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Designing Servicescapes For Transformative Service Conversations: Lessons From Mental Health Services

Journal of Consumer Marketing

Ahir Gopaldas, Anton Siebert, Burçak Ertimur


Dyadic services research has increasingly focused on helping providers facilitate transformative service conversations with consumers. Extant research has thoroughly documented the conversational skills that providers can use to facilitate consumer microtransformations (i.e.small changes in consumers’ thoughts, feelings and action plans toward their well-being goals). At the same time, extant research has largely neglected the role of servicescape design in transformative service conversations despite some evidence of its potential significance.To redress this oversight, this article aims to examine how servicescape design can be used to better facilitate consumer microtransformations in dyadic service conversations. This article is based on an interpretive study of mental health services (i.e.counseling, psychotherapy and coaching). Both providers and consumers were interviewed about their lived experiences of service encounters.Informants frequently described the spatial and temporal dimensions of their service encounters as crucial to their experiences of service encounters. These data are interpreted through the lens of servicescape design theory, which disentangles servicescape design effects into dimensions, strategies, tactics, experiences and outcomes. The data reveal two servicescape design strategies that help facilitate consumer microtransformations.“Service sequestration” is a suite of spatial design tactics (e.g., private offices) that creates strong consumer protections for emotional risk-taking. “Service serialization” is a suite of temporal design tactics (e.g., recurring appointments) that creates predictable rhythms for emotional risk-taking.The effects of service sequestration and service serialization on consumer microtransformations are mediated by psychological safety and psychological readiness, respectively. This article develops a conceptual model of servicescape design strategies for transformative service conversations.This model explains how and why servicescape design can influence consumer microtransformations.The article also begins to transfer servicescape design tactics from mental health services to other dyadic services that seek to facilitate consumer microtransformations.Examples of such services include career counseling, divorce law, financial advising, geriatric social work, nutrition counseling, personal styling and professional organizing.

Dyadic Services, Mental Health, Microtransformations, Psychological Readiness, Psychological Safety, Service Encounters, Servicescape Design, Service Conversations


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