Research Areas 
 

Digital Economy 

Most of the online and multichannel businesses are service providers and they need to be managed differently from traditional services. S.Lab studies online and multichannel business management from a multidisciplinary perspective, including, among others, the following disciplines: Strategy (e.g. business model), Marketing (e.g. digital marketing, social media, neuromarketing and AI), Operations (e.g. logistics, customer service) and Information Systems (e.g. systems architecture). Examples of questions that can be addressed through projects in this area:

  1. How to design digital business models that drive competitive advantage and are economically sustainable?
  2. How to optimize the several available channels of service delivery in order to increase leads and boost sales?
  3. How to design and manage online fulfilment operations?
  4. How to design excellent multichannel customer experiences, taking advantage of digital technologies?
  5. How to benefit from new technological advances to empower businesses with the ability to expand service offerings and enhance customer experience?

New Service Design and Customer Experience

Services are often designed in an ad hoc and informal manner. Additionally, many services are oriented towards transactions rather than towards the creation of good customer experiences. S.Lab develops and applies methodologies for designing services in a structured way that balance customer experience and operational efficiency (Design Thinking from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany, Service Blueprinting, etc.).

Examples of questions that can be addressed through projects in this area:

  1. How to define the service concept?
  2. How to translate the service concept into a set of well-articulated processes capable of providing a good service experience to customers?
  3. How to redesign the customer and staff experience in the provision of a new service?
  4. Which channels should be used to support the interaction of customers with the service provider? How to design the separation between the service’s front and back offices?
  5. How to choose the location of a new service?
  6. How to design operations in a way that supports efficient service delivery throughout the entire customer experience?
  7. How to collect and treat data obtained through Biofeedback, AI, Image and Signal Processing, and Applied Neurosciences to design a better experience?
  8. How to organize the new service design process in order to ensure a structured decision-making process and foster the collaboration across the different functions within the firm?
  9. How to implement and maintain an innovation strategy in service firms and in public services?

Service Process Improvement 

S.Lab diagnoses and improves service delivery processes.

Not all the existing processes within firms work as expected or are designed in a way that optimises flows. S.Lab analyses service delivery processes and prepares proposals for improvement through the application of proven methodologies (lean, six sigma, quality).

Examples of projects in this area:

  1. Measurement of perceived service quality using customer satisfaction surveys, focus groups, analysis of customer complaints, etc.
  2. Identification of critical points in the quality of service delivery with respect to errors, waiting time, staff training needs, etc.
  3. Identification and elimination of waste in service delivery through the application of the Lean philosophy.
  4. Analysis of ways to increase customer loyalty.
  5. Design of customer service and service recovery systems.

Benchmarking and Performance Measurement 

Increases in productive efficiency enable cost-cutting without compromising the quality and the volume of the output that is produced. S.Lab develops and applies tools to measure performance (including online tools) and carries out comparative efficiency studies between similar production/service units (e.g. retail outlets, bank branches, schools, hospitals, etc.). These studies make it possible to achieve efficiency gains and to identify the most efficient units (benchmarks) that may be used as references or best practices sites.

Examples of questions that can be addressed through projects in this area:

  1. Which business units present the best practices and the biggest problems?
  2. What is the ideal size of each production unit?
  3. Which targets should be set for each production unit?
  4. Which indicators should be systematically computed to monitor the performance of production units?
  5. How to integrate various indicators in one aggregate performance indicatorfor a firm or a sector of activity?
  6. Which is the best system to manage the units’ performance?
  7. How to streamline internal learning based on the results obtained from monitoring indicators?
  8. How to ensure that the operational indicators of each unit are in line with the strategic goals of the organisation?

Demand Forecasting and Optimization

S.Lab combines economic theory and quantitative methods to cover the following project areas and more:

  1. Demand forecasting (for all type of firms and products:

    Quantify how much the firm can expect to sell of each product.
     
  2. Pricing optimization (for all type of firms and products):

    Evaluate if the firm should increase or decrease its price level to maximize market share, revenue or profit.

     Evaluate if the firm should charge a uniform price level or engage in price discrimination strategies to maximize market share, revenue or profit.
     
  3. Product/service design optimization (for manufacturing and service firms):

    Determine the characteristics that the firm should incorporate or change in its product/service to maximize market share, revenue or profit.
     
  4. Product assortment optimization (for retail firms):

    Determine the assortment of products that the firm should offer to its customers to maximize market share, revenue or profit.
     
  5. Store layout optimization (for retail firms):

    Define the display layout of products that maximizes market share, revenue or profit.

Servitization 

Increasingly, manufacturing firms are providing services (e.g., product design, maintenance and monitoring of equipment) as a way to differentiate themselves and increase profitability. S.Lab studies models to organise and manage service-related activities in manufacturing firms.

Examples of questions that can be addressed through projects in this area:

  • It is possible or desirable to shift from selling products to selling solutions? (e.g., selling “availability of equipment” rather than selling equipment);
  • How to develop a business model based on hybrid product and service offerings? Or based on the operational performance of equipment?
  • Which services may be offered and how can they contribute to profitability?
  • How to design and change the firm’s organisational structure in order to support service delivery?

Activities 

S.Lab deploys an evidence-based approach, an emerging movement that aims to use the best evidence available to support management and decision-making. A significant amount of research in management has been produced in recent decades, resulting in a wide set of best practices that cannot be ignored by managers. S.Lab provides scientific evidence in its key research areas using rigorous methods and carries out collaborative applied projects with its partner firms.

S.Lab carries out activities of different types:

Fundamental Research: the goal of this research is to produce innovative knowledge and know-how in the Service Management field that benefits the business and scientific communities and society as a whole. Projects are often carried out in collaboration with firms that share their data and enable the study of real-world cases and the test of innovative solutions, concepts or models. S.Lab can also act as an academic partner in innovative projects suggested by partner firms aimed at producing ground-breaking knowledge and solve original problems.

Proprietary Research: this research is commissioned by the partner firms with the goal of generating competitive advantage through the study of a specific case or problem. This research may take different forms: i) projects of limited duration to solve/analyse a concrete situation; ii) long-term projects involving regular data analysis or support in the research of recurring situations.

Production of White Papers: benchmark studies conducted on behalf of firms with the purpose of keeping their customers and the general public up to date on a relevant issue that affects them, or influencing policies and getting the attention of governmental bodies.

Development of in-company programmes or thematic sessions closely linked to the needs of firms.

Production of case studies on partner firms, spreading their excellence and brand both nationally and internationally.

Organisation of events to disseminate research (workshops, conferences, discussion forums) and training courses, in collaboration with the S.Lab’s partners.