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Customers’ Willingness to Buy Services - A qualitative multiple case study

Marcus Bexell ; Gustaf Larsson
Göteborg : Chalmers tekniska högskola, 2018. 63 s. Master thesis. E - Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden; E2017:112, 2018.
[Examensarbete på avancerad nivå]

Problem Previous studies on services have focused on the perspective of the manufacturer and are based on the assumption that customers want to buy services from the manufacturer of the product. However, customers also buy services related to a product from third-party service providers or provide the services in-house. Therefore, it is of interest to study services from a customer perspective and the factors that determine how services are handled. This area has been largely ignored in previous studies. The study was conducted in collaboration with a case company that develops and sells heat pump systems. The company had identified the customer segments, construction operators, module rental firms and property owners, beforehand, but wanted to gain additional insights into how to approach the customers and how to develop a profitable value proposition, i.e. how to package their offering in accordance with the customer demand. Purpose The purpose of this study is to analyze the factors that determine and influence customers’ ways of handling their services. Literature Review A concept that captures the essence of the study of services is servitization. Although lacking a unanimous definition, there are common factors in the different definitions of servitization. The main difference is whether it describes a static or dynamic process. There are also other concepts related to servitization, but they all center around the idea of offering customers both products and services. Literature also describes various frameworks for classifying different services and degrees of servitization. In an attempt to reach consensus, a new product-service continuum is proposed. Moreover, different drivers for servitization, for both manufacturers (e.g. financial, strategic and innovation factors) and customers (e.g. focus on core business), are described. Here, the concepts outsourcing and backsourcing become relevant and insightful. Maintenance is a common form of service, and three types of maintenance management can be employed: run-to-failure management, preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance. Methodology Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews and questionnaires, and secondary data was collected through browsing websites and databases. Ten interviews were conducted and 30 questionnaires were answered by customers and service providers. The customer segments examined consisted of construction operators, module rental firms and property owners, and their service providers consisted of machine rental firms, district heating suppliers and third party service providers. These actors were interviewed in a qualitative, multiple case study. The collected data was thematically analyzed based on the research questions. Results The results of this study show that customers within the same customer segment and customers across different customer segments handle their services differently. The way of handling services mainly depends on four factors: structural inertia, level of competence, cost/value-relation and risk aversion and control. It can also be concluded that the customers put limited emphasis into their choices of service provision, which can be due to the relatively low competition in the industry. Although services related to the product are not part of most customers’ core business, it is still vital that the product functions properly. Therefore, it can be argued that the customers should reassess the services related to their heating systems. Proposals for future studies include examining under which circumstances in a firm’s environment it is appropriate to buy more or less services, and validating the results of this study in other industries.

Publikationen registrerades 2018-02-08. Den ändrades senast 2018-02-08

CPL ID: 254881

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