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Service Readiness during Manufacturers’ Servitization

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles

Details

Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University
Number of pages96
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-0974-9
ISBN (Print)978-952-03-0973-2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2019
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations
No.26
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028

Abstract

Manufacturing companies are broadening their offering with services to differentiate from competitors, gain financial benefits, and get closer to their customers. This transition toward services (i.e., servitization) is not straightforward and can pose several challenges for manufacturers. Customer readiness to adopt services is vital to manufacturers offering services, as customers’ perceptions and decisions to start using and continuing the usage of offered services determine service demand. Business customers’ awareness about new services requires that manufacturers make the services known and available through internal (manufacturer’s own) or external (e.g., dealers and agents) salespeople. Hence, salespeople readiness to adopt services into their active selling portfolios be-comes crucial. Some of the key success factors and challenges during servitization are related to customers’ and salespeople’s changing roles.

Earlier research has explored servitization changes in manufacturing companies and individuals’ readiness to adopt new technologies. The previous research is filled with indications of the importance of business customers’ and salespeople’s need to adapt to be-come ready to adopt new services. Despite this, service readiness and ways of promoting it at the manufacturers’ customer interface are poorly understood. Therefore, this study combines two separate research streams— servitization and innovation adoption—to develop an understanding about service readiness among manufacturers’ customer companies and internal and external salespeople. This study intends to help manufacturers activate and enhance demand for their new services.

This research was conducted as four separate studies in a sequential design using inter-views with five manufacturers. The findings illustrate that service readiness is a multi-level concept at the individual and organizational levels, influencing the customers’ decision to purchase and the salespeople’s decisions to sell or market the services. The results demonstrate how the relational and interactive nature of services is reflected in service readiness, in that it is not created in isolation, but rather customers and internal and external salespeople can influence one another’s service readiness. Manufacturers should offer their advanced services first to those customers who are more ready and seek to enhance the readiness of the customers and salespeople who are not yet as ready.

This research contributes to two different streams of the literature and has practical implications. It illuminates the specific nature of innovation adoption in business-to-business and service contexts; it also indicates that service readiness precedes service adoption. This research identifies the concept of service readiness, defines and specifies it, and the interactive nature of services is shown to characterize service readiness. The complexity and the two layers (individual and organizational) of service readiness are illustrated in an organizational and interorganizational context, differentiating it clearly from individual technology readiness. As for the servitization literature, this research provides knowledge from the customer perspective, which has been understudied previously. It depicts the relevance of service readiness as an important component in manufacturers’ servitization and highlights the interconnectedness of customer and salespeople service readiness. As for the managers, this research provides valuable insights about the challenges servitization may pose as well as ways to address these issues and thereby promote new service demand.

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