Service Product Management: An Oxymoron or a Reality?

Till now, we have considered how product management is done in companies that have different product lines and brands. Now, in this article, we would consider whether the term service product management or the process of managing the entire lifecycle of services is an oxymoron or is indeed a concept that is realistic and feasible. Take for instance, personal relationship management in banks and investment houses.

Most of us would have had the experience of dealing with our personal banker or investment advisor who typically handles all our concerns and issues and directs us towards new products and services. Since banks and financial institutions fall under the category of service sector companies, it is fair to conclude that this aspect of service management is indeed service product management.

The first stage of a service product management is the ideation or the idea generation stage where the product manager in the Services Company has to pitch in for new products and services aimed at customers. Depending on the market segments covered and the different niches that are targeted, the new services are launched after extensive market research regarding their feasibility and acceptability among consumers belonging to these market segments.

The point here is that service product management is as intensive as pure play product management and entails the same stages and phases in the lifecycle of the service.

Of course, the important difference is that unlike in product management that deals with physical products, the service managers often deal in intangibles and notional values of services as opposed to fixed concepts in product management.

The other aspect of service product management is the personal relationship part where the personal banker or the relationship manager has to manage the relationship given the fact that the product here is the actual service and not a physical asset. This is important from the point of view of the service manager since personal relationships form the basis for service product management and are the cornerstones of service product management.

Finally, the service product management is also concerned with supporting the other business processes like finance, legal and administrative functions. For instance, it is common for service product managers to take care of the legal aspects of managing the relationship and the level of customer satisfaction since the customer experience is paramount in service management.

Hence, the service product management is typically more of a soft skill thing rather than a hard factor system thing.

The point here is that service product managers manage the relationship internally and externally as opposed to physical product launches and distribution which along with sales and marketing form the product lifecycle. Of course, it is common to hear this terminology in the services sector as well since service sector companies refer to the same concepts except that they do not sell physical products.

In conclusion, service product management is coming of age just now and the future trends in the service sector would determine how well this concept takes off in a big way in the sector.

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