Designing Service Processes

Service design is the process through which the various components of service like people, process, communication, infrastructure, and other associated physical components are organized in an effective way.

This arrangement helps in enhancing the quality of inputs involved and improving the interaction between the service providers and customers.

Methodologies involved in service design focuses on designing user- friendly services as per customer’s needs.

It also focuses on designing services that help the organization in gaining a competitive edge. Service design involves identifying the need for services and mapping them to obtain integrated services.

It also helps in crafting designs for service assets that are used in delivering services. Service design can be utilized in the new service creation process or in enhancing existing services.

This process helps to make the interface more customer-friendly, useful, and relevant to the viewpoint of the customers.

Besides these benefits, service design also helps in connecting the service provider, suppliers, and organization to their customers in a desirable way and developing brand affinity.

It improves the service experience of the customers and influences them to develop a good opinion about the service brand.

Service design also aids the organization to understand the needs of the market, the experiences of the customers, and design a more relevant service.

Elements of Service Design

Service design has the following elements:

1. Structural Elements: It involves components like delivery system, facility design, location, capacity planning, etc.

i. Delivery System: The delivery system of services is significantly different from that of products. In the case of services, they cannot be separated from the service provider. Therefore the delivery channel for service has to be short and easy.

ii. Facility Design: The service provider needs to be alert in the way the service has been designed especially in cases where the customer is also taking part in the service process.

Facility design comprises the physical environment in which the service is being given, the hygiene factors, and how flexible or rigid the service architecture has to be.

The physical environment or the servicescape needs to be understood carefully since it impacts the service a great deal.

For example, the infrastructure of cinema halls, restaurants, hospitals, beauty salons, spa centers, stores, etc.

iii. Location: A service is a Location-based service (LBS) is a type of information that can easily be availed through mobile devices these days.

It makes use of the geographical position of the mobile device in identifying routes from the location of the customer to the location of the service facility.

It has wide-ranging application sectors ranging from health, work issues, personal issues, entertainment, etc.

For example, location services help in locating the nearest bank or ATM from the customer’s current location.

iv. Capacity Planning: Capacity planning refers to the capacity that the organization requires to produce the necessary product or service as per the changing needs and demands of customers.

Capacity can also be defined as the maximum output that the organization can deliver in a given period of time. It can be explained as:

Capacity = (Number of Machines or Workers) x (Number of Shifts) x (Utilisation) x (Efficiency).

2. Managerial Elements: Service encounter, quality, managing capacity and demand, information, etc. comes under managerial elements,

i. Service Encounter: The service encounter generally starts after the application is submitted, an order is placed or the request for a reservation is made by the customer.

The interactions can be between customers and the service provider or can be between machines or computers.

In many high contact services example restaurants, hotels, hospitals, etc. the customers may also get engaged with the service process.

ii. Quality: The term quality is often very difficult to define since it depends a great deal on customer perception. The term quality is widely sought while evaluating standards; however, it does not have any specific definition.

iii. Managing Capacity and Demand: Lack of inventory is one of the major problems faced when analyzing the supply and demand for services.

In the case of manufacturing firms, it is possible to keep stock of inventory in advance for meeting the contingent future demands.

However, this is not possible in the case of service firms, as services cannot be kept as inventory. This is because, services are created and consumed simultaneously, and are also perishable in nature.

A train seat that is not sold expires. Similarly, an hour of a Doctor’s visit cannot be carried over to the next day. It is also not possible to transport service from one place to another. This is also one major difference with products.

iv. Information: Another managerial element in service design is information. Appropriate information regarding the customer help in establishing a loyal customer base that further benefits the organization by acting as a medium for word-of-mouth advertising. Sometimes, service firms use discounts and free service offers for attracting a huge customer base.

Tools for Designing Service Processes

There are many tools that help in designing a good service pro These are as follows:

1. Service Blueprinting: Service blueprinting is a customer-oriented technique that fosters innovation and improvement in the service process.

Service blueprinting is a customer-oriented technique that fosters innovation and improvement in the service process.

This includes elements like defining the customer target segment, the various processes that comprise the service, create a map of the various activities that are involved in the service process, identifying the various customer touchpoints that spearhead the service process.

Service blueprinting highlights the role of the customer and identifies the source of value in the service process.

It also helps in finding the various service failure points which can derail the service as well as opportunities for service improvement.

It aids in continuous evaluations of the service process and helps in identifying measures by which the service can be appraised. It also acts as a source of new service development.

2. Quality Function Deployment (QFD): QFD is a type of product development where the source is the Voice of the Customer (VOC) The VOC is used to identify service requirements, design specifications, configuration, and process control.

QFD is very structured where the needs of the customers understood and then converted into specific plans for producing the products or services for fulfilling these needs.

In fact, it is more of a planning technique than a quality technique where teamwork is directed towards customer satisfaction.

3. Servicescape: The concept of servicescape is developed by Booms and Bitner. This concept tries to give credence to the physical environment in which service is created.

The servicescape can be considered as a service landscape. This landscape may comprise external and internal components of services.

The external components involve landscape, design, and surrounding environment of service while the interior components involve the design of service area, ambiance, layout, temperature, etc.

Servicescape together with other tangible elements (like stationery, business cards, dress code, web pages, brochures, reports, and documents) form the Physical Evidence in the marketing of services.

In order to design the service process, the organization should consider the servicescape as it involves all those elements which are encountered by the customers on first look.

4. Back Office and Front Office Processes: Manufacturing and service firms differ in several ways. The main focus of the manufacturing firm is on the back office where all the operational activities related to production take place.

However, service firms mainly focus on the front office where interaction with the customers in regards to service offerings is undertaken.

Hence, the planning for front and back-office processes may also act as an important tool in designing the service processes.

5. Waiting Line Analysis: Waiting lines are very important in management because they help in the balancing of demand and supply.

In general, a waiting line occurs when there is a mismatch between the excess demand and the supply. Waiting strategies are thus used to resolve uncertain capacity issues.

Waiting line strategies or models use a set of mathematical formulas that are derived from the field of queuing theory.

There are different queuing models and strategies for different types of queuing problems.

However, this technique is very complex and difficult to understand. Hence, it is not very feasible in enhancing the service process.

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