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Setting the stage for service experience: design strategies for functional services

Ahmad Beltagui (Business School, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Marina Candi (Center for Research on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland)
Johann C.K.H. Riedel (Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 17 October 2016




The purpose of this paper is to identify service design strategies to improve outcome-oriented services by enhancing consumers’ emotional experience, while overcoming customer variability.


An abductive, multiple-case study involves 12 service firms from diverse online and offline service sectors.


Overall, six service design strategies represent two overarching themes: customer empowerment can involve design for typical customers, visibility, and community building, while customer accommodation can involve design for personas, invisibility, and relationship building. Using these strategies helps set the stage for a service to offer an emotional experience.

Research limitations/implications

The study offers a first step toward combining investigations of service experience and user experience. Further research can strengthen these links.

Practical implications

The six design strategies described using examples from case research offer managerial recommendations. In particular, these strategies can help service managers address the customer-induced variability inherent in services.


Extant studies of experience staging have focused on particular sectors such as hospitality and leisure; this study contributes by investigating outcome-focused services and identifying strategies to create unique experiences that offset variability. It also represents a rare effort to combine research from service management and interaction design, shedding light on the link between service experience and user experience.



Part of the funding for this work has been provided from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration under Grant Agreements Nos 251383 and 324448 as well as the UK Design Performance Project (Grant No. AH/E507662/1).


Beltagui, A., Candi, M. and Riedel, J.C.K.H. (2016), "Setting the stage for service experience: design strategies for functional services", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 751-772.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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