Walt Disney Company’s focus never veers from making people happy. Its entire operation focuses on making people happy—this is their service concept from the design of its rides to the conduct of its personnel to the vibes received from ubiquitous festive themes—and just about everything else.

A good friend’s daughter left her teddy bear at a Disney resort which can easily manifest into a catastrophe for a four-year-old. But Disney has toy rescue operators for which “hosts” and “characters” fan out in rapid response. The next morning, the young girl found her teddy bear on the family’s doorstep, special delivery. Inside, her teddy bear was comfortably nestled in padding, and any past heartache was gone. All that was left was a positive experience from the resort.

In the Disney example, a cynic might interpret the service concept as clever branding. But a service concept is much more—it drives the branding. The service concept is the purpose for the organization’s existence, the compass heading for goal setting and objectives. Everything else therefore, including behind-the-scenes, must align.

Among associations, the service concept is the why and wherefore that motivates members to join and engage. The service concept, in other words, is the mutual affinity between individuals and the organization. Service concepts are a pivotal factor for evaluating ideas.

The service concept is the why and wherefore that motivates members to join and engage. It is the attraction toward the organization and also the glue that binds staff toward a common mission and purpose.

As a launch pad for Service Design, the service concept is the driver of decisions, helping direct research, used to determine what reinforces the organization and what is detracting.

Too often organizations lose focus over time. The reasons include technology updates, the search for new members and revenue and many other factors. The service concept, though, helps focuses on future actions and planning.  For Service Design, a service concept is a guidepost for the programs and services that need creating or improving to benefit the organization and its most important members and stakeholders.

Service Concept Criteria
•    Defining and expanding the organization’s purpose;
•    Having meaning, easily understood;
•    Appropriate and relevant throughout the organization;
•    Lasting, able to withstand outside environment factors for change.

Service concepts are the measure to be used for evaluating new ideas for member services and programs.

A company that displays its service concept at every opportunity is Southwest Airlines. As the company describes its service concept on their website: “Southwest has been in LUV with our Customers from the very beginning. We began service to San Antonio and Houston from Love Field in Dallas. As our company and customers grew, our LUV grew too with the prettiest flight attendants serving ‘Love Bites’ and tickets issued from our ‘Love Machines.’ Our LUV has spread from coast to coast and border to border.” Even the company’s stock ticker symbol is LUV.

Avoid Decisions – Miss Opportunities 

A service concept helps to cut through in-decision. 

New program ideas often evolve from interactions with others—discovering the needs of members. Ignoring new ideas is at the peril of the organization. Keeping current with member needs–staying relevant to the organization’s purpose is the key to sustainment.  How will an executive know which ones are worth pursuing if executives are risk adverse?

Understandably, some are cautious due to the resources and time commitment involved, with no guarantee of a successful outcome—making it easier to say “no” to new ideas.

A service concept tool, putting in practice the organization’s service concept, can evaluate new ideas quickly while ensuring a balance between the organization’s goals and resources, and membership needs.  The tool helps identify potential risks and serves as a roadmap should there be a decision to move forward. Besides, the tool fosters team engagement for share decision ownership.