Katriina Valminen and Marja Toivonen 1 INTRODUCTION Combining efficiency with a user-based approach is a central challenge in services. Seemingly, these standpoints are very different: efficiency is linked to the scalability of services, whereas user-orientation aims to offer a unique experience for the customer in individual encounters. Success in service business is not, however, possible if the provider only tackles one of these challenges and neglects the other. The one-sided emphasis on user-orientation may lead to totally tailor-made practices where the insights emerging at the customer interface do not accumulate into shared understanding, and where the interaction with customers is highly dependent on the skills of individual staff members. Correspondingly, the one-sided emphasis on efficiency may lead to mechanical input–output considerations which answer the needs of users poorly and consequently do not form a sustainable strategy in the longer term. In recent years, productization of services has been presented as one solution to the problem of efficiency. The concept of productization has been used more generally in managerial texts than in scholarly literature, but there are several streams in the latter literature which actually discuss the same topic. Some analyses applying the New Service Development (NSD) framework, as well as those analyses applying the method of service blueprinting, can be mentioned as examples (Edvardsson, 1997; Bitner et al., 2008). Because the core of productization is a systematic description of a service, and the dissemination of a common view based on this description among the staff members, the exercise easily...
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