What is Service Thinking for Social Problems?

Social problems such as drinking, smoking, obesity, food waste, electricity over-use, violence and water over-use are typically addressed by the public and non-profit sector by policy-makers, communicators and social marketers. However, despite the money spent on solving these problems, they seem to continue. Thus we need to find more innovative ways of creating healthy, happy societies.  The development of services to help these problems is often core to the public and non-profit sector’s programs yet there is not always a service thinking approach used that places the customer at the heart of the service design. For effective uptake and impact of such services amongst people and populations, programs need to be designed that consider the service experience, the service employee, service quality/customer value and the active role of the customer in value creation.

Service thinking can be positioned as a meso-level approach to social marketing which is the least discussed or applied of the three levels in the social services ecosystem (macro, meso, and micro). Traditionally, social marketing scholarship and practice exhibits a binary of individualised consumer behaviour approaches (micro or individual level) or structural/policy/regulation approaches (macro or environmental level). We propose that services marketing links these two levels by operating at the meso level (organisations and key influencers) to connect policymakers, cultural systems and institutions (macro level) and the individuals who uses these services (micro).

A service thinking approach to social problems assists the shift from organisation-oriented models to customer-oriented processes. Services marketing offers theories that not only address individual responses but also incorporates institutional factors.

On this website there are series of projects involving QUT researchers that demonstrate a services thinking approach to social problems along with free resources that can help in your organisation. We hope you find this website useful.

To understand more about service thinking for social problems click here.