Service Profit Chain or Service Design?

Service Profit Chain and Service Design

This is a question I get quite often. And the short answer is that it’s not an either-or, it is a both-and.

The Service Profit Chain is, in my view, a strategic approach. What kind of an organisation would we like to be? It is very much about why we do what we do.

Service Design, on the other hand, is all about how we actually do it. It is the step by step approach to looking at all our interactions with the customer and making sure that they actually contribute to generating values for this customer persona.

“The activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers”
– Service Design Network

In simpler terms, you could say that on the one hand, we need to create an organisation that is willing and able to create fantastic customer experiences. That is what happens when we start melting the principles of the Service Profit Chain.

With Service Design, we then make sure that the service that we are providing is a contribution in the best possible way to create values of the customer.

In practical terms, that means that we take the value equation from the Service Profit Chain frameworks and use that as a key tool to understand what a given customer persona actually wants. Value is deeply subjective and can only be defined and understood from the perspective of the customer.

Once we have that clear understanding of what certain customer personas are looking for, AND how each persona profile is slightly different from other persona profiles, then we can work through our customer journey, and touch point by touch point develop the best possible experience.

In that way, the Service Profit Chain and Service Design complement each other beautifully.


This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future’s posts, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.