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Service Delivery

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Service delivery is an interactive and dynamic process, between the customer and service employee, in which customers motivation and enthusiasm and feedback provides the road to development and enhancement of services. Goods manufactured in factories services also have intangibility, heterogeneity, simultaneity, and perishability as their characteristics point of view is much more than a passive exchange of money for a particular service. Characteristics of services (e.g., intangibility, heterogeneity, simultaneity, and perishability) often require customers to be actively involved in helping to create the service value -- either by serving themselves (as in getting food in a buffet restaurant line or by pumping their own gas) or by cooperating and often working collaboratively with service personnel (as in settings such as hair salons, motels, universities, or lawyers' offices). In high-contact systems customers can influence the time of demand, the exact nature of the service, and the quality of service (Chase, 1978; Lovelock & Young, 1979). If consumers somehow become better customers -- that is, more knowledgeable, participative, or productive -- the quality of the service experience will likely be enhanced for the customer and the organization (Bowers, Martin & Luker, 1990). Organizations that capitalize on customers' active participation in organizational activities can gain competitive advantage through greater sales volume, enhanced operating efficiencies, positive word-of-mouth publicity, reduced marketing expenses, and enhanced customer loyalty (Lovelock & Young, 1979; Reichheld & Sasser, 1990; Vavra, 1992). Customers who actively participate in organizational activities can directly increase their personal satisfaction and perceptions of service quality (Bowers, Martin & Luker, 1990; Czepiel, 1990; Mills, Chase & Margulies, 1983; Solomon et al., 1985).

This view of customer participation requires organizations to broaden their perspectives of productive resources beyond their traditional boundaries to include customers as potential participants in, not merely recipients of, service delivery (Bettencourt, 1997; Lengnick-Hall, 1996; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2000; Schneider & Bowen, 1995). However, customers have considerable discretion regarding the effort put forth and the range of actions towards which their efforts are applied during service delivery (Bitner et al., 1997). For example, some customers decide to merely "show up," whereby their attendance is the extent of their participation. Other customers become more actively involved by, for example, providing useful information to the organization or to other customers. This is a more moderate level of participation. Finally, still other customers may decide to become co-producers of the service and actively help the firm do its work. In other words, some customers may become "partial employees" of the organization (Mills, Chase & Margulies, 1983) and, in turn, derive additional benefits from service as an outcome of interactive experiences in which they participate (Bateson, 1992). Ultimately, the level of



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