Credits: 6

Schedule: 08.01.2019 - 14.02.2019

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Tomas Falk

Teaching Period (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

III 2018–19 (spring) Töölö campus
III 2019–20 (spring) Otaniemi campus

Independent self-learning course (2019-20)

Learning Outcomes (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

By attending the self-learning course, participants will acquire a conceptual toolbox enabling them to better understand and analyze recent developments in service business. In particular, after having attended the course, participants will be able to better understand how to integrate customers and technology in service delivery, to assess and optimize service quality, to design effective service recovery measures, and to develop hybrid offerings in terms of innovative product-service combinations. Overall, the course aims at providing students with a solid foundation for designing and managing service businesses as well as conducting scientific research in this domain.

Content (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

The module is designed as an independent self-learning course based on several reading packages incorporating seminal service research articles. In addition, an accompanying text book will provide additional guidance. The course starts with approaching the foundations of service business based on the four main characteristics of services: intangibility, heterogeneity, inseparability, and perishability. Next, to capture service quality as a major aim of service provision, the module discusses prominent service quality concepts such as the Gap-model, SERVQUAL, blueprinting, and the Critical Incident Technique. Moreover, the course also covers seminal tools for measuring service quality on the Internet. Given the general failure-proneness of service encounters, strategies for designing effective service recovery are discussed in the following. In particular, recovery episodes for co-created services on the Internet play an important role in this part of the lecture. The course continues with identifying technology in general and self-service technologies in particular as major drivers of service innovation. Following the increasing importance of technology for delivering services, participants will also discuss to what extent artificial intelligence might replace human service labor. To course closes with discussing hybrid offerings as service-oriented solutions in B2B-settings.

Assessment Methods and Criteria (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Videotaped PechaKucha presentation (15%)
Individual reflection notes (50%)
Case study report (10%)
Take home exam (25%)

Workload (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

6 credits, 160 hours:

Independent self-learning course:
● Individual report and videotaped PechaKucha presentation about the consumption of an innovative service (24 h)
● Individual reflection notes on seminal service research articles (72 h)
● Case study report (24 h)
● Script and online videos on service management (16 h)
● Take Home Exam (24 h)

Details on calculating the workload (applies in this implementation): 

Overview on course assignments and grading criteria

The course encompasses
the following grading elements, which are explained in more detail in following:

1.      Pre-assignment:
reflection on a current service innovation and PechaKucha presentation (20%)

2.      Class
participation (10%)

3.      Individual
reflection notes (10%)

4.      Group
presentations (20%)

5.      Take
home exam (40%)


1. Pre-assignment

1.1 Idea:

Please reflect on an innovative service that you have
recently started to use on a regular base (note that you are free to determine
the service you want to relate your answer to. The service might relate to your
private consumption or might be business related) and answer the following

1. Shortly
describe the service you reflect on. What are the main features of the service?

2. Why
did you start to use the service? Try to depict the main drivers of your
initial decision to start using the service.

3. What
(if anything) may other companies learn from the service provider you are
referring to?


1.2 Format and timeline:

Please prepare a written, max. 800
word report
on the three questions indicated above.

2. Please also prepare a PechaKucha presentation based on your written report. PechaKucha
refers to a presentation style in which a specific number of slides are shown
for a specified time (more information on PechaKucha in general can be found at For this lecture, a maximum of 10 slides can be
shown for 30 seconds each (i.e., the maximal total presentation time is 5
minutes. Shorter submissions are possible.). The format should keep
presentations concise and fast-paced. You might use graphical illustrations and
textual elements in your presentation.

3. Please
submit both, your written report and the PechaKucha presentation. Grading of
the pre-assignment will be based on the written report and the submitted

4. The
task is designed as an individual work.

5. Grading
of the pre-assignment will be based on a scale from 1-20 points.

6. The
lecturer will ask selected participants to present their ideas on one of the
lecture days. Selection of presentations is based on the types of services
introduced in the submissions and aims at covering a diverse set of different
services. Given time constraints, not all students will have the chance to
present their work. Presentations are thought to trigger in-class discussions
on current trends in service management. Feedback on the submissions (report
and presentation) might be provided during the lecture days.

7. The deadline
for submitting your pre-task is Jan. 4, 2019, 01.00 pm Finnish time to On-time submission of the pre-task is mandatory to
participate in and to pass the course! Clearly indicate your name on the
submission and the respective file.


2. Class participation

A student whose class participation is excellent is
someone who is physically and cognitively present during the lectures, contributes
consistently to class discussions, and indicates thorough preparation and
analytic insight. The student also consistently builds on conceptual models
discussed in class or presented in the reading package, on empirical evidence
on a topic, and on contributions of others in order to craft a more complete
understanding of the issues being discussed. The student’s responses when cold
called are also of high quality. Class participation excellence typically
requires physical presence in at least 90% of the lectures.


3. Individual
reflection notes (10%):

3.1 Idea:

In order to assure high quality learning outcomes,
students are kindly asked to prepare an individual reflection note on one out of two topics. The
reflection note discusses two guiding questions on the selected topic. Each
topic features a set of seminal articles in the field, with which the students
should familiarize themselves.


3.2 Format and

1. Please select one out of three topics listed below.

2. Prepare a max. 1000
word reflection note
on one of the topics presented below by answering the
respective guiding questions.

3. Submit your reflection note by February, 3, 2019
(midnight) to

4. Clearly
indicate your name on the submission and the respective file.


3.3 Topics

A. Service and Technology


M. D., S. G. Robinson, N. J. Sirianni, and M. K. Brady (2014), “Touch Versus
Tech: When Technology Functions as a Barrier or a Benefit to Service
Encounters,” Journal of Marketing, 78
(4), 113-124.

M.-H. and R. T. Rust (2017), “Technology-Driven Service Strategy,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science,
45 (6), 906-924.

M.-H. and R. T. Rust (2018), “Artificial Intelligence in Service”, Journal of Service Research, 21 (2), 155–172.

D., K. de Ruyter, M.-H. Huang, M. Meuter, and G. Challagalla (2017), “Getting
Smart: Learning from Technology Empowered Frontline Interactions,” Journal of Service Research, 20 (1),

M.L., M. J. Bitner, A. Ostrom, and S. W. Brown (2005), “Choosing Among
Alternative Service Delivery Modes: An Investigation of Customer Trial of
Self-Service Technologies,” Journal of
, 69 (2), 61-83.

D.G. and S. Fournier (1998), “Paradoxes of Technology: Consumer Cognizance,
Emotions, and Coping Strategies,” Journal of Consumer Research, 25 (2),


A. Literature proposes that many service encounters have
been transforming away from a “high-touch, low-tech” paradigm to a “low-touch,
high-tech” paradigm. Do you agree? Please debate. (max. 400 words)

B. To what extent may artificial intelligence replace
human service labor? Please discuss. (max. 600 words)


B. Services in B2B-Settings


G., Venkatesh, R., A. K. Kohli (2009), ”P
roactive Postsales
Service: When and Why Does it Pay Off?,” Journal
of Marketing
, 73 (2), 70-87.

M. A., Kahl, S. J., and F. F. Suarez (2015),”
Services, Industry,
Evolution, and the Competitive Strategies of Product Firms,“ Strategic Management Journal, 36 (4),

E., Palmatier, R. W., and J.-B. E. M. Steenkamp, (2008), ”
of Service Transition Strategies on Firm Value, Journal of Marketing, 72 (5), 1–14.

K. R., Kohli, A. K., and S. G. Bharadwaj, S. G. (2007),”Rethinking Customer
Solutions: From Product Bundles to Relational Processes, “Journal of Marketing, 71(3), 1-17.

Ulaga, W. and W.
J. Reinartz (2011), “Hybrid
Offerings: How Manufacturing Firms Combine Goods and Services Successfully,” Journal of Marketing, 75 (6), 5-23.

S., Bharadwaj, S.G., Ulaga, W., and W. J. Reinartz (2017), “When and Why Do
Customer Solutions Pay Off in Business Markets?,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 45(4), 490-512.


A. Define the concept of customer solutions in your
own words. (max. 400 words)

B. Are customer solutions the holy grail towards more
profitable business operations? (max. 600 words)


4. Group presentations

4.1 Idea:

1. Please
organize yourselves into groups of max. five members. The group allocation will
be facilitated during the first lectures on Tuesday, Jan. 8 and finalized on
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.

2. Select
one Finnish subject company to focus on during the group work. Appropriate
subject companies might include well-known brands such as Amer Sports, Finnair,
Fiskars, Kone, Marimekko, Rovio, Viking Line to name a few. Please decide upon
the target company by Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 (name of the company to be
indicated during the lecture).

3. Your
task is to come up with a relevant business objective for your target company
that can be solved by designing a new service for a particular segment of
customers. You are encouraged to consider the following aspects when designing
the service:

A. What
is the business objective of your organization that the service will address?

B. Describe
the customer group you are designing the service for. What is the need, want, problem,
or desire you are addressing for your customer group with your service

C. Describe
your service concept as a value proposition as well as the basic features of
the service (i.e., what is the service?).

Depict your service based on a blueprint.

E. Develop
a fake ad promoting your service offer.

F. How
will you know that you have succeeded in reaching that business objective?


4.2 Format and timeline:

1. Each
group will present its suggestion for an innovative service offering on
Tuesday, Feb. 12 or Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Presentations should not exceed 10
min in length in order to leave enough room for discussion. We will try to
invite target company representatives to attend the group presentations.

2. Please submit your presentation in pdf-format
latest by Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, at 12.00 (noon) Finnish time to

3. Clearly
indicate your group members on the submitted file.


5. Take home
exam (40%)

5.1 Idea

Students prepare an individual reflection note
on selected articles exploring topical issues in service business. The article
package will be communicated during the lecture on Feb. 7, 2019 latest.

5.2 Format and

1. Please apply the following format for your

Word or pdf-file; font Arial 12; line spacing 1,3.

Maximum of 1500 words plus a separate reference list
if needed (note that references are not explicitly required). Other appendices
will not be graded.

Please stick to the defined word count; only content
provided within the maximum word count including a 10% buffer will be graded.

indicate the correct word count along with your student number on the front
page of your submission.

2. Timeline:

Instructions for the Take Home Exam and the respective
articles will be provided latest during the session on Feb. 7, 2019 and a
respective document will be uploaded to MyCourses after that session.

Please pay special attention to the guiding questions,
which should be addressed in your reflection note.

in your written statement by March 07, 2019 (midnight) via e-mail to

Make sure to clearly indicate your name and student
number on the submitted document.

3. Material:

You are free to use any material for preparing your
statement. References should be cited properly according to the American
Psychological Association (APA) citation guidelines:

4. Grading:

Please get acquainted with the following grading

Take home exams will be graded on a scale from 0 to 40

Carefully consider the guiding questions when
preparing your answers. Try tackle the essence of the question and pay
attention to signal words used in the question (e.g., describe, depict,
discuss, explain etc.).

Precisely define the concepts you are referring to in
your answer.

Build a logical flow of argumentation in order to
develop a convincing storyline.

You may use examples to illustrate and support your
line of reasoning.

Try to provide convincing rationale for suggestions or
evaluations that you may give.

Excellent answers typically precisely cover the core
of the questions, define relevant concepts in a clear manner using
easy-to-understand language, develop a coherent line of argumentation, and
offer concrete implications which are meaningfully substantiated (i.e., do not
strike the reader out of the blue). Most importantly, writers should show their
ability to critically deal with the subject of interest by including their own
grounded, personal assessment of the matter (e.g., by discussing pros and cons
of an issue).

We will check
for plagiarism; in extreme cases of plagiarism, the submission might be
declared as invalid and the candidate fails this part of the course.

Study Material (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Coursebook (2019-20): Wilson, A., V. A. Zeithaml, M. J. Bitner, and D. D. Gremler (2012), Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus Across the Firm (2nd ed.). Maidenhead, Berkshire: McGraw Hill

Coursebook (2018-2019): Wirtz, Jochen and Christopher Lovelock (2016): Services Marketing: People -Technology - Strategy, 8th ed.


Course script and a collection of articles provided by the lecturer.

Course Homepage (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):

Registration for Courses (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Registration via WedOodi. Check registration time in WebOodi.

Further Information (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

The number of students admitted to the course is restricted to 40. Priority is given to Aalto students studying in MSc Program of Marketing.

Details on the schedule (applies in this implementation): 



Registration and further information