[We’re pleased to welcome authors Carol Kelleher of Cork University, Hugh N. Wilson of the University of Warwick, Emma K. Macdonald of the University of Warwick, and Joe Peppard of MIT. They recently published an article in Journal of Service Research entitled “The Score Is Not the Music: Integrating Experience and Practice Perspectives on Value Co-Creation in Collective Consumption Contexts,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on this research:]
What motivated you to pursue this research?
Three interrelated and enduring research questions motivated this study as well as my other studies on collective consumption: 1) what is the individual experience of the collective? 2) what is the collective experience of the individual? and 3) how do they impact each other?
In many service settings, such as when attending a live orchestral music performance, the value that a customer derives from the experience depends on their interactions not just with service employees (such as when buying tickets, being ushered to a seat, or when hearing the music played by the musicians) but also from interactions with other customers in the service environment (such as others in the audience who sit together – in silence or not – to enjoy the musicians’ playing). We label these collective consumption contexts. Other examples, which have their own ‘rules of behaviour’, include spectator sports, choral singing, slimming clubs and orienteering, and examples in the online world include multi-player gaming and peer-to-peer IT support.
A key challenge for service managers in these contexts is to understand how customers coordinate with each other, particularly when there is variation in customers’ skill levels. Despite the difficulty, it is ultimately the service provider’s responsibility to ensure that the service experience is optimised for all customers irrespective of individual variation, lest it detract from the value that customers perceive.
What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?
To address this challenging managerial issue, I conducted a six-month immersive study with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), a world leading orchestra, as part of my PhD. At the time, the LSO had a strong understanding of its core customers but did not know why 70% of first-time attendees failed to return. The problem did not appear to be pricing, as discounting a second visit did not improve return rates. Rather, this study’s findings resulted in the recognition that a key problem was how to support social learning.
In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
An overarching implication for service managers is that they need to anticipate potential barriers to value co-creation that can arise from differences in customers’ prior learning. Immersive customer insight is needed to identify whether individual customers are able to learn the accepted ways of behaving, what barriers exist to this social learning, and where more expert customers will be only too happy to help less experienced peers. Service organizations can then design ways to facilitate social learning between novices and experts so as to optimize value for all.
What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
First, study and research what you are passionate about – this will be your energy source. You will always have a smile on your face, continue to be surprised and never be bored.
Second, research and scholarship is a shared social construction within the community of practice of experts and novices to – be generous and give generously. We need to appreciate the opportunity and responsibility to sustain such communities, assist junior or novice scholars and, each in our own way, leverage our shared endeavors to contribute to the greater good.