Designing Boundary Objects for the Sales of Industrial Services: How to Support Value Co-creation Through User Experience
57 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2015
Date Written: November 20, 2015
Customers can be thought of as active co-creators of value, and each customer’s experience is unique. One type of co-creation takes place during the sales of customizable industrial services: the supplier provides the customer with service alternatives through different representations and descriptions, and by tailoring the final offering with and for the customer, rather than providing a ready-made solution. Sales negotiations of industrial services is an understudied process of value co-creation, during which supplier and customer discover and define the needs of the customer and find the best possible solution for such needs through the supplier’s offering. Negotiation documents, such as presentation slides and contract drafts act as boundary objects between the different understandings of supplier and customer. The negotiations proceed through and around these boundary objects, which help parties find consensus on the service scope and contractual terms. The goal of the study was to redesign and evaluate negotiation documents that were enhanced in respect to their user experience (UX), so as to better function as engaging co-creation tools, and help to overcome some typical challenges in the sales process. An action research design study was carried out with experienced front-line industrial service sales managers at a case company. From theme-based interviews, the service negotiation process was mapped through a service blueprint, based on which challenges, key negotiation topics, and negotiation documents were identified. Visualizations of negotiation topics were produced by a graphic designer in collaboration with sales personnel and were added to key documents in order to transform them into “visual templates for negotiation”, and then were evaluated by usability and user experience validated scales. This paper offers a novel and multidisciplinary approach to value co-creation during sales by incorporating sociological concepts (e.g. boundary objects) with terminology of the design community (usability, user experience) in the industrial marketing context. The study results will support industrial service providers in adopting and implement UX-enhancing sales tools. The research design presented in the paper is novel and will help practitioners in the field to study, assess, and re-design their negotiation processes.
Keywords: Visualization, Contracts, Industrial Services, Negotiations, User Experience, Boundary Objects, Value co-creation
JEL Classification: L14, L80, M1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation