Product companies have long been augmenting their products with services (service contracts, subscriptions, etc.). For service companies, augmenting services with products can be both an essential part of the business model (e.g Verizon, IBooks/IPad) and a means to make a service unique.
What should you be thinking about as you create service-products or product-services?
Customer Goal: What does your customer really want to get done? Consider not only the end result but the process of getting there and how you can enhance the product or service with services or products that make the experience easier, more satisfying, more profitable, etc.
Artifacts: These are the tangible expressions of product or service (e.g. a McKinsey deck, Salesforce.com dashboard, AECOM architectural/engineering drawings). Use them to help express your firm’s unique capabilities and the promise of your brand. Try to create artifacts that customers will seek out and competitors will find hard/costly to match.
Complements: What other products or services can you partner with/purchase to expand the value of your offering? Jet Blue partnered with GroundLink to offer limo service to and from airports. Look for opportunities to create ecosystems of products and services, especially ones that can be offered on an exclusive or near-exclusive basis (e.g. OnStar originally only available on Cadillac).
Community: For B2B services firms, a community of customers/clients can be formed around thought leadership (e.g. Gartner’s Peer Connect). The products are most commonly books/research reports or other stand-alone media. What other physical things could you put in your customers’ hands to build stronger communities around your service?
Simplicity: Rather than ask what can be added, you might consider what can be taken away to make life easier for your customers. For example, the process of renting a car for half a day. Zip Car makes it easy: “join, reserve, unlock, drive.” And its Zipcard is a good example of an artifact.