Managing Service Processes

The steps involved in creating service processes are as follows:

1. Flowcharting: Flowcharting is a very simple manner of depicting the various sequences that are involved in the service process.

It explains the entire service experience of the customer in a very simple manner. The sequence of expected customer encounters with the service industry is portrayed in this step.

Marketers need to understand that a value proposition that is off! to the customer may combine all or some of the intended benefits that the firm is providing to its target customers.

It is therefore essential to rationally integrate all service offerings so that the necessary value is delivered.

Flowcharting the process also helps the service marketer to understand those elements of the service process which are core to service experience and distinguish these parameters from those ingredients which are supporting the core product.

For example, in the case of restaurants, food and beverage can be regarded as core products. However, other facilities like reserving seats, a place for parking, menu, order placement, billing, etc. act as supplementary services supporting the core product.

When the flowchart for various services is drawn, it will be seen that the core services that are being offered would differ widely but the supporting services (billing, reservations, order taking, etc.) would retain a certain commonality and will keep repeating.

2. Service Blueprinting: In the case where the processes in offering services are complicated and involve high service encounters, it becomes significant for the organizations to gain insights about how the various service components are linked to each other.

There are particularly three main elements of service blueprint:

  1. The functions that are involved in creating the service experience are identified. This includes the people who are responsible for creating the service.
  2. Sequence and time relationship is represented graphically. This means the time when the service has to be performed and the order in which it has to be performed are also noted,
  3. The maximum deviation that is possible for each function is identified. This is that level of deviation which does not impact the quality of the service significantly and can be attributed to chance.

3. Identifying Fail Points: A successful blueprint should be able to identify the points in the service process which are the likely failure points or point at which the service can go wrong.

In terms of the customer, the most painful fail points would be those that prevent him from enjoying the service.

They include things like the reservation process (Is a table available) seating (can a place be found where the customer can sit), order placing (did the order placed at the table was accurate or the order taken was not noted wrongly by the waiter), etc.

The service delivered to the customer takes some time; hence, there are also chances of delay. Inordinate amounts of waiting time can end up annoying the customer.

In reality, every step in the service process – back end or front end can be a potential fail point. These failures increase the service and waiting time for the customer and can be a cause for major service dissatisfaction.

4. Failure Proofing: Once the potential failure points are identified the organization needs to do a root cause analysis about why such failures happen.

This equips the service provider with opportunities for making the service “failure proof’. One technique that is widely used in this regard is the Poka-Yoke technique.

5. Setting Service Target: The service managers can gain an understanding of the expectations of the customer from the service process through formal research and by tracking the job experiences of the service personnel.

The customer expectations are typically in the form of a spectrum referred to as a zone of tolerance. There is an ideal service and then there are thresholds that are defined for every aspect of the service.

The service manager should set appropriate standards and make every effort to satisfy the customers. In case this is not possible then the service managers need to modify the expectations of the customer.

The various standards can include the time taken to perform a service, the definition of a technically exact performance, and also the various style features that should accompany the service.

6. Redesigning Service Process: The service redesign process is meant to stimulate new life in the service process which may have become outdated in the current scenario.

However, this does not mean that there was a flaw in the initial process design. It is more likely that there may have been changes in other variables like technology, customer demographics, the introduction of new features, trends, and performance in the market which may have put an excessive burden on the old process.

Redesigning is considered a feasible approach to the development and growth of services. It is far better than discarding the outdated services m order to infuse service innovations.

Service process redesign can be of the following types:

i. Eliminating non-value Adding Steps: There are many activities in the service process that are not adding value to the service experience.

Service process redesign helps to identify such redundant activities and remove them. This helps the organization to increase its productivity and also customer satisfaction.

ii. Self-Service: Another approach is to make the customer adopt a productive role rather than a passive consumer of the services.

The redesign, in this ease, will aim at increasing the control of the customer, accessibility, and better timing. Self-service kiosks or Internet services like Internet banking are some examples of self-service.

iii. Direct Service: Indirect service, the service is brought to the customer and not the other way around. This means making the service available to the customers at their residence or office premises.

For example, home delivery services which are offered by many restaurants, pet grooming services, home tutorials, training, or home banking facilities are offered to HNIs.

iv. Pre-Service: This redesign aims at encouraging the part of service which activates the service request, typically the front end processes.

For example, express check-in at many hotels or prepayment of toll charges at the highways. Another example can be pre-check-in boarding cards that are issued by many airlines,

v. Bundled Service: Services can also be bundled together aHIH offered together. The customer gains by superior value especially if the services are synergistic in nature and deliver a greater value together than if they were consumed separately.

vi. Physical Service: In the physical redesign, the focus is on adding value to the customer’s experience through tangibles related to the service or its physical surrounding.

For example, Midway Express Airlines has tried to recreate the customer experience by altering the interior design of the planes. This included features like new leather seats, china plates, cloth napkins, etc.

7. Managing Customers Effectively: The service experience can also be augmented if the customers are treated as “partial employee”. This also has the benefit of decreasing customer induced service failures. The steps involved are the same as that which involves the selection of the paid employees by HR.

These are as follows:

i. Recruitment and Selection: Human Resource management becomes successful when adequate emphasis is given to the recruitment and selection process. This also applies to the “partial employees”.

For example, if co-production requires specific skills then the marketing efforts of the company should target those new customers who have the necessary skills.

ii) Job Analysis: A job analysis needs to be conducted for comparing the customer’s present role in the company against the roles that the company expects them to play.

One should also ensure that the customers are aware of the performance expected by them and they hold the required skills for reaching the expectations.

iii. Education and Training: The next critical aspect is that of education and training. This is particularly true if the job analysis throws up a major gap in the skill sets of customers.

Education can be given in several ways. The advertisement for new services often has great content. The company can also employ automated machines that have instructions on how the tasks can be performed effectively.

Websites also have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section which guides the customers on the critical aspects of the service.

For example, e-commerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart, E-bay, etc. provide detailed instruction guides to their customers regarding how to auction an item on the website and how to purchase and make payments.

iv. Motivate: Customers also need to be motivated by rewarding instances of good performance.

For example, delivering high-level customer satisfaction, enjoying the role as a participant, providing more customized services, etc. are some of the ways of motivating the customers.

v. Appraise: The performance of the customers needs to be evaluated on regular basis. When the performance is not satisfactory then the customers need to be educated properly.

vi. Ending: When the relationship between the service provider and the customer reaches a dead end then ending the same becomes the last resort.

For example, Doctors have a duty to treat patients but this is based on a relationship of mutual trust and respect.

Many times doctors encounter patients who are abusive and uncouth, dishonest – in these situations, doctors can ask the patient to seek the services of some other physician.

The process of terminating relationships has to be done properly. This may also mean that there are problems in the way the customers have been acquired or recruited in the first place.

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