In considering how organizations can innovate in the support and supplemental servicing of their primary offer, remember that the definition of "service" may actually be quite wide. Because of the potential breadth of this innovation, it is one which we many times see tightly overlapping other innovations, especially Customer Engagement.
Consider also the case of "halo services," those services which may be infrequently used by customers, but are invaluable to the brand and word of mouth of a company. One classic example of the halo service? Herrod's Department Store in London, which has a motto of "Omnia Omnibus Ubique"–"All Things for All People, Everywhere"–and which has cemented that reputation with myriad stories of being able to source anything for its customers. One of their latest offerings is being able to buy gold "off the shelf," up to and including a 12.5kg bar (Harrod's bank) (value of about 500,000 Euros).
From The Ten Types of Innovation:
Service innovations ensure and enhance the utility, performance, and apparent value of an offering. They make a product easier to try, use, and enjoy; they reveal features and functionality customers might otherwise overlook; and they fix problems and smooth rough patches in the customer journey. Done well, they elevate even bland and average products into compelling experiences that customers come back for again and again.
Common examples of Service innovations include product use enhancements, maintenance plans, customer support, information and education, warranties, and guarantees. While human beings are still often at the heart here, this type of innovation is increasingly delivered through electronic interfaces, remote communications, automated technologies, and other surprisingly impersonal means. Service can be the most striking and prominent part of the customer experience, or an invisible safety net that customers sense but never see.
Service Innovation in the Sustainability Space
A bit of an unexpected bonus in the service department is the AmazonSmile program, which donates .5% of all of your purchases made through smile.amazon.com to the charity of your choice. It really is that simple, as all of the products, prices, and navigation of the site is identical, the only difference is that the Amazon logo changes to the AmazonSmile logo, and "Supporting: [your chosen charity]" appears below the search box.
From the program's About page (Amazon Smile):
"AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.
The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. From time to time, we may offer special, limited time promotions that increase the donation amount on one or more products or services or provide for additional donations to charitable organizations."
For those already making a significant amount of purchases through Amazon, it is a seamless way to donate to their favorite charity. Please watch the following 1:26 video.
Click for Transcript of Amazon Smile Video
When you shop at smile.amazon.com, amazon donates a half a percent of the purchase price to your favorite charity.
There are almost a million charitable organizations to choose from, including innovative research hospitals, international relief organizations, conservation charities, local pet shelters, school groups, and more.
Customers who shop at amazon.smile.com have already supported tens of thousands of different organizations, generating millions of dollars in Amazon Smile donations. Thanks to donations from Amazon Smile, charities are accomplishing amazing things.
JAMES SCHREDER, THE NATURE CONSERVANCY: When our supporters shop at smile.amazon.com, The Nature Conservancy is able to protect and restore incredible places all around the world.
SCOTT HARRISON, CHARITY:WATER: It’s thanks to these donations from Amazon Smile that we’re able to continue serving people with clean and safe water in Malawi.
ROBERT MACHEN, ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL: Thanks to the support that we’ve received from Amazon Smile, we’ll continue to make sure that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Only purchases made at smile.amazon.com will result in donations. Start at smile.amazon.com every time you shop to support your favorite charity. It’s the same amazon you know: same products, same prices, and same great service. You shop, amazon gives. Smile.amazon.com. Bookmark it today.
Subway Symphony & Heineken
Not every service has to be directly linked to the product offering and can instead be a service acting to reinforce what the brand stands for. In the case of Heineken's partnering with Subway Symphony, we could consider it more as a 'service to all subway goers'... and one which could also generate tremendous goodwill (and PR value) for Heineken. Imagine the conversations generated on the first day when subway travelers heard the change.
It is an attempt for Heineken, a brand overwhelmingly associated with youth, cities, and technological hipness, to partner with an organization to reinforce their identity and generate goodwill.* Please watch the following 2:35 video.
Click for Transcript of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy Makes Subway Sounds Video
[ON SCREEN TEXT]: What if the NYC Subway sounded like this?
JAMES MURPHY: I'm James Murphy. I am a musician who lives in New York. I used to be in a band called LCD Soundsystem which played it's last show in New York at Madison Square Garden three years ago almost. I'm a DJ and a record producer and mad about town. It's kind of a tough city and expensive city, but the Subways are sort of like very, very egalitarian, purist, New York thing. Runs all night. So I have kind of have a love affair. It's like the best of New York, I think, the Subway. I'm sort of noticing that the Subway sounds quite brutal. I'm missing an opportunity at the turnstile. At the moment, there's this kind of unpleasant beep. I said given that all that information is already in the turnstile, why don't we just make it a nice sound? Just make it pleasant.
[ON SCREEN TEXT]: James Murphy's MTA audio concept. Turnstiles at each station generate different notes from a given harmonic set.
JAMES MURPHY: Recently when I read that the Subway system's going to move to a tap and ride rather than a swipe, I thought this is my chance, really. I wanted to be part of the installation of the Subway inherent, so it didn't cost any money. So, its just... there's already going to be a thing that makes a sound, why can't it make the sound, the nice sound? The more I thought about it, it's an opportunity for music. Why not make the worst times in Subways, the best times? So, the more people going through, the more times the turnstiles gets turned, if you have different notes that are in agreement it would make music. It's just an opportunity to have something quite beautiful in a place where something beautiful seems impossible or unlikely.
*The feasibility of the program at all may be quite slim, as the MTA notes about James Murphy and the Subway Symphony program:
"We have heard from him, and as we've told him many times, we cannot do it. The tones are an ADA element for the visually impaired, and we won't mess with them — much less take turnstiles out of service and risk disabling them for an art project. (It would be a very cool project, don't get me wrong, but we can't mess with turnstiles that handle 6 million customers a day for it.)
[…] As a condition of filming [the promo ad] in the subway, we made them acknowledge that we can't and won't do it."
Perhaps the ADA compliance could be met by other means, but it may be difficult to satisfy the requirements if the tone is an aural identifier.