Service provision is effectively a process by which a service is made available to someone or something, most commonly in real time with the customer present in the process. This suggests that we should evaluate service processes to determine if different types of processes result in different levels of customer involvement.
Distinguish between people, possession, mental stimulus and information processing
Table 2.1 in the text summarises four ways in which services can be classified with reference to what is being processed. These include:
- People processing (e.g. hairdressing, transportation, medical and dental services)
- Possession processing (e.g. laundry, cleaning, repairs and maintenance services)
- Mental stimulus processing (e.g. education, recreation and entertainment services)
- Information processing (g. research, legal and accounting services)
Marketers should be able to provide at least one instance of each, and then discuss managerial and marketing implications of each with reference to, for example:
- the respective degree of intangibility, perishability, inseparability, and variability/heterogeneity
- the degree of customer contact and involvement
- frontstage/back-stage distinctions
- the respective place of service provision, i.e. the service setting and physical evidence
- the respective role of service delivery personnel
- respective differences in the mix of core and supplementary services offered
- the relevance of flowcharting
- the concept of moments-of-truth
Managerial implications of this classification scheme lie in:
- Defining the service benefit in ways meaningful to the customer
- Managing customer involvement in the service ‘factory’ e. their encounters with service personnel and/or self-service equipment, the appearance and features of internal and external service facilities, and the behavior of other customers
- Designing alternative service delivery channels which may not necessarily require the customer’s physical presence (g. banking ATMs, telecommunications, and pick-up and delivery services), but the operations of which must function smoothly and reliably
- The facilities, appearance, and ambience of the service ‘factory’
- The level of customer contact required and how best to manage this most effectively
This article builds on the material of the first chapter by concentrating on two particular and distinctive features of services, and the marketing and management implications of these. They are.
(i) that service is a process or performance; and
(ii) customer involvement in the service production process.
An important theme in this chapter is that the nature and extent of dyadic service encounters vary widely according to the level of customer contact with the organization and its personnel.
Therefore to manage these encounters effectively and successfully, to provide a consistently high standard of service satisfactory to the needs and requirements of customers, it is necessary to understand where customers fit in a service organization, including how they relate to service personnel, physical facilities and other tangible elements of the operation.
An important distinction is made between services necessitating high customer contact as opposed to low customer contact, and service provision that is front-stage as opposed to back-stage.
It also presents three key components of service systems – operations, delivery, and marketing – and discusses the managerial and marketing implications of these. The concept and usefulness of flowcharting is explained, and the chapter concludes by considering managerial implications of service encounters