Service Automation Framework: Part I

Service Automation Framework: Part I

Section 1 – Welcome to the world of Service Automation – H1: Why Service Automation?


Have you ever wondered why some organizations are successful and others – despite good products and services – never achieve the breakthrough that they so aspire to? What is it that makes ‘exponential’ organizations such as Uber, Netflix and Google attract such a devoted group of followers or, in modern terminology, why do so many people ‘like’ these brands so much? How did they come to be at the center of attention, attracting loyal customers from the South Americas to the north of Asia?

It is not a secret that these ‘exponential’ organizations all thrive through Internet technology and their ability to reach millions of potential customers with just a few clicks. The Internet has an impact on society that is beyond imagination, but I’m sure you are already aware of that. New leaders in the market, however, have added an extra dimension to Internet technology, which makes them stand out from any other competitor: customer service. These organizations apply the concept of Service Automation knowing that customer loyalty is the foundation of any organization and that, especially in the fast and open Internet market, it is much more difficult to retain a loyal customer than to acquire a new one.

Ever since the early start of the century, we have become accustomed to searching, evaluating and purchasing products online. We (the ‘self-service generation’) have become used to speedy delivery, easy product returns and to share our opinion about the product on digital platforms for the world to see. Think about when you made your last online transaction. Was it more or less than a couple of days ago?

What started with products has gradually transcended to the world of services. Through the Internet, you can now search, evaluate and purchase services such as hotel stays, energy plans, mobile services and even health insurance. But in the domain of services, it frequently becomes trickier. Ever tried to change your cellphone subscription service or change the date of your flight through an online platform? Chances are that it was not as easy as making the initial booking. Although there are some noticeable exceptions, the problem is that most services have not been fully automated… yet.

Additionally, the upcoming ‘self-service’ generation is used to getting the same levels of service in a professional environment as in their personal lives. How is it possible that you can change your Hotmail or Gmail password at home within twenty seconds, but that you need to call a helpdesk to do so in your work environment? Why can I download an app on my personal tablet in a matter of minutes and yet it takes two weeks for my company’s IT department to update my browser to the latest version? And why, and this is possibly the most important question, does nobody inform me of the status of my request in my company and do I have to chase it myself all the time? If my Amazon package is delayed, I receive a notification with the new estimated time of delivery. Why is it that I never receive similar updates or communication in my work! Is there really still a difference between consumer services and ‘professional’ services?

This book will give you deep insight into the theory and methods of Service Automation, the concept by which you can automate services in any organization. If you apply Service Automation successfully in your company, you will see both employee and customer satisfaction levels rise along with a significant increase in the number of people who ‘like’ your organization. This book is intended for anyone who has ever believed that the level of service in his or her organization could be increased and is looking for step-by-step guidance to achieve this goal. Whether you are an entrepreneur, executive, consultant or work in the field of academia, now is the time to systematically understand and address the concept of Service Automation.

This book is titled the Service Automation Framework® (SAF) because it provides the design elements and processes to systematically optimize user experience by delivering automated services. The SAF starts by studying the user experience of user groups to understand the requirements for different user actions and subsequently designs a service solution that satisfies these requirements through user interfaces. The framework provides a step-by-step approach, including a number of processes, that every organization can use to ‘digitize’ their service offering. As with any model, it is a simplified version of actual reality, but acts as a framework that structures the mind and provides uniform terminology when discussing the contents with co-workers, customers and colleagues. By combining service design and processes in a uniform approach, we believe the Service Automation Framework provides a simple but powerful tool for any service organization or service provider. We encourage you to adapt and apply the framework in any way that you see fit in order to meet your (organization’s) requirements.

As you have probably noticed, this book has a different format than a typical management book. That is because we want to apply the concepts of Service Automation to the full extent in this publication, combining the theory from this book with the additional online resources. Following our philosophy of self-service, this approach means that you (as a reader) are given the option to choose what information is relevant for your benefit. As a good starting point, however, we encourage you to actively apply the Service Automation Framework techniques (such as the Service Automation Blueprint) in practice. After all, it is up to you to transform the knowledge presented in this book into actual results.

An online self-service portal ( therefore complements this book. This consists of all the visuals and workshop models that you need to get started immediately. Needless to say, it automatically deploys, delivers automated services and surprises you periodically (as you will read in subsequent chapters). We tried to put together a practical guide that will save you hours of work and expensive consultants. Remember that ultimately, this book can also be considered a ‘knowledge service’ and it intends to exceed your expectations continuously. Similar to other services you use daily, the Service Automation Framework is all about creating value for users. It is all about creating value for you.

Completing the book frequently felt like the Road to Ithaka – the poem on the opening page – a journey full of new discoveries and an exceptional learning experience. We hope you enjoy using the Service Automation Framework as much as we enjoyed creating it.


This book is the result of over 18 months of research, dozens of conversations with industry experts and a rigorous review process by friends, colleagues and our publisher. Since no previous publications exist that are dedicated to the topic of Service Automation, we consider this book a first introduction to the Service Automation Framework, with two main objectives:
1) To introduce the Service Automation Framework as a practical step-by-step approach through which organizations can start delivering automated services;
2) To provide some fundamental terminology and concepts that are used in
the Service Automation Framework in order to pass the Service Automation Foundation exam (SAF Foundation).

Similar to other best practices and standards in the world, we have composed an examination (Service Automation Foundation) that practitioners can take in order to expand their knowledge and prove their individual competency. The next section briefly outlines the details of the examination.

As Service Automation is a relatively new domain of expertise, we have had extensive discussions about the intended target audience of the Service Automation Framework. Since the decision to start offering automated services is primarily concerned with the execution of a digital strategy, we have therefore aimed this introduction of the Service Automation Framework to business and technology leaders. The target audience of the Service Automation Framework therefore includes:
■ Service strategists;
■ Process consultants;
■ Business consultants;
■ Strategy consultants;
■ Service delivery managers;
■ Service designers;
■ Enterprise architects;
■ Operations managers;
■ Service managers;
■ Developers;
■ Business analysts.

As stated in the introduction, the aim of the Service Automation Framework is to ‘digitize’ the service offering of service providers to scalable and technologyoriented solutions. We therefore believe that this publication can equally provide guidance to existing service conglomerates, looking to deliver their services in new ways, as well as to start-up companies who are searching for the next disruptive innovation.


In order to ensure consistency across the world in applying and using the concepts of Service Automation, we have devised a certification scheme that is equally applicable across the world. The Service Automation Framework exam provides proof of a uniform understanding of the fundamental terms that are used in Service Automation. This book provides all the information necessary to pass the Service Automation Framework exam(s) as distributed by APMG-International ( As you might expect from an exam program about Service Automation, the exam is a digital service that is provided through an online selfservice portal. Since the administering of examinations requires specialized security and authentication methods, this service is provided by a third party (APMG International), which can be accessed through the Service Automation Framework website (

More information about the examination is included in section 4.

Jan-Willem Middelburg

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