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Designing servicescapes for transformative service conversations: lessons from mental health services

Ahir Gopaldas (Fordham University, New York, New York, USA)
Anton Siebert (Lancaster University in Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)
Burçak Ertimur (SKEMA Business School, University of Côte d’Azur, Lille, France)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 28 December 2021

Issue publication date: 19 August 2022




Dyadic services research has increasingly focused on helping providers facilitate transformative service conversations with consumers. Extant research has thoroughly documented the conversational skills that providers can use to facilitate consumer microtransformations (i.e. small changes in consumers’ thoughts, feelings and action plans toward their well-being goals). At the same time, extant research has largely neglected the role of servicescape design in transformative service conversations despite some evidence of its potential significance. To redress this oversight, this article aims to examine how servicescape design can be used to better facilitate consumer microtransformations in dyadic service conversations.


This article is based on an interpretive study of mental health services (i.e. counseling, psychotherapy and coaching). Both providers and consumers were interviewed about their lived experiences of service encounters. Informants frequently described the spatial and temporal dimensions of their service encounters as crucial to their experiences of service encounters. These data are interpreted through the lens of servicescape design theory, which disentangles servicescape design effects into dimensions, strategies, tactics, experiences and outcomes.


The data reveal two servicescape design strategies that help facilitate consumer microtransformations. “Service sequestration” is a suite of spatial design tactics (e.g., private offices) that creates strong consumer protections for emotional risk-taking. “Service serialization” is a suite of temporal design tactics (e.g., recurring appointments) that creates predictable rhythms for emotional risk-taking. The effects of service sequestration and service serialization on consumer microtransformations are mediated by psychological safety and psychological readiness, respectively.

Practical implications

The article details concrete servicescape design tactics that providers can use to improve consumer experiences and outcomes in dyadic service contexts. These tactics can help promote consumer microtransformations in the short run and consumer well-being in the long run.


This article develops a conceptual model of servicescape design strategies for transformative service conversations. This model explains how and why servicescape design can influence consumer microtransformations. The article also begins to transfer servicescape design tactics from mental health services to other dyadic services that seek to facilitate consumer microtransformations. Examples of such services include career counseling, divorce law, financial advising, geriatric social work, nutrition counseling, personal styling and professional organizing.



Gopaldas, A., Siebert, A. and Ertimur, B. (2022), "Designing servicescapes for transformative service conversations: lessons from mental health services", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 39 No. 6, pp. 649-659.



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