Skip to Main Content
What does differentiate service systems from traditional subjects of systems engineering such as manufacturing, and software? We address this issue by defining customer-intensive systems, based on ideas by Sampson (2001), and show how customer-intensive systems encompass almost all service systems. After proposing a new form of visualization for customer-intensive processes and discussing its merits and shortcomings, we argue how in customer-intensive systems the presence of human beings and organizations inside the production process radically modifies fundamental tenants of systems engineering. We then describe four fundamental changes in traditional science and engineering system methodologies to adapt them to the realities of customer-intensive systems. We conclude by arguing whether the complexity often observed in service systems is, in fact, a reflection of the complexity of human beings and organizations that are input to them.