How Service Providers Manage the Customer’s Service Value Experience throughout the Customer Journey: A Multiple Ethnographic Study

Yasin Sahhar*, Raymond Loohuis, Jörg Henseler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Purpose – In service marketing theory and practice, it is increasingly accepted that service value experience (SVE) is phenomenologically determined by the beneficiary. The creation of SVE is based on a temporal and dynamic process in which customers actively participate. However, little is known how service providers manage SVE throughout the customer journey (CJ). Therefore, we examine through which activities service providers manage the SVE of customers in multiple phases of the CJ.

Design/methodology/approach – We conducted ethnographic research at two training and IT consultancy firms including their customers, with each having intensive customer interaction throughout the CJ. We focus on critical events and analysed how both firms managed the SVE as a collective effort before, during and after service encounters in various phases of the CJ such as problem analysis, orientation, negotiation, purchase, implementation and usage in terms of trainings, IT applications or consultancy activities, evaluation and follow-up.

Findings – Managing SVE appears to be a critical act for service providers. We demonstrate the fragile, dynamic and temporal nature of SVE and uncover eleven facilitating SVE activities and four destructing ones. In prepurchase phases: thorough problem analysis, constructive advice, decisive and solution oriented behaviour and tailored offerings are imperative. Especially during the purchase phase showing empathic and solution oriented behaviour on behalf of the service provided appears to be important for SVE to flourish. In usage, we found that ad hoc ‘repair work’ is required to realign SVE with initial expectations. In final CJ phases proactive and decisive behaviour in combination with activities of early CJ phases are revealed as important to stabilise the SVE. While these activities are identified as SVE enhancing, the following behaviours appear to be destructive: uncoordinated SVE management, customer avoidance, slow response in the face of critical events, and opportunistic and insistent sales approaches in some cases even beyond repair.

Implications – This study advances the literature on SVE management by proposing activities that are value facilitating and/or value destructing in the management of SVE by service providers across the CJ. For practitioners aiming to improve the SVE throughout the CJ, we provide key activities that facilitate SVE and warn about SVE destructive activities. A crucial managerial implication is that SVE management is a collective and carefully coordinated effort involving multiple activities in the various stages of the CJ.

Originality/value – This study is the first to shed light on service providers’ activities in SVE management throughout the CJ. We provide – through rich and fine-grained ethnographic data – a novel contribution to this endeavour by examining and uncovering critical SVE facilitating and destructing practices in different phases of the CJ.

Key words – Service value experience, activities for service value experience facilitation and destruction, micro dynamics, customer journey, ethnographic study, knowledge intensive consultancy and training firms

Paper type – Research paper
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationService Dominant Logic, Network and Systems Theory and Service Science: Integrating three Perspectives for a New Service Agenda
EditorsEvert Gummesson, Cristina Mele, Francesco Polese
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2019
EventThe 10 years Naples forum on Service 2019 - Ischia, Italy
Duration: 4 Jun 20197 Jun 2019
Conference number: 10


ConferenceThe 10 years Naples forum on Service 2019


  • Service value experience
  • Activities for service value experience facilitation and destruction
  • Micro dynamics
  • Customer journey
  • Ethnographic study
  • Knowledge intensive consultancy and training firms


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