Representatives of Irish and Danish companies came together to share ideas on innovation in service industries – and potentially create new business opportunities – at a two-day conference held in Kilkenny’s Pembroke Hotel last week.
Called the International Innovation Express Workshop, it was hosted by Rikon, Ireland’s leading service innovation centre located in Waterford Institute of Technology, and was sponsored by Enterprise Ireland in association with Service Cluster Ireland, Service Cluster Denmark and Servitize, the Kilkenny-based international service strategy and design company.
Irish companies joined 10 Danish companies and international experts for the workshop to explore the service innovation landscape in both countries, to hear about successes in each market and to identify new opportunities for business growth in the private and public sectors.
“It’s about how can you innovate in what you offer your customers in order to deliver more value to the customer,” explained Aidan Kenny of consultancy Servitize and technology business Instant Opinion. “With services, by their nature, it is very difficult to manage because it is intangible.”
He gave the example of a hotel creating a “customer journey map,” tracing the customer’s experience from when they made their booking, to their arrival and all of the steps along the way until their departure, in order to see what improvements in customer service and satisfaction could be made at each stage.
One hotel noticed, for example, that customers were experiencing a longer waiting period at peak check-in times. So it decided to add a wine-tasting service during those hours, both to give customers a pleasant experience while they waited and also to showcase what the hotel’s restaurant had to offer.
By networking and sharing such lessons among the participants, the hope now is that it can lead to opportunities for collaborations in the two countries.