26Discarded components25How can discarded components be used for other purposes (instead of being scrap)?
27Service partitioning2What kinds of services can be given outside the service facility?
28Customization9What kinds of service or repair can be offered to minimize the likelihood of future product failures?
29Service order entry3How can different channels of service initiation (frontal, telephone, Internet) be handled?
30Work flow13What kind of mechanism can encourage customers to resolve the problem by themselves?
31Tasks (working hours)19How can quiet periods in service demand be gainfully utilized?
32Quality control mechanism2How can customer criticism improve the quality of service for that customer?
33Service payment21What kind of methods can be used to expedite the billing procedure?
34Service recovery11What kind of proactive action can be taken in the face of a recurrent complaint?
35Customer (contact)12How can all customers obtain equal attention to their queries?
36Customer (prioritization)2What kind of procedure can be instituted for handling VIP customers?
37Maintenance2What kind of procedure can be instituted for handling critical spare parts?
38Scheduling20How can quiet periods in service demand be utilized for planning and control?
39Waitline organization16What kind of diversions or auxiliary services can be provided in order to counteract boredom of waiting customers?
40Call routing1What kind of functions or services can be carried out by the call center?
41Empowerment1What kinds of decisions can be made by each employee?
42Provider (task allocation)15What kinds of activities can be carried out through mobile services?
43Supporter (dress)3What kinds of dress code can be selected for service support workers?
44Provider (advancement)10What kinds of conditions can be specified for employee advancement?
45Provider (locality)3How can local employee hiring contribute to the organization?
46Provider (training)18What kinds of training should be instituted so that employees are multi-functional?
47Center (layout)3What kind of layout the most suitable for the service center?
48Center (partitioning)1How can the (partitioned) service process be laid out to minimize customer waiting?
49Amenity (customer waiting)3What kinds of amenities can be made available to customers?
50Service equipment6What kinds of functions can be performed by the same equipment?
51Furnishings, interior design1What kinds of furnishings are required for each type of service?
52Mobile service vehicle2What kinds of equipment can be installed in mobile service vehicles?
53Service location (micro)7What kinds of location for the service center can be selected relative to the point of sale of the product?
54Parking facility10What kinds of access can be provided to ensure swift and easy access to the service center?
55Call center (organization)9How can the call center anticipate negative customer responses?
56Internet site5What kinds of service can be offered on an Internet site?
57Media (format)40What kinds of multi-media channels can be used to inform customers about the correct use of the product?
58Promotion channel8How can various promotion channels be used to counteract competitive products or services?
59Price list6What kinds of prices can be charged for standard and customized services?
60Product (customization)32How can service be made flexible for dealing with customized products?
61Product (lifetime)26How can the expense of service provision be related to product lifetime?
62Component (upgradeability)26How can components replaced during an upgrade be reused?
63Quality management38What is the relationship between quality service and product lifetime?
64Feedback (customer/designer)17How can feedback be used to improve both services and products?
65Service standard (quality)6What kind of standards can be used as a basis for developing performance measures?
66Prices and charges1What kinds of prices and charges can be set for each type of service?
67Costs (operations)31How can new services proposed by customers be costed rapidly for implementation?
68Databases5What kinds of common information can be disseminated to all service branches?
69Market (competition)8What kinds of possible cooperation with competitors can be envisaged?
70Location (competitor)22How can a nearby location of a competitor be exploited?
71Economic climate30How can the service center adjust to fluctuations in the economic climate?
72Labor market27How can expensive experienced workers be replaced by inexpensive beginners?
73Social climate39How can the effects of an industrial action be neutralized?
74Waste disposal6What kinds of standards exist for the disposal of different types of components?
75Accreditation2What kinds of facility and worker accreditation are required to operate the service center?

Appendix 3: Examples of Integration Among TRIZ Principles and the Service Taxonomy

Note: Numbers in brackets at the end of an example refer to the references from which the example was taken directly or modified. When a number is not given, the example was generated in the framework of this article.

1 –Segmentation

A. Divide an element into independent parts

  • Partition the service package into explicit services (repair) and implicit/support services (fetch and return) (processes: 27, configuration) [8]
  • Partition the service facility into reception, advice, repair, payment (physical enablers: 48, service facilities)
  • Relate to adults and children in different ways (customers: 2, customer features)

B. Make an element easy to disassemble or sectional

  • Segment the body of customers based on information such as their needs and buying behavior (customers: 5, customer preferences) [8]
  • Use temporary workers during peak demand periods (inputs: 13, human factors; environment: 72, technological factors) [4]
  • Build the service process in modular fashion (process: 27, service configuration)

C. Increase the degree of fragmentation or segmentation

  • Segment services into several categories and route access via an IVR system to improve service delivery efficiency (processes: 38, planning and control; processes: 40, call center management) [8]
  • Balance the segmentation of decision-making and the empowerment of employees (human enablers: 41, owner organization; informatic enablers: 63, procedures and processes) [4]
  • Set up different workstations for different parts of the service process (physical enablers: 48: service facilities)

D. Transition to micro-level

  • Describe in detail, on a panel in the service center, the types of repairs that can be carried out without payment and with payment (physical enablers: 51, furnishings; informatic enablers: 66, prices and charges) [6]

2 –Taking out

A. Separate an interfering part or property from an element, or single out the only necessary part (or property) of an element

  • Send out mobile vehicles so that customers do not have to travel to the repair station (processes: 30, service provision; physical enablers: 52, service vehicles) [8]
  • Extract core functions (repairs) to be carried out at the service facility and make other functions (help desk, queries) happen outside the facility via the call center or Internet (processes: 27, service configuration) [8]
  • Distill qualitative customer feedback into qualitative data (informatics: 63, procedures and processes) [6]
  • Use anonymous questionnaires to preserve confidentiality (processes: 32, service quality control) [6]
  • Use a just-in-time (JIT) inventory system for spare parts management (inputs: 12, physical factors; processes: 37, service support; informatic enablers: 60, product configuration) [8,4]
  • Channel data to make decisions (informatics: 63, procedures and processes) [5]
  • Create an unambiguous procedure for dealing with different types of customer complaints (processes: 34, service recovery)

B. Extract the only necessary part (or property) of an element

  • Separate “troublesome” customers from the general customer population (inputs: 16, customer factors; processes: 36, customer relationships) [5]

3 – Local Quality

A. Change an element’s structure from uniform to non-uniform

  • Customize service procedure and quality according to tariff and type of customer (processes: 28, service variability) [8]
  • Institute a flexible dress code especially for “casual” days (human enablers: 42, service providers; human enablers: 43, service support) [4]
  • Provide quiet work areas for complex repairs (processes: 30, service provision; physical enablers: 47, service center (physical)) [4]

B. Change an external environment (or external influence) from uniform to non-uniform

  • Institute flexible working hours to deal with customers during the day and during the late afternoon (processes: 31, service operations; environment: 73, social factors) [4]
  • Schedule opening hours to accord with neighborhood life styles (customers: 5, customer preferences; processes: 31, service operations; environment: 73, social factors) [4,5]

C. Make each part of an element function in conditions most suitable for its operation

  • Lay out the service center to optimize customer flow from reception, repair, and testing through payment (physical enablers: 47, service center (physical)) [8]
  • Locate the service center inside a heavily populated area to maximize customer outreach (physical enablers: 53, geography) [8]
  • Empower front-line staff with the discretionary right in delivering services (human enablers: 41, owner organization) [8,4]

D. Make each part of an element fulfill a different and useful function

  • Improve the quality of the service offering by facilitating the way in which customers describe problems with the product (processes: 29, service initiation; processes: 38, planning and control) [8]
  • Integrate the facilities and amenities provided to the customer (physical enablers: 48/49, facilities/amenities) [8]
  • Hire local people to acquire cultural knowledge of local customers (human enablers: 45, provider/employee culture; environment: 73, social factors) [6,4]
  • Use specialized equipment for each type of inspection or repair (physical enablers: 50, equipment)
  • Locate service facility near point of sale (physical enablers: 53, geography) [8,4]
  • Utilize school vacations, weekends and evenings for training (processes: 31, service operation; human enablers: 46, employee competency) [5]

4 – Asymmetry

A. Change the shape of an element from symmetrical to asymmetrical

  • Differentiate among customers on the basis of personal data (customers: 2, customer features) [2]
  • Provide both standardized and customized repair services (processes: 28, service variability) [8,6]

B. Change the shape of an element to suit external asymmetries

  • Differentiate among technical and non-technical customers when providing explanations (customers: 4, customer attitudes; processes: 35, customer contact)

C. If an element is asymmetrical, increase its degree of asymmetry

  • Differentiate among customers based on customer profitability (customers: 3, customer association) [8]
  • Create an expert degree of competency in addition to novice and specialist (human enablers; 46, employee competency)

5 – Merging (Combining)

A. Bring closer together (or merge) identical or similar elements, assemble identical or similar parts to perform parallel operations

  • Locate service facility near point of sale (physical enablers: 53, geography) [8,4]
  • If several products are to be serviced, create service desks for each product type (physical enablers: 48, facilities) [8]
  • Join personal computers in a network to ensure joint and parallel accessibility to the data and knowledge bases (physical enablers: 56, information technology; informatic enablers: 68, information sources) [4]

B. Make operations contiguous or parallel; bring them together in time

  • Use multi-media in informing customers about the correct use of the product (informatic enablers: 57, product and service information; informatic enablers: 68, information sources) [8,4]
  • Allow customer to check repair before leaving the facility (processes: 32, service quality control)

6 – Universality

A. Make a part or element perform multiple functions; eliminate the need for other elements

  • Use a multi-skilled work force to deal with queries, advice and repairs (human enablers: 42, service providers; human enablers: 43, support providers) [4]
  • Use data collected for accounting or stocktaking purposes for continuous facility improvement (processes: 33, service payment; processes: 38, planning and control) [5]
  • Use generalized equipment for all types of inspection or repair (physical enablers: 50, equipment)

B. Use standardized features

  • Standardize prices for different types of repair (informatic enablers: 59, official references) [2]
  • Implement accepted service standards (such as ISO) for procedures and quality (informatic enablers: 63, procedures and processes; informatic enablers: 65, performance measures) [8,6]
  • Standardize forms for recording key customer and complaint information (inputs: 20, informatic factors) [6,5]
  • Standardize customer opinion questionnaires to standardize expectations (informatics: 64, service/product appraisal) [5]

7 – Nested Doll

A. Place one element inside another; place each element, in turn, inside the other

  • Locate service facility inside sales facility (physical enablers: 53, geography) [2,6,4]

B. Make one part pass through a cavity in the other

  • Use a door sensor to count the number of customers entering the facility (inputs: 14, demand factors; physical enablers: 51, furnishings) [4]
  • Create channels that allow direct communication throughout the line and staff organization (processes: 36, customer relationships; informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal) [5]
  • Utilize unexploited facility space for storing spare parts (inputs: 12, physical factors)

8 – Anti-weight (Counter-weight)

A. To compensate for the weight (downward tendency) of an element, merge it with other elements that provide lift

  • Invite consulting firms to help to identify and solve problems (inputs: 13, human factors; environment: 72, technological factors) [8]
  • Establish a central telephonic help desk to deal with initial customer queries (processes: 35, customer contact; physical enablers: 55, call center (physical))

B. To compensate for the weight (downward tendency) of an element, make it interact with the environment (e.g., use aerodynamic, hydrodynamic, buoyancy and other forces)

  • Customers can become an advertising medium if service is of high quality (e.g., word-of-mouth) (informatic enablers: 58, promotion) [8]
  • Offer to service products of other manufacturers (even competitors and brand name manufacturers) (environment: 69, market factors) [6]
  • Use technology to impress the customer and to minimize non-essential tasks (processes: 27, service configuration; processes: 36, customer relationships) [5]

9 –Preliminary Anti-action (Prior Counter-action)

A. If it will be necessary to do an action with both harmful and useful effects, this action should be replaced with anti-actions to control harmful effects

  • Perform post-design preventive analysis to identify any potential failure points in the service offering (processes: 27, service configuration) [8]
  • Perform customer perception surveys to anticipate harm to the reputation of the service facility (processes: 32, service appraisal) [6]
  • Anticipate negative customer stereotypes (customer: 25, customer preferences) [6]
  • Empower technicians to offer to upgrade the product before extensive repairs are required (processes: 28, service variability; informatic enablers: 60, product configuration; informatic enablers: 62, component reparability)

B. Create beforehand stresses in an element that will oppose known undesirable working stresses later on

  • Establish a central telephonic help desk to deal with initial customer queries (processes: 29, service initiation; physical enablers: 55, call center) [2]
  • Offer free technology support for customers queries through online inquiry or telephones (informatic enablers: 57, product and service information) [8]
  • Establish monitoring of acceptable levels of service to ensure that the facility does not fall short of customer expectations (customers: 5, customer preferences; processes: 32, service quality control)

10 –Preliminary Action

A. Perform, before it is needed, the required change of an element (either fully or partially)

  • Put up signposts and location maps as route directions for customers (physical enablers: 54, access) [8]
  • Provide basic training for customer interaction skills as customer contact personnel are representatives of the firm (human enablers: 46, employee competency) [8]
  • Create supplementary amenities, such as a waiting room, to ensure a wonderful experiences for customers (physical enablers: 49, amenities) [8]

B. Pre-arrange elements such that they can come into action from the most convenient place and without losing time for their delivery

  • Establish a customized (flexible) service cell thereby preventing “passing the buck” (processes: 28, service variability)

11–Beforehand Cushioning

A. Prepare emergency means beforehand to compensate for the relatively low reliability of an element

  • Offer appointed times for VIP customers to reduce or eliminate waiting in line (processes: 39, waiting line management) [8]
  • Keep excessive inventory of parts that tend to fail often (processes: 37, service support; informatic enablers: 61, product attributes; informatic enablers: 62, component reparability) [6]
  • Provide a hot line or online FAQ for advice on malfunctions that tend to occur often (processes: 29, service initiation; physical enablers: 56, information technology; informatic enablers: 68, information sources) [8]
  • Establish a worst-case, fallback position as a part of conflict resolution (processes: 34, service recovery) [4]

12 –Equipotentiality

A. In a potential field, limit position changes (e.g., change operating conditions to eliminate the need to raise or lower elements in a gravity field)

  • Provide online FAQ which makes the distance between the facility and customers just a few clicks away (physical enablers: 56, information technology; informatic enablers: 68, information sources) [8]
  • Ensure equal handling of customers despite differences in culture and language (customers: 2, customer features; processes: 35, customer contact) [6]
  • Ensure equal understandability of promotions and technical literature by customers despite differences in culture and language (customers: 2, customer features; informatics: 57, product and service information; informatics: 58, promotion) [6]

13 –The Other Way Round (Inversion)

A. Invert the action(s) used to solve the problem (e.g., instead of cooling an element, heat it)

  • Use purchase tracking to invite customers to come for service before a major repair may be required (inputs: 14, demand management; processes: 38, planning and control)

B. Make movable parts (or the external environment) fixed, and fixed parts movable

  • Provide on-site repair services at the customer (processes: 30, service provision) [8,4]
  • Implement home visits to provide services for homebound customers (processes: 30, service provision) [5]

C. Turn the element, or process, upside down

  • Encourage customers to carry out minor repairs themselves (with the aid of an FAQ site) instead of coming to the service facility (processes: 30, service provision; physical enablers: 56, information technology; informatic enablers: 62, component reparability) [8]
  • Train the cash-till assistant in customer relationship management as the assistant is the last person to deal with the customer (human enablers: 46, employee competency) [4]

14 –Spheroidality(Curvature)

A. Instead of using rectilinear parts, surfaces, or forms, use curvilinear ones; move from flat surfaces to spherical ones; from parts shaped as a cube (parallel-piped) to ball-shaped structures

  • Ensure ergonomic design of the service desk to accommodate both technician and customer (physical enablers: 51, furnishings) [8,4]

B. Use rollers, balls, spirals, domes

  • Provide mobile repair services at the customer (processes: 30, service provision) [4]
  • Set up a quality circle of all service employees (processes: 32, service quality control; informatics: 64, service/product appraisal) [5]

C. Go from linear to rotary motion, use centrifugal forces

  • Use feedback from customers and front-line staff toward developing new services (informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal) [8]
  • Circulate questionnaires to customers (informatics: 64, service appraisal) [6]
  • Implement a rolling forecast of repair demand (inputs: 14, demand factors; processes: 38, planning and control) [6]

15 –Dynamics

A. Allow (or design) the characteristics of an element, external environment, or process to change to be optimal or to find an optimal operating condition

  • Adapt service capacity to meet regular/peak customer demand (input: 14, demand factors; processes: 31, service operations) [8]
  • Empower front-line staff with the discretionary right in delivering services (human enablers: 41, owner organization) [8,4]

B. Divide an element into parts capable of movement relative to each other

  • Separate reception, repair and testing facilities (physical enablers: 48, facilities)

C. If an element (or process) is rigid or inflexible, make it movable or adaptive

  • Adapt service capacities to meet regular/peak customer demand (input: 14, demand factors; processes: 31, service operations) [8]
  • Create flexible organizational structure to allow for both in-house and mobile service provision (human enablers: 41, owner organization) [4]

D. Increase the degree of free motion

  • Use interactive teleconferencing to specialists at a hub location to utilize expertise(human enablers: 41, owner organization; human enablers: 46, employee competency) [5]

16 –Partial or Excessive Actions

A. If 100 percent of an element is hard to achieve using a given solution method then, by using slightly less or slightly more of the same method, the problem may be considerably easier to solve

  • Provide babysitting services and children’s amusements so that parents will accept long waiting times (processes: 39, wait-line management; physical enablers: 49, amenities) [2]
  • Give beforehand notices and explanations to customers for temporary unavailability of services to prevent loss of customer loyalty due to blind waiting (processes: 38, planning and control) [8]
  • Empower service personnel to compromise in difficult conflict situations (processes: 34, service recovery; human agents: 41, owner organization) [6]
  • Enable a significant price reduction (or waiver) for unsatisfactory service(processes: 34, service recovery; informatic enablers: 66, prices and charges) [6]

17 –Another Dimension

A. Move an element in two- or three-dimensional space

  • Use different and multi-dimensional methods of feedback: customers, service agents, sales agents (informatic enablers: 61, product attributes; informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal) [8,6]
  • Utilize guest customers to explain how to use the product correctly (processes: 35, customer contact; informatics: 68, information sources) [5]

B. If an element continues to moves in a plane, consider use of dimensions or movement outside the current plane

  • Open facility during late evenings and weekends (customers: 5, customer preferences; processes: 31, service operations) [5]

C. Use a multi-story arrangement of elements instead of a single-story arrangement

  • Segment customers on the basis of how the product is used instead of customer characteristics (inputs: 15, utilization factors) [2]
  • Provide layers of supervision from assistant manager, facility manager and regional manager to corporate consultants, to ensure consistency of service delivery across all locations (human enablers: 41, owner organization) [8]
  • Target promotions on the basis of customer segmentation (customers: 2, customer features; informatic enablers: 58, promotion) [6]
  • Enable quality control to advise on technical details; but all to be responsible for quality (processes: 32, service quality control; human enablers: 41, owner organization) [4]

D. Tilt or re-orient the element, lay it on its side

  • Let customers test the repair themselves before providing a final repair check (processes: 32, service quality control)


E. Use another side of a given area

  • Use external consultants to evaluate service quality (inputs: 13, human factors; processes: 32, service quality control; environment: 72, technological factors) [6]

18 –Mechanical Vibration

A. Cause an element to oscillate or vibrate (shake things up)

  • Hire temporary staff to service customers at peak times (inputs: 13, human factors; environment: 72, technological factors) [8]
  • Encourage employee creativity (human enablers: 45, provider/employee culture)

B. Increase its frequency (even up to the ultrasonic)

  • Provide 10 minutes per day of employee training, instead of long classes at less frequent intervals (human enablers: 46, employee competency) [8]
  • Provide added attention to customers with negative experiences to reinforce a positive feeling (processes: 34, service recovery; informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal) [6]
  • Ensure that customer satisfaction monitoring is kept up to date (informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal)

C. Use an element’s resonant frequency

  • Use a just-in-time (JIT) inventory system for spare parts management (inputs: 12, physical factors; processes: 37, service support; informatic enablers: 60, product configuration) [8,4]
  • Use a bonus scheme to encourage further creativity on the part of creative employees (human enablers: 45, provider/employee culture)

D. Use piezo-electric vibrators instead of mechanical ones

  • Use external consultants to suggest creative ideas (inputs: 13, human factors; environment: 72, technological factors) [4]

E. Use combined ultrasonic and electromagnetic field oscillations

  • Organize regular joint meetings with manufacturers and other service branches to develop new ideas (human enablers: 41, owner organization; human enablers: 45, provider/employee culture)

F. Use external elements to create oscillation/vibration

  • Utilize data-driven decision-making (informatics: 63, procedures and processes) [5]
  • Utilize third-party external assessments (inputs: 13, human enablers; informatics: 64, service appraisal) [5]
  • Periodically review product version and upgrades to determine relevance of service procedures (informatics: 60, product configuration; informatics: 62, reparability of components) [5]

19 –Periodic Action

A. Instead of continuous action, use periodic or pulsating actions

  • Coordinate service capacity with product seasonal usage patterns (inputs: 14, demand factors; processes: 31, service operations) [8]
  • Coordinate advertising with product seasonal usage patterns (inputs: 14, demand factors; informatic enablers: 58, promotion)

B. If an action is already periodic, change the periodic magnitude or frequency

  • Promote early service (in the product life cycle) when demand peaks are anticipated (inputs: 14, demand factors; informatic enablers: 58, promotion) [8]
  • Use weekly or monthly feedback instead of annual reviews (informatics: 64, service/product appraisal) [4]

C. Use pauses between impulses to perform a different action

  • Use customer slowdowns to perform preventative maintenance of equipment (processes: 37, service support; physical enablers: 50, equipment) [8,4]
  • Use customer slowdowns to perform modifications to or upgrading of equipment for new product versions (processes: 37, service support; physical enablers: 50, equipment; informatics: 60, product configuration) [8,4]
  • Utilize retired workers to explain to customers waiting in line how to use the product correctly (inputs: 13, human factors; processes: 35, customer contact; informatics: 68, information sources) [5]

20 –Continuity of Useful Action

A. Carry on work continuously; make all parts of an element work at full load, all the time

  • Develop a retirement job bank of retired employees as a source of skilled labor to fill in during peak work times (inputs: 13, human factors; environment: 72, technological factors) [8,4]
  • Develop a retirement expert bank of retired employees as a source of expertise for employee and service evaluations (inputs: 13, human factors; informatics: 64, service appraisal; environment: 72, technological factors) [8,4]
  • Enter into long-term (product lifecycle) service contracts with customers (processes: 36, customer relationships; informatic enablers: 59, official reference documents) [6]
  • Develop strategies for building customer retention and nurturing customer loyalty (processes: 36, customer relationships) [6]
  • Operate the service round-the-clock (processes: 31, service operations)

B. Eliminate all idle or intermittent actions or work

  • Use a multi-skilled work force to overcome bottlenecks and improve workflow (processes: 38, planning and control; human enablers: 42, service providers; human enablers: 43, support providers) [4]
  • Conduct training during pauses in work (human enablers: 46, employee competency) [4]
  • Use mobile phones to communicate between facility and mobile services or hub experts (processes: 30, service provision; human enablers: 46, employee competency) [5]
  • Conduct stocktaking and cash reconciliation during pauses in work (processes: 31, service operations; processes: 33, service payment; processes: 37, service support) [5]

21 –Skipping (Rushing Through)

A. Conduct a process or certain stages (e.g., destructive, harmful or hazardous operations) at high speed

  • Shorten actual waiting time by setting up more service counters, or hire more part-time employees during peak times (inputs: 13, human factors; physical enablers: 51, furnishings; environment: 72, technological factors) [8]
  • Shorten perceived waiting time by providing TV and coffee in the waiting amenity (processes: 39, waiting line management; physical enablers: 51, furnishings) [8]
  • Use customer complaints as opportunities for improvement (processes: 34, service recovery; processes: 38, planning and control) [6]

22 –Blessing in Disguise (Turn Lemons Into Lemonade)

A. Use harmful factors (particularly, harmful effects of the environment or surroundings) to achieve a positive effect

  • If a severe service failure occurs offer to replace the item (processes: 34, service recovery) [2]
  • Improve the quality of service delivery by listening to and identifying with customer complaints (processes: 34, service recovery; processes: 38: planning and control) [8,4]
  • Implement a mechanism for linking corrective actions to complaints (processes: 34, service recovery) [4]

B. Eliminate the primary harmful action by adding it to another harmful action to resolve the problem

  • Forestall the demand for compensation by suggesting compensation for a faulty product (processes: 34, service recovery; human enablers: 41, owner organization) [6]

C. Amplify a harmful factor to such a degree that it is no longer harmful

  • Charge a high price for service but give quality and fast service (processes: 31, service operations; informatic enablers: 66, prices and charges) [8]

23 –Feedback

A. Introduce feedback (referring back, cross-checking) to improve a process or action

  • Use RFID tags to monitor use of spare parts and ensure availability of inventory (inputs: 12, physical factors; processes: 37, service support; informatics: 62, reparability of components) [8]
  • Implement methods to listen to the voice of the customer (surveys, focus groups, interviews, feedback forms, satisfaction checklist) (goals: 9, customer goals; informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal; informatic enablers: 65, performance measures) [6,4]
  • Ensure that both product and service guarantees are unambiguous and understandable to the customer (informatic enablers: 51, official reference documents) [6]

B. If feedback is already used, change its magnitude or influence

  • Intensify customer feedback by offering incentives for suggestions (goals: 9, customer goals; informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal; informatic enablers: 61, product attributes) [2]
  • Use a computerized information system (e.g., barcoding or checkout scanner technology) to collect and analyze causes for malfunctions and details of the repair carried out (physical enablers: 56, information technology; informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal) [8]
  • Use management measures which reflect customer satisfaction rather than budget variance (informatic enablers: 65, performance measures) [8,4]
  • Use toll-free numbers to facilitate customer communication and counterbalance customer anger (processes: 34, service recovery; processes: 40, call center (management)) [6]
  • Require product designers to review service logs and also to visit the service center (processes: 38, planning and control; human enablers: 41, owner organization; informatic enablers: 61, product attributes; informatic enablers: 64, service/product appraisal) [4]

24 –Intermediary

A. Use an intermediary carrier article or intermediary process

  • Customers can be advertisers of service offerings (e.g., a happy customer is willing to share with his friends the experience of a good service) (processes: 36, customer relationships; informatic enablers: 58, promotion) [8]
  • Replacement parts for servicing play the role as an intermediary in creating customer experiences for delivered services (inputs: 12, physical factors; processes: 36, customer relationships; informatics: 62, reparability of components) [8]

B. Merge one element temporarily with another (which can be easily removed)

  • Use external consultants to evaluate service quality (inputs: 13, human factors; processes: 32, service quality control) [6,4]
  • Hire temporary staff to service customers at peak times (inputs: 13, human factors; environment: 72, technological factors) [8]
  • Include a neutral arbitrator during difficult negotiations with a customer (processes: 34, service recovery; processes: 35, customer contact) [8,6]

25 –Self-service

A. Make an element serve itself by performing auxiliary helpful functions

  • Through FAQ the customer can learn by him/herself about the product and how to avoid damaging it (processes: 30, service provision; informatic enablers: 68, information sources) [2]

B. Use waste (or lost) resources, energy, or substances

  • Evaluate situations of bad services to improve (e.g., track how often customers return with the same problem to measure waste of repair) (output: 26, waste factors; processes: 29, service initiation; processes: 38, planning and control) [8]
  • Develop a retirement job bank of retired employees as a source of skilled labor to fill in during peak work times (inputs: 13, human factors; environment: 72, technological factors) [8] [4]
  • Analyze poor employee evaluations to improve performance (human enablers: 45, provider/employee culture; informatic enablers: 65, performance measures) [5]

26 –Copying

A. Instead of an unavailable, expensive, fragile element, use simpler and inexpensive copies

  • Use customer satisfaction as a measure of organization business well-being (goals: 6, general strategic goals; informatic enablers: 65, performance measures) [6]
  • Use serviceable parts replaced during upgrading to cheapen repair of non-upgraded products (informatic enablers: 62, component reparability; informatic enablers: 66, prices and charges)

B. Replace an element, or process with optical copies

  • Show a video to demonstrate how to use and service the product correctly (processes: 35, customer contact; processes: 39, waiting line management; informatic enablers: 57, product and service information) [4]

C. If visible optical copies are already used, move to infrared or ultraviolet copies (use appropriate out-of-the-ordinary viewing situations)

  • Enable the product manufacturer to evaluate the service facility (informatic enablers: 61, product attributes; informatics: 64, service/product appraisal; environment: 69, market factors) [4]

D. Copy creative service concepts across different industries

  • Provide web-based repair tracking as is done for parcel delivery (processes: 32, service quality control; processes: 38, planning and control) [2]

27 –Cheap Short-living Objects

A. Replace an inexpensive element with a multiple of inexpensive elements, comprising certain qualities (such as service life, for instance)

  • Use low-paid, temporary staff (students, etc.) for surveying customers (inputs: 13, human factors; informatic enablers: 64, service appraisal; environment: 72, technological factors) [6]

B. Replace an expensive element by an inexpensive element

  • Suggest a cheaper replacement or used spare part for an old product (inputs: 12, physical factors) [2,6]

28 –Mechanics Substitution

A. Replace a mechanical means with a sensory (optical, acoustic, taste or smell) means

  • Show a video to demonstrate how to use and service the product correctly (processes: 35, customer contact; processes: 39, waiting line management; informatic enablers: 57, product and service information informatic enablers: 61, product attributes) [4]
  • Have waiting customers enter data by means of a touch screen instead of an employee filling in a form or keying in the data (processes: 29, service initiation; processes: 39, waiting line management) [4]

B. Use electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields to interact with the element

  • Use electronic tagging to monitor use of spare parts and ensure availability of inventory (inputs: 12, physical factors; processes: 37, service support; informatic enablers: 62, component reparability) [6,4]
  • Use GPS tagging to track and monitor location of mobile service units (processes: 38, planning and control; physical enablers: 52, service vehicles) [4]

C. Change from static to movable fields, from unstructured fields to those having structure

  • Internet technologies enable the real-time communication and visual images, instead of calling over the phone (processes: 35, customer contact; physical enablers: 56, information technology) [8]

D. Use fields in conjunction with field-activated (e.g., ferromagnetic) particles

  • Utilize a mentoring program for experienced workers to teach new workers (human enablers: 46, employee competency) [5]

29 –Pneumatics and Hydraulics (intangibility)

A. Use gas and liquid parts of an element instead of solid parts (e.g., inflatable, filled with liquids, air cushion, hydrostatic, hydro-reactive)

  • Share experts between service facilities (human enablers: 41, owner organization; human enablers: 46, employee competency) [5]

B. Use intangible parts of an element or system instead of tangible parts

  • Hang technician training diplomas on the walls of the service center (human enablers: 42, service providers; informatic enablers: 58, promotion) [2]

30 –Flexible Shells and Thin Films

A. Use flexible shells and thin films instead of three-dimensional structures

  • Empower the service employee as multi-functional, having aflexible shell of an organization providing one-stop service (human enablers: 41, owner organization) [6,4]

B. Isolate the element from the external environment using flexible shells and thin films

  • Use regional spare parts stores and fast delivery to centers (inputs: 12, physical factors; physical enablers: 48, facilities) [2]

31 –Porous Materials

A. Make an element porous or add porous elements (inserts, coatings, etc.)

  • Open a “green” advice counter in peak hours for customers who need a quick answer and do not have to wait in a long queue (processes: 39, waiting line management) [8]
  • Ensure that service employees can filter information both into and out of the organization (processes: 36, customer relationships; informatic enablers: 61, product attributes; informatic enablers: 64, service appraisal) [6,4]
  • Set-up and maintain website (physical enablers: 56, information technology) [5]

B. If an element is already porous, use the pores to introduce a useful substance or function

  • Use a customer focus group to suggest and assess new services before formal launches (processes: 36, customer relationships; processes: 38, planning and control) [8]
  • Create online tutorials to augment FAQ support (physical enablers: 56, information technology; informatics: 68, information sources) [5]

32 –Color Changes

A. Change the color of an element or its external environment

  • Changing the color of a service facility or amenity may influence the customer’s perception of the service (physical enablers: 49, amenities; physical enablers: 51, furnishings) [8]
  • Changing the lighting of a service facility or amenity may influence the customer’s perception of the service (physical enablers: 49, amenities; physical enablers: 51, furnishings) [4]

B. Change the transparency of an element or its external environment

  • Promote customer confidence by making part of service operations transparent to public scrutiny (e.g., repair laboratory can be observed through windows in the waiting area) (physical enablers: 48, facilities) [8]
  • Ensure that product warranties and service/repair conditions are kept up to date and understandable (informatics: informatics: 59, official reference documents; informatic enablers: 60, product configuration) [4,5]

C. In order to improve observability of things that are difficult to see, use colored additives or luminescent elements

  • Use desktop or graphic presentations to enhance explanations to customers (processes: 35, customer contact; informatics: 56, information technology) [5]

D. Change the emissivity properties of an element subject to radiant heating

  • Develop strategies for dealing with troublesome customers (processes: 35, customer contact; informatics: 63, procedures and processes) [5]

33 –Homogeneity

A. Make elements interacting with a given element of the same material (or material with identical properties)

  • Let customers test the repair before leaving the service center (processes: 32, service quality control) [2]

34 –Discarding and Recovering (Rejecting and Regenerating Elements)

A. Make portions of an element that have fulfilled their functions go away (discard by dissolving, evaporating, etc.) or modify these directly during operation

  • Provide a disposal system for discarded components (outputs: 26, waste factors; informatic enablers: 62, component reparability) [2]
  • Use retired or temporary workers to balance capacity or workload (inputs: 13, human factors; processes: 31, service operations; environment: 72, technological factors) [4]

B. Conversely, restore consumable parts of an element directly in operation

  • Ensure a commitment to repair or replace any part that fails during the life of the product (outputs: 23, informatics; informatic enablers: 59, official reference documents; informatic enablers: 62, component reparability) [6]
  • Institute periodic retraining (human enablers: 46, employee competency) [5]

35 –Parameter Changes (Transformation of Properties)

A. Change an element’s physical state (e.g., to a gas, liquid or solid)

  • Use a computerized system, rather than paper forms, to record customer service requests (processes: 29, service initiation; physical enablers: 56, information technology)
  • Use an Internet site to substitute for a user manual or “how to repair” manual (physical enablers: 56, information technology; informatic enablers: 62, reparability of components)

B. Change the concentration or consistency

  • Provide a fast service turnaround at a higher price (processes: 31, service operations; informatics: 66, prices and charges)

C. Change the degree of flexibility

  • Provide a coffee bar in the waiting room to bestow a relaxed environment with mood music as background (processes: 39, waitline management; physical enablers: 49, amenities) [8]
  • Control the temperature of the service facility and amenities to avoid customer discomfort (physical enablers: 49, amenities; physical enablers: 51, furnishings)

D. Change the atmosphere to an optimal setting

  • Use an open-space layout to enhance the presence of customers in service delivery (physical enablers: 47, service center (physical)) [8]
  • Periodically review product version and upgrades to determine relevance of service procedures (informatics: 60, product configuration; informatics: 62, reparability of components) [5]

36 –Phase Transitions (Macro-scale Phenomena)

A. Use phenomena occurring during phase transitions (e.g., volume changes, loss or absorption of heat, etc.)

  • With the aging of customers, waiting facilities must adjust to cater to the evolution of their needs (customers: 2, customer features; physical enablers: 49, amenities) [2]
  • With the aging of customers, suggest alternatives to repairing a product which may have become unsuitable (customers: 2, customer features; processes: 36, customer relationships)

37 –Thermal Expansion

A. Use thermal expansion (or contraction) of materials

  • Use adaptable service capacity to cater to fluctuating demands of customers (processes: 31, service operations) [8]

B. If thermal expansion is being used, use multiple materials with different coefficients of thermal expansion

  • Use adaptable service capacity to differentiate between customer waiting for advice and waiting for repair (processes: 39, waiting line management)

38 –Strong Oxidants (Boosted Interactions)

A. Replace common air with oxygen-enriched air (enrich value added for elements)

  • Use an open-space layout to enhance the presence of customers in service delivery (physical enablers: 47, service center (physical)) [8]
  • Use internal subject matter experts when a technical problem escalates (human enablers: 41, owner organization; human enablers: 46, employee competency; informatics: 61, product attributes) [4]
  • Develop and use case studies in training (human enablers: 46, employee competency) [4]
  • Continually address and improve customer perceived quality of service (customers: 5, customer preferences; informatics: 64, service/product appraisal) [5]
  • Promote upgrades to extend product lifetime (information enablers: 58, promotion; information enablers: 63, procedures and processes)

B. Replace enriched air with pure oxygen (increase element participation)

  • Increase level of customer participation by encouraging customer to identify the problem and to test the repair (processes: 29, service initiation; processes: 32, service quality control)

C. Expose air or oxygen to ionizing radiation (employ external influences)

  • Provide a small quiet area to let customers test the repair (processes: 32, service quality control; physical enablers: 47, service center (physical)) [2]
  • Organize meetings between product designers and service providers (human enablers: 41, owner organization; informatics: 61, product attributes) [5]

D. Use ionized oxygen (enrich value added through elements)

  • Ensure hiring highly creative individuals who understand theVOC (human enablers: 45, provider/employee culture; environment: 72, technological factors) [6]

E. Replace ozonized (or ionized) oxygen with ozone (extreme or radical activities)

  • Introduce methods to overcome the reluctance of dissatisfied customers to complain (processes: 34, service recovery) [6]

39 –Inert Atmosphere

A. Replace a normal environment with an inert one

  • Develop a smoothing technique for conflict resolution (processes: 34, service recovery; processes: 35, customer contact) [6]
  • Include a neutral arbitrator during difficult negotiations with a customer (processes: 34, service recovery;processes: 35, customer contact) [8,6]

B. Add neutral parts or inert additives to an element

  • Provide workers with adequate break times (processes: 31, service operations) [8]
  • Provide quiet work areas for complex repairs (processes: 30, service provision; physical enablers: 47, service center (physical)) [4]

40 –Composite Materials (Utilization of Combinations of Different Skills and Capabilities)

A. Change from uniform to composite (multiple) materials

  • Adding tangible elements into service offerings can give customers physical reminders of the repair (e.g., provide complimentary keepsakes when returning the repaired item) (processes: 36, customer relationships; informatic enablers: 58: promotion) [8,6]
  • Use multi-media in informing customers about the correct use of the product (informatic enablers: 57, product and service information; informatic enablers: 68, information sources) [8,4]

Appendix 4: Capstone Model for Service Systems

Capstone Model for Service Systems