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Distinctive Characteristics of Service Operations

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The topic for this week's discussion is the Distinctive Characteristics of Service Operations. Before we get to know the characteristics of services let us first attempt a definition of what services are. "Services are deeds, processes, and performances." Zeithaml.V, Bitner. M,(1996).According to (Gronroos,1990.), a service is an activity or a series of activities of more or less intangible nature that normally , but not necessarily , take place in interactions between customer and service employees. In all services the customer is the centre of attraction and attention. "When services are economic activities offered by one party to another, in exchange for their money, time and effort, customers expect to obtain value from their access to goods, labour, professional skills, facilities, networks and systems; but ownership is not normally taken by them for any of the physical elements involved" (Lovelock .C, Wright.L, 2007). Fitzsimmons.J (2010) qualifies service as "A time-perishable, intangible experience performed for a customer acting in the role of co-producer."Services of any kind play a vital role in the economy of any society which it cannot afford to ignore. When one goes into whatever definitions one might offer for services, they are found to be central to the economic activity in any society, which includes infrastructure services such as transportation and communication. Without these services no society can become industrialized or advanced. No society can do away with these service activities if they aim at an enhancement of life.

Service delivery is an interactive and dynamic process, between the customer and service employee, in which customer's motivation and enthusiasm and feedback provides the road to development and enhancement of services. Like goods manufactured in factories services also have intangibility, heterogeneity, simultaneity, and Perishability as their characteristics. Customer participation refers to the fact that the customer is more concerned with delivery of services than with the manufacture of the product. Suppose a customer goes to buy a car from the showroom he is not bothered or worried as to how the car is manufactured or assembled in a factory but he shows extraordinary interest in the finished product and the ambience in which it put on sale. He is in a way assisting the service delivery to go smooth by offering his valuable suggestions and ideas so that there is absolute rapport between him and the selling agent.

When the question of simultaneity is discussed it is understood that in manufacture of goods the time of production and time of consumption are different but in the services, depending upon the demands of the customer the service cannot be preplanned and has to be delivered then and there. This poses a lot of challenges for the service managers because of variety of customers they get. Next comes Perishability which, when referred to services, would mean that services cannot be preserved or stored in advance. When applied to the hospitality sector one can take example of running a restaurant



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