Managing the service encounter has implications for the place of service provision – i.e. where the encounter will take place, and how the service is to be provided.
The nature of contact between a customer and service organization can vary greatly. It can be characterized as one involving a high degree of involvement and interaction (such as a visit to a doctor, hairdresser or chiropodist),
To the other extreme where the duration of the encounter may be very brief and may involve little or no contact with service personnel (such as with bank ATMs, paying bills online or buying a ticket to the cinema).
In all cases, however, the nature of this interaction needs to be planned and managed from the customer’s perspective with the aim of ensuring that the customer’s experience is a favorable and satisfactory one that, in turn, reflects well on the service provider and makes the customer want to return.
Flowcharting provides a service organization with the means of managing and controlling individual parts of the service delivery system and identifying opportunities for improving or enhancing the efficiency and productivity of the system. Table 2.3 provides several useful guidelines for preparing a flowchart.
Finally, we discuss the concept and significance of moments-of-truth, critical incidents which arise in the course of a service encounter involving service personnel and customers, and which ultimately determine customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction with what is experienced. The link between services marketing and human resource management is clear and significant. With its own people as part of the product, no service business can afford to divorce its customer contact employees from the firm’s marketing strategy. Managers must ensure that employees know what the firm is trying to achieve in the marketplace, and that they are suitably oriented towards satisfying the needs of customers. This has profound recruitment, training and empowerment implications.
Explain and discuss the benefits of flowcharting
A: Flowcharting provides a service organization with the means of planning, managing, controlling and monitoring individual parts of the service operations and delivery systems, and identifying opportunities for improving or enhancing the efficiency and productivity of these systems.
Flowcharts can be prepared from a customer perspective as well. In this way a service provider will better understand the nature of the customer experience, what it is and what it should be, and what is likely to be necessary in order to process customers and/or their possessions through the service system to the customer’s satisfaction. Furthermore, customer-oriented flowcharts serve to identify potential ‘critical incidents’ which might be likely to warrant closer attention.