Services are seldom valued properly, especially when it is provided as part of a product which is bought on a cost vs benefit basis.

Consider the technical advice provided by reviewers and shop assistants. Customers don’t value this – they will buy from the cheapest online retailer. Similarly, few clients will willingly pay for the technical support and education provided by web developers. Or the business consulting ideas provided by graphic designers in the course of projects.

A therapist/counsellor is potentially one of very few services that are valued in and of their own right. Prostitution is another. And perhaps also teaching.

I am not sure if doctors, dentists, and lawyers fall neatly into this. Would most people pay more for a “nicer” dentist? Or one with a great surgery? Or perhaps most people look at the relative cost of purchasing the dental “products” – like cleaning, fillings and crowns?

Similarly with design services, I know many clients shop for designers based on how much it will cost them to have x brochures, y web pages, and z logos. No one likes paying for ideas. But everyone appreciates them.

Want, but don't value? Or value when only it makes money? By which time we conveniently forget the source of the idea...

Is it innate in us to not want to pay for (ie not value) the intangible things like services?

I have come across a company who genuinely believed that they shouldn’t need to pay for design work that they have requested but subsequently decided not to use!

(Thought at the Innovation and Service Design conference, 29 Jan 2010, Malmö, Sweden.)