Chapter 3: ‘Othering’ in Service Encounters: How a Professional Mindset Can Hinder User Innovation in Services
3. ‘Othering’ in service encounters: how a professional mindset can hinder user innovation in services Donna Sundbo To speak for others is to first silence those in whose name we speak Michel Callon (1986) 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter deals with the issue of how the professional attitudes of employees and the concomitant process of othering may actually hinder user innovation in services. The aim is to analyse the possibilities and barriers for service innovation through service encounters. Many services consist of service encounters during which the service providers’ front-line employees come into direct contact with the service users. This, then, would seem like a good opportunity for the employees to ask the users for innovation ideas. However, there may be barriers to this. This chapter builds on a case study of a café. The empirical findings from the case study are used to illustrate and discuss the implications of some attitudes of staff members in relation to user innovation. Users may have ideas for innovations but whether these are communicated depends on the behaviour and attitudes of the immediate receiver – the employee. Furthermore, these ideas can be (and often are) stated in various forms such as outright suggestions, questions, complaints or even vague signals of needs in snippets of sentences. In this case it was found that an emphasis on appearing professional combined with strong social group coherence among staff members may prevent users from stating any ideas for innovation. And even if these are stated, they risk being overheard...
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