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Paper info: Towards Joint Value Creation Processes in Professional Services


Towards Joint Value Creation Processes in Professional Services


Nina Helander and Pauliina Hirvonen

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 16th IMP-conference in Bath, U.K in 2000.


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In this paper, we study customer relationships in professional services. Focus is especiallydirected towards learning and personnel development services that are provided for thecustomer organisations. Learning and personnel development services include different kindsof courses and personnel development plans that are provided for the customer organisationand for its personnel. In business-to-business context, such services are very complex innature and require special attention from marketers. The purpose of this paper is to propose aframework for managing such professional service relationships in a way that creates valuefor the both parties and enables the marketer to discover also those customer needs, which thecustomer itself is not even aware of. Furthermore, our intention is to show how a professionalservice company can benefit from understanding its customer's value creation process. Thebasic idea is that every customer has own processes by which it creates value through itsbusiness activities. By understanding these processes the provider can identify much moredeeply all the concerns and goals related to customer's business activities. In this way theproducer can provide better solutions for the customer and build a lasting relationship withthe customer.However, the way the service provider is going to answer to the needs of the customer alwayshas to be profitable to the provider, at least when evaluated in the long run. In other words,the main idea is to connect one's own core competencies and value creation process to thevalue creation process of the customer. Through this kind of zippering115 both parties of therelationship are ready to adapt their processes to each other so that the value is created forboth.Furthermore, our overall aim is to illustrate the benefits of zippering with the help of a casecompany, which provides learning and research services for other companies. Our intention is to achieve this aim by defining the process by which the customer companies develop theirpersonnel and by identifying the concerns they have in these processes. After identifyingthese, one can create a strategy that can be used in zippering the processes of the customerand the provider together.