The Service Delivery Network (SDN): A Customer-Centric Perspective of the Customer Journey
In this article, we introduce the concept of the service delivery network (SDN) defined as two or more organizations that, in the eyes of the customer, are responsible for the provision of a connected overall service experience. This responds to calls for frameworks recognizing that dyadic service encounters are embedded in the series of experiences customers have with complementary providers as part of the journey to achieve their desired goals. Adopting an SDN perspective presents a dramatically different set of challenges for managers and provides research opportunities challenging the current view of established service concepts. Managers must recognize that to better serve the customer they need to understand the role that they play in the customer-defined service journey and be prepared to coordinate their activities with complementary providers. Participating in helping build and manage the SDN for the customer, or understanding how they fit into customer's self-designed SDN, becomes a central challenge, often requiring firms to develop a new set of capabilities. The SDN also challenges the way we view many of the core concepts in service research, which are anchored in the dyadic view. This provides considerable opportunity for future inquiry. We present a series of research questions, inspired by the SDN, organized into categories including building cooperative and collaborative networks, customer cocreation, systems thinking, customer relationship management, managing service failure and recovery, building capabilities, and customer-to-customer interactions.