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I woke up at midnight from a nightmare, and knew first thing this morning that I had to write this post. The nightmare was caused by a service model I am participating in where I acquire the services of an expert.

Why would an expertise service model give me a nightmare? Let’s first look at the service models we are used to, and then I can show you where this one caused my severe reaction.

We are used to a subscription (utility) model, where we sign up and consume, and then monthly (or other time frames) we are billed for our consumption. If you do not use the service, you are still billed for a basic fee for connectivity.

The next more common model is one of retainer. I use the services of an expert when it is necessary (lawyer, consultant, accountant) and they bill me on billable hours, and I pay when service has been rendered.

I am currently consuming remote expertise with a different model, and this is the one that gave me bad dreams. I pay a monthly fee, and can (per week) ask for visual analysis for up to six events. I submit the events, and then the expert gives their opinion (usually within 24 hours) via a visual medium. But it is my responsibility to provide the data in the right format and form, and to take actions after the expertise. I am also responsible for the monthly payments, as no reminder is sent. This is a small, but lucrative, business where this service is one of the smaller services of the service provider.

Why does this give me bad dreams? Because I have been using the service for 7 months so far, and I always have to remember where I am with the service (what week, what events, what payment is still required) and my subconscious reminded me last night that I have two more weeks and need to get some more events to load. Guilt by taking full advantage of my payment, in other words.

I am seeing a shift from classical service models of subscription and retention to models where the consumer has to take a more active role in the service provisioning. These services are more complex and less mainstream, and cannot actively scale as the subscription model does.

Is service complexity really a growing phenomena? In my business, I see the opposite that more and more information is put in front of a paywall to tempt the potential client (kid, candy store) to enter and to see the level of expertise on offer.

Yet when I consume from other small businesses not in technology, I see increased service complexity and enhanced consumer participation.

What do you see in your business? Reach out to me here or via my Twitter feed (@afairch) and let me know.