Service with a Smile

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Would you pay for something that you can’t take home with you? Something that even when have you really don’t? Something that is intangible but is perishable, i.e. if “it” doesn’t get sold within a certain period of time, it disappears?

If the question sounds funny, think again. When you fly from Chennai to Bangalore, do you carry the seat back with you home even though you paid for it, you actually bought that seat, not rented it or leased it but actually bought a seat in the plane, Still at the end of the flight the seat isn’t yours to take home. Why? Because you didn’t buy a product here, you bought a service from the Airline to transport you. Now if in the flight there were 10 empty seats would the airline be able to hoard those up and sell the next time the plane flies? No. Once the flight took off without people seating on them, the seats perished.

Welcome to the crazy world of Service Industry. So why should you even be bothered to know about anything like this, you ask. Well, 50% of India’s GDP comes from the Service Industry today, so it perhaps makes some sense to understand what drives this engine.

Service has been defined as an act, performance, process or benefit that doesn’t result in the customer owning anything. By its very definition Service embeds a few inherent features that makes it different from Products. An example can explain this best.

Let say that on Sundays you go to the neighborhood hair-cutting saloon to get a relaxing head massage, while his is pounding away on your head, meditate a little upon a few key aspects of the service you are getting such as

Simultaneity – the masseur giving a head message needs to have the said head in his hands Heterogeneity – the message by two masseurs or even the same masseur at different times of day may feel different Intangibility – Barring from the feeling that you come out with, you really didn’t bring anything back with you (did you?) Non-Inventorablity – The masseur, if he...
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