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What are Service & Process Innovation?

Services and processes are complex interactions with many participants. The specialty of the service is that there is direct contact with the customer. Service and process innovations are therefore new types of services and work processes in general. The frequent repetition of the process is a key aspect. Because, of course, the service or process innovation should repeatedly generate satisfied and enthusiastic customers and stakeholders.

Successful repeatability and controllability is precisely the challenge in the matter. Service and process innovations are a management challenge. The degree of technical innovation is usually rather low. Technical world novelties are rarely required to make an innovative service or innovative process a success. But sometimes it does, especially in manufacturing.

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What Challenges and Risks are there in Service and Process Innovation?

The most ingenious service idea does not survive if customers cannot be satisfied over the long term. The most important challenge of all service and process innovations is the complexity of the processes. Even minor deviations make services with many different individuals and sometimes constantly changing people unstable. The same applies to processes with fluctuating environmental conditions such as air temperature and pressure, dust, humidity or employee mood.

One risk is that it seems so easy to build a process. Simply draw a few boxes on paper and it is clear what will happen and when. This apparent simplicity means that very few service and process innovations last long. Most of the time, only core functionalities remain that can be offered in a permanently stable manner. The enthusiasm falls by the wayside. And if the introduction of the new service or process fails, then large amounts of money are quickly burned. Especially if the innovation shall replace an already established process and needs to be kept alive at all costs.

The large number of people involved harbors another risk. The risk of misjudging customer needs and creating an innovation that nobody really wants.

Kopf mit Zahnrad

Trial & Error

Zahlen hoch

Vast Numbers of
Variables & Stakeholders

Daumen runter

Huge Money at Stake
when going live

Who is responsible for Service and Process Innovation in the Company?

Service innovations are the domain of product managers, service managers and portfolio management. Where services are broken down into sub-areas, the department heads are responsible for what happens. For example, Head of Customer Support, Head of Technical Support or Head of Customer Retention.

Explicit responsibilities for customer enthusiasm in the form of Head of Customer Experience or Head of Customer Success are increasing.

The process owners are responsible for process innovation. Which typically are the department managers. These are production managers, sales managers, HR managers or, of course, Head of Innovation. Quality management often makes a supportive contribution to process innovation.


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Team discusses process flow as a symbol for service and process innovation - TOM SPIKE

How does Innovation Consulting help with Service & Process Innovation?


In services and in processes, trial & error are often the predominant approaches. And people tend to not see the forest for the trees. Questioning long-standing basic assumptions is an important task of innovation consulting in order to enable real service innovations or process innovations. Often through a series of compact innovation workshops with intermittent coaching.


It is of course not enough to shake the rotten house. Otherwise, if the services and processes are highly complex, you will quickly feel that you are losing control. “Will everything get better in the end? Or just worse? Can this really be measured or do we have to trust our gut feeling and experience?” Structure and methodology create a feeling of security to endure radical simplification and to actually find success in the end. Before the dry spell becomes too long and the breath of ambition runs dry.


Service and process innovations are mostly operations on living patients. Business has to go on, the customer doesn’t wait, the systems are running at full speed. A few fresh ideas can wreak havoc. Securing risks is an important task of the innovation consultant. Control and disturbance variables must be mastered. Service and process concepts are tested, simulated and secured before the big money is risked and the innovation goes live.


Everyone has demands, ideas and needs for new processes and services. Internal and external customer needs are as numerous as they are contradicting one another. Setting the focus, using benchmarks to delimit the competition and keeping a clear view of the goal – this is what innovation consulting advocates. And they will do better than the prophet without honor in his own country. For he is too weak in the political environment of his organization.

What Tools and Procedures are there for Service and Process Innovation?

The visualization of complex services and processes is the first challenge that many organizations face. It is well known that a technical drawing can describe a component exactly. Service blueprinting and effective process descriptions based on BPMN are established competencies only in quite mature organizations. But without visualization, every conceptual work is a hurdle race in the dark.

Design thinking makes a decisive contribution to understanding customer needs. Particularly in service innovation, but also in process innovation. Service innovation is a people business. The same is largely true for process innovations. Especially in transactional processes such as sales processes, personnel processes, innovation processes or other administrative processes.

The technological component of process design often plays an important role in manufacturing, assembly and logistics. The inventive problem solving TRIZ, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly or Design for Automated Assembly are means of allowing new solution concepts and unimagined advances. Next to those standard innovation tools, which apply in all types of innovation.

The houses of quality function deployment have been established for many decades. They form a core component of process design and service design.

Before the service innovations and process innovations can be released into reality, they have to be put through their paces. Service staging, stakeholder simulations and process simulations are powerful tools.


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