Any service business can be thought of as a system comprising
- service operations
- service delivery
- service marketing
Includes what goes on behind the scenes as well as in the presence of a customer in order to create and process the service. For example: ordering and billing procedures, communications, maintenance and cleaning.
It is the actual means by which the service is provided to the customer
in person, by machine or electronically.
Refers to, and embraces all the different ways in which customers learn about, form impressions and attitudes about a service organization – as a consequence of not only its marketing activities per se but, also, and importantly, its service operations and delivery – i.e. the process, people and physical evidence.
Parts of Service System
Parts of this service system are visible or apparent to a customer, and other parts are not – the distinction between ‘front-stage’ and ‘back-stage’. Furthermore, each element of the system involves different levels of customer contact.
Yet what goes on behind the scenes and which may involve no direct customer contact (a hotel’s housekeeping function, for example) may be no less crucial to how a service organization is perceived than activities performed in front of a customer and which may involve that customer in the process.
Service figures 2.1, 2.2, 2.3
Figure 2.1 in the text illustrates and distinguishes the visible/invisible components of a service system and the distinction between personnel and physical support in service delivery. It also highlights the incidence and possible significance of customer interaction.
Figures 2.2 and 2.3 depict the service marketing system for high and low-contact services respectively, and highlight various factors that influence customer perceptions, attitudes, and behaviour.
Table 2.2 categorises and summarises each of the principal tangible and communication elements to which customers might be exposed when patronising a service. This list can serve as a useful checklist to help an organisation identify the nature of the service marketing system for a particular type of customer using a given service.
It is important for marketers to understand service operations and delivery need to be planned and managed mindful of what is required in order for an organization to function smoothly and effectively, and also cost-efficiently, but also mindful of how these decisions will affect and influence customers.
This is to say that everything and everybody within a service organization, front-stage and back-stage, visible or invisible to a customer, has some bearing, directly or indirectly, on customers’ perceptions, attitudes and behavior and, therefore, becomes a marketing consideration.
Consequently, because of this overlap between operations and marketing, it is vital that managers on both sides understand each other’s perspectives and work together to ensure that customer service and satisfaction are suitably balanced against operational concerns with efficiency and cost control.