What is Service Thinking for Social Problems?

Policy-makers, communicators and social marketers, within the public and non-profit sector, address social problems such as smoking, food waste, electricity over-use and violence. Despite ongoing efforts, these ‘wicked’ problems continue. Therefore, we need to find more innovative ways of creating healthy, happy societies.

Services are often developed to help these problems, yet a service thinking approach is not always used. The customer should be at the heart of the service design and delivery. For effective uptake and impact, program design should consider the service experience, service employee, service quality and the active role of the customer in value creation.

Service thinking is positioned as a meso-level approach to social marketing; 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 either individualised approaches (micro level) or policy and regulatory approaches (macro level). We propose that services marketing links these two by operating at the meso level (organisations and key influencers); connecting policymakers, cultural systems and institutions (macro) and the individuals who use these services (micro).

A service thinking approach to social problems shifts from organisation-oriented to customer-oriented processes. Services marketing offers theories that not only address individual responses but also incorporates institutional, societal and cultural factors.

This website features QUT research projects that demonstrate a services thinking approach to social problems. Free resources are also available to help your organisation. We hope you find this website useful.

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