The challenges and tasks facing managers who work in each of the four different service categories just described are likely to vary to some extent. The classification of processes displayed earlier is central in understanding these differences and developing effective service strategies.

Not only does it offer insights into the nature of service benefits in each instance, but it also provides an understanding of the behavior that is required of customers. As suggested, here are also implications for designing the service delivery system, balancing demand and capacity, applying technology to service processes, and managing people as part of the service product.

Balancing Productivity and Quality Concerns

Managers need to recognize that operational processes, however important, are basically just a means to an end. The key is to understand the specific benefits that a service provides for its users. Many firms bundle together lots of different activities as part of their effort to provide good service.

But innovation in service delivery requires constant attention to the processes underlying delivery of the core product a bed for the night in the lodging industry, fast transportation of people in the airline industry, or cleaning and pressing clothes in the laundry industry.

New processes may allow service organizations to deliver the same (or improved) benefits to customers through distinctly different approaches. But firms need to be clear about their objectives and the implications for customers. Sometimes, adopting a new process improves productivity by cutting costs at the expense of service quality. In other instances, customers are delighted to encounter faster, simpler, and more convenient procedures.

So, operations managers need to beware of imposing new processes, in the name of efficiency, on customers who prefer the existing approach (particularly when the new approach replaces personal service by employees with automated procedures that require customers to do much of the work themselves).

By collaborating with marketing personnel, operations specialists will improve their chances of designing new processes that deliver the benefits desired by customers in user-friendly ways. Among other things, customers may need to be educated about the benefits of new procedures and how to use them.

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