By almost every measure manufacturing quality has improved tremendously in the past decade; unfortunately, the same is not true for service. Yet, manufacturing processes represent less than 5 per cent of all business processes. Clearly, the opportunity area for the twenty‐first century is in the understanding and improvement of the service processes that drive value and customer experience. There are two major characteristics of service that distinguish it from product. The understanding of these differences and often‐painstaking attention to detail in delivery determines ultimate success and competitiveness of service. The first is that almost every service is a series of situations where every subsequent process depends on those that precede it. The second unique characteristic of service is that the customer usually plays an important role in the process and each involvement strongly influences downstream processes and requirements. The vast riches and opportunities of the future service‐oriented world belong to those who understand the customer experience from the customer’s viewpoint and can and will offer high value solutions.
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