The Return of Service

The return of serviceYou know, it’s funny. In this app economy we’re working in, you can buy just about anything as-a-service. And yet we—the makers, the designers, the writers, the product marketers, etc—are trying out all kinds of different marketing and pricing recipes to build a package people want to click the buy button for. Freelancers, consultants, and software developers have productised their offerings. We’ve abstracted the value of the person out of the sale, even though it’s our particular expertise and contexts that is the basis of what we’re selling. We’ve distilled what we DO down to things people can put in a shopping cart—a transaction.

You need a product

I know how this happened. It’s the revolution of the Four Hour Work Week, and the desire to make passive income; to make more money from less time/effort.

 

But, even if you’re an affiliate marketer making coin from selling the work of others, (not that there’s anything wrong with that; I do it from time to time, too), you’re kidding yourself if you think you can do it without building your reputation and influence.

 

And, you can’t do that without serving others—through sharing your expertise, your content, and your thought leadership.

It’s not about the product

So why do we still talk about product design, product management, product marketing…? Facebook declared they’d stop using the word “user”, as this article from 2014 states. I don’t know how that’s going, but the author raised this issue about that thing we do where we strip the people out of the problems these things we DO are trying to solve. Is it because we’ve got a maligned idea of what service means? Is it because the word service connotes work that’s less desirable, and the word product is somehow cooler? Is it simply because service is hard to define?

 

In the IT service management circles where I hang out, we (and ITIL®) define service as:

 

A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.

 

Isn’t this exactly what we’re all doing?

 

To serve is noble; and we can see that in the resurgence of the phrase “servant leadership” in the modern management lexicon. It’s a term coined in the 1970s by Robert K Greenleaf, https://greenleaf.org, so it’s been around a while. But, like everything old, it’s cool again. As our very own catchphrase of the century, as-a-service, says; it’s not a product you’re designing/marketing/selling, it’s a service.

 

Put the people back in focus, and design your services to provide the best possible experiences for the people that want them.

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