Why services should die and what makes the process so difficult

Minna Vänskä Senior Service Designer, Solita

Published 13 Jun 2024

Reading time 5 min

Why should services die? What value does the ending bring?

All companies want to have a simple and appealing service offering, right? It’s easy if you are a startup. You have a clean table to start from. It’s more difficult if you are an established product or service company that has been churning out new stuff year by year. There is value in endings; here are some examples.

For your customers: Simplicity enhances the user experience. We need to strive to reduce unnecessary complexity every day and all the time. We need to reduce cognitive load, stress, anxiety, and a sense of being overwhelmed. Saving your customers’ time leads into a more streamlined, effective, and enjoyable experiences. We know that the abundance of choices available in modern society may lead to decision paralysis and decreased satisfaction, even regret. Beyond a certain point, additional choices do not lead to increased happiness or satisfaction. Simplicity facilitates a user’s learning and evokes positive emotions.

For your business: The upkeep of services that are no longer meeting your customers’ needs is expensive. Responding to customer feedback and creating updates is taking your employees’ time and focus away from the more viable business. Customers will value if we can limit options, simplify their decision-making process, and as a company focus on intrinsic values rather than external comparisons. Creating a narrower service portfolio is a balancing act between simplicity and the functionality of your offering, but once reached, it is often easier and more efficient to maintain.

For innovation: constraints may stimulate creativity and innovation. By embracing constraints, designers are forced to focus on essential elements and find innovative solutions within limitations. Technology can both enable simplicity or complicate, we should always remember that people just want to get the job done.

We don’t want to break hearts. While ending a service or reducing its complexity may eventually lead to better customer experience, it can also be the end of an era for the users – especially if they have developed a strong emotional attachment to the service.

Customers develop an emotional bond with services

Do you remember a product or a service that you missed after it was gone? Something so lovable or attached to your everyday life that it made a lasting impression, and you felt hurt when that bond was broken.

  • What did it feel like when the service was shut down?
  • Did you think about why the change was mandatory?
  • What would have made the experience better for you as a loyal customer?

Common reasons why people miss services or products when they end

Services have become intertwined with significant memories and experiences from people’s lives and can evoke strong emotions and nostalgia for a better time.

Some products and brands become symbols of identity and self-expression for individuals or communities.

Services may have introduced groundbreaking innovations ahead of their time; they offered transforming experiences and a sense of admiration and nostalgia for their pioneering spirit. Some products and services consistently delivered high quality and reliability over time and built trust and loyalty among consumers.

The taste, smell, touch & feel, colors, and sounds are all part of product and service design and may make it especially loved.

Certain services become ingrained in cultural consciousness and popular culture, shaping societal norms and trends. People appreciate the craftsmanship and dependability. Some services foster a sense of community and belonging among users like a local coffee shop or library. A change may cause people to be “recovering for a long time” or need to take on some heavy work when trying to find a replacement service.

Overall, the emotional attachment people feel towards certain products and services reflects the meaningful role they play in people’s lives, whether through memories, identity, innovation, cultural significance, quality, or community. This emotional connection often transcends the functional aspects of the services, making them cherished and memorable parts of people’s past.

Take these aspects into account when a service needs to end and find ways to mitigate the impact and maintain a good relationship with your customers.

You may have the KPIs and metrics to see what is relevant for your business and your customers, the tools to know what to end and when. You may have the courage and ability to make the (sometimes hard) changes in your offering and organisation. But only if you master the art of ending will your offering appear easy to use, easy to choose from, valuable, and serve your business and customers better. Read more in the coming blog about how to curate your service portfolio and end services.

  1. Business