Smart Personalisation Service from Burberry

In ‘The Future of Shopping; from high-street to iStreet’  the Daily Telegraph reports on the changing face of shopping with many customers now using high street shops as show rooms where they can view, try on, get the look and feel of products before actually buying on-line.  The mix of services between the on-line world and the high street is a difficult one for retailers but there is no doubt that retail services are changing.

Burberry has not hesitated and is leading fashion retailers in service innovation, with ‘direct-to-buy’ offering fashion direct from the catwalk. A powerful mix of e-commerce and social media strategies enables shoppers to see the new season catwalk show through live streaming and to order personalised versions of clothes and handbags within minutes of seeing them. The New York Times reported in February that the 2013 Autumn show:

. . . was streamed live on Burberry.com, numerous media sites, the Burberry Facebook page and Twitter (a first, Burberry believes). There were 1,500 seats in the specially built show space in Kensington Gardens in London, but the audience potentially was more than 19.3 million, the number of Burberry’s followers across all digital platforms.

When the buy-direct service first started in 2010 it took six months to deliver the catwalk clothes to the customer but now Burberry has reduced this to eight weeks for a specific range, making the acquisition all the more exciting for the customer.  Trench coats being the first in line for the latest made to order smart personalisation service.

Burberry offers a truly innovative approach to delivering customer service, offering not only e-commerce and social media experience but also increasingly immersive content-rich experiences for the customer.

Is it successful?

Burberry plc reports that it :

….continued to advance its leading position on social media in the luxury sector. and …In 2011/12, Burberry’s revenue was £1,857m – a 23% underlying increase on the previous year.

Not only is it successful it is also an excellent example of service innovation.

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Can Service Innovation transform our lives? Case Studies in Service Innovation: Europe 2020

This impressive collection of 29 case studies includes excellent examples of the transformative power of service innovation.

Case Study Report

Meeting the Challenge of Europe 2020: Case Studies illustrate the role of service innovation in transforming our lives through promoting smarter, sustainable and more inclusive growth.

Smarter growth typically involves improved services based on “acquisition and management of information about customer needs and behaviours…”  For example, case study 6 shows how the creation of an innovative ICT platform service enables small and medium size enterprises in the Valtellina region of Italy to reach new customers.

Sustainable growth is development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. For example, case study 15 presents Innovation City Ruhr where an existing city with about 50,000 residents in the Ruhr Region of Germany is being rebuilt as a low-energy city.

Inclusive growth is development which “enables all members of society to participate in the process of wealth creation, in a way commensurate with their own abilities and potential.” Case study 28 presents an example of services for jobseekers in Portugal catering for people with lower level qualifications and skills, enabling them to certify their work experience and gain new qualifications. 

The case studies were used as evidence by an expert panel looking forward to and contributing to policy making for a smarter, sustainable, more inclusive Europe in 2020.

The overall work of the panel resulted in the report “Meeting the Challenge of Europe 2020: The Transformative Power of Service Innovation”. Their remit was to consider “the concrete and specific steps which should be taken at the European level to support service innovation in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy”.

The report was produced by the Expert Panel on Service Innovation in the EU, with assistance from the Secretariat consisting of staff from the Danish Technological Institute (DK), SPRU at the University of Sussex (UK)  and eSTRAT (Lux) and chaired by Allan Mayo, Head, Services Policy Unit at Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK.

Can Service Innovation transform our lives?

Do you have experiences where service innovation has made a difference to you?

How many workmen does it take to repair a leak? Public sector and systems thinking

This remarkable example of innovation concerns Portsmouth City Council’s housing management service and the organisation of repairs on its housing stock. The council provides social housing to over 17,000 tenants and as you can imagine that also involves responsibility for an awful lot of repair work and repair workers.

Repair worker

From a tenant’s point of view if a repair needs doing on your council house such as a leaking roof or a faulty heating system, you want the repair to be carried out in one visit , at a convenient time, and you want it fixed properly i.e. for repair workers: “ to do the right repair at the right time”. Not unreasonable!

Alarmingly, the start to finish time for a repair was a lengthy 24 days, and some repairs required 4 or more visits before the job was complete. Despite tenants complaining bitterly about the service, “the service was praised by inspectors” and was meeting government targets and budget constraints.  This was achieved by:

  • fragmenting a single job into many smaller jobs and setting targets at this level
  • patching up problems rather than allowing tradesmen to fix the root cause.

This emphasis on short term targets contributed to a loss of focus on the fundamental purpose of the repair system and a major re-think was needed.

Systems Thinker John Seddon and his colleagues worked with the council staff and their contractors to enable them to think about the repair management service as a whole:

  • What is its purpose?
  • Who are the people involved?
  • What are the processes?
  • How should the service be measured?

. . . and most importantly how do the people, processes and structures relate to each other?

. . . and how should they work together to achieve the purpose of the system?

general concept of “system” underpinning systems thinking (Schoderbek et al., 1990)

Using the knowledge gained the council set about a major re-design of the service placing the tenant at the centre within an idealised three step process:

  1. Ensure access to property
  2. Diagnose the problem
  3. Complete all necessary repairs

Tradesmen diagnose the problem and decide on the best way to solve it, and all necessary materials are brought to the property to complete the repairs i.e. “to do the right repair at the right time”.

As a result the start to finish time for repairs has been reduced from 24 days to 7 days, over 90% of jobs are completed right first time and a customer satisfaction rating of 99% achieved.

The innovation illustrated by this case is one of a public sector organisation adopting a new way of thinking that fundamentally affects how they operate. The Council’s housing management service took the bold step of examining the way they work at present, seeing the shortcomings and being ready to adopt a totally new holistic and systems way of thinking.

For further information about the Portsmouth City Council Case see below, all quotations are taken from this article:

A Systems Approach to Housing Repairs, by John Seddon and Brendan O’Donovan

Service Science: Research and Innovations in the Service Economy, 2012, Case Studies in Service Innovation, Part 4, Pages 91-94

Also see the video at the end of this interesting article, it illustrates the problem faced by the repair service using a different case i.e. repairing holes in roads:

 “We were so busy, we just didn’t know” Seeing the whole system always comes as a surprise”

Reference for  General Concept of “System” (Schoderbek et al., 1990)

Schoderbek, P. P., Schoderbek, C. G. and Kefalas, A, G. (1990). Management Systems: Conceptual Considerations, (4th ed), Irwin, Boston.

Comments or observations are most welcome. I would love to hear of similar cases.

About this blog

Innovation is an exciting part of our everyday lives (or at least it should be!). The purpose of this blog is to share examples of innovation and to celebrate achievements of design and technology in creating new services and influencing our future.

Welcome!

I hope you will enjoy the blog and share your knowledge and experience.

Initially the main topics will be:

Service Innovation Cases: real life examples of innovation together with links to further resources for those wishing to learn more. Examples from all sectors and of all types will be included.

Technology: almost every day it seems we hear of some exciting new technology that could enhance existing services or help create new ones. The blog will highlight these.

Service Innovators: the blog will recognise practitioners and researchers who have contributed to service innovation as community builders, leaders, researchers or technical innovators. I have met some wonderful service innovators and with your help together we can ‘meet’ even more.

Books and resources: Books and other resources that will help us learn more.

Please do email me if you have any suggestions for inclusion under cases, technology, innovators or resources, or any other comment you wish to make.

Guest blogs also welcome.

Email: info@lindamacaulay.com

Linda

About me

My name is Linda A Macaulay and I am Emeritus Professor at the University of Manchester, UK.  I have always been interested in computers and associated technologies and in how they are used in practice. My early experience as a programmer and system designer in the UK health service impressed on me the importance of designing IT systems that people can actually use. Since then I have had many assignments with business and public sector organisations and see the importance of aligning people, process and technology towards customer/user needs. The heady days of e-commerce at the turn of the millennium and the e-business revolution that followed have opened up new and exciting ways of serving customer needs. The customer can now be part of the design process; can collaborate with others to design and innovate and with social media can create their own services.  The picture is continually changing and I believe there is much to be learnt from seeing examples of what is happening in practice now and what technology might allow us to do in the future, and hence the focus of this blog is on case studies of service innovation.

For further information about me see www.lindamacaulay.com