A service is an "(intangible) act or use for which a consumer, firm, or government is willing
to pay." Examples include work done by barbers, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, banks, insurance companies, and so on.
A public service is any service intended to address specific needs pertaining to the aggregate members of a community. Public services are available to people within a government jurisdiction as provided directly through public sector agencies ...
s are those that society (nation state, fiscal union or region) as a whole pays for. Using
Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which are technologically accessible, economically feasible and culturally sustainable and help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can broadly be classified upon their ...
A skill is the learned ability to act with determined results with good execution often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. For example, in the domain of ...
, ingenuity, and experience, service providers benefit service consumers. Services may be defined as intangible acts or performances whereby the service provider provides value to the customer.
Services have three key characteristics:
Services are by definition intangible. They are not manufactured, transported or stocked.
One cannot store services for future use. They are produced and consumed simultaneously.
Services are perishable in two regards:
* Service-relevant resources, processes, and systems are assigned for service delivery during a specific period in time. If the service consumer does not request and consume the service during this period, the related resources may go unused. From the perspective of the service provider, this is a lost business opportunity if no other use for those resources is available. Examples: A hairdresser serves another client. An empty seat on an airplane cannot be filled after departure.
* When the service has been completely rendered to the consumer, this particular service irreversibly vanishes. Example: a passenger has been transported to the destination.
The service provider must deliver the service at the exact time of service consumption. The service is not manifested in a physical object that is independent of the provider. The service consumer is also inseparable from service delivery. Examples: The service consumer must sit in the hairdresser's chair, or in the airplane seat. Correspondingly, the hairdresser or the pilot must be in the shop or plane, respectively, to deliver the service.
Each service is unique. It can never be exactly repeated as the time, location, circumstances, conditions, current configurations and/or assigned resources are different for the next delivery, even if the same service is requested by the consumer. Many services are regarded as heterogeneous and are typically modified for each service-consumer or for each service-context.
Example: The taxi service which transports the service consumer from home to work is different from the taxi service which transports the same service consumer from work to home – another point in time, the other direction, possibly another route, probably another taxi-driver and cab. Another and more common term
for this is
Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences and statistics relating to the uniformity of a substance or organism. A material or image that is homogeneous is uniform in composition or character (i.e. color, shape, si ...
Mass generation and delivery of services must be mastered for a service provider to expand. This can be seen as a problem of service quality
. Both inputs and outputs to the processes involved providing services are highly variable, as are the relationships between these processes, making it difficult to maintain consistent service quality. Many services involve variable human activity, rather than a precisely determined process; exceptions include utilities
. The human factor is often the key success factor in service provision. Demand can vary by
A season is a division of the year based on changes in weather, ecology, and the number of daylight hours in a given region. On Earth, seasons are the result of the axial parallelism of Earth's tilted orbit around the Sun. In temperate and po ...
Time is the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, ...
of day, business cycle
, etc. Consistency is necessary to create enduring business relationships.
Any service can be clearly and completely, consistently and concisely specified by means of standard attributes that conform to the MECE principle
(Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive).
* Service consumer benefits – (set of) benefits that are triggerable, consumable and effectively utilizable for any authorized service consumer and that are rendered upon request. These benefits must be described in terms that are meaningful to consumers.
* Service-specific functional parameters – parameters that are essential to the respective service and that describe the important dimension(s) of the servicescape
, the service output or the service outcome, e.g. whether the passenger sits in an aisle or window seat.
* Service delivery point – the physical location and/or logical interface where the benefits of the service are rendered to the consumer. At this point the service delivery preparation can be assessed and delivery can be monitored and controlled.
* Service consumer count – the number of consumers that are enabled to consume a service.
* Service delivery readiness time – the moments when the service is available and all the specified service elements are available at the delivery point
* Service consumer support times – the moments when the support team ("service desk") is available. The service desk is the Single Point of Contact (SPoC) for service inquiries. At those times, the service desk can be reached via commonly available communication methods (phone, web, etc.)
* Service consumer support language – the language(s) spoken by the service desk.
* Service fulfillment target – the provider's promise to deliver the service, expressed as the ratio of the count of successful service deliveries to the count of service requests by a single consumer or consumer group over some time period.
* Service impairment duration – the maximum allowable interval between the first occurrence of a service impairment and the full resumption and completion of the service delivery.
* Service delivery duration – the maximum allowable period for effectively rendering all service benefits to the consumer.
* Service delivery unit – the scope/number of action(s) that constitute a delivered service. Serves as the reference object for the Service Delivering Price, for all service costs as well as for charging and billing.
* Service delivery price – the amount of money the customer pays to receive a service. Typically, the price includes a service access price that qualifies the consumer to request the service and a service consumption price for each delivered service.
The delivery of a service typically involves six factors:
* Service provider (workers and managers)
* Equipment used to provide the service (e.g. vehicles, cash registers, technical systems, computer systems)
* Physical facilities (e.g. buildings, parking, waiting rooms)
* Service consumer
* Other customers at the service delivery location
* Customer contact
The service encounter is defined as all activities involved in the service delivery process. Some service managers use the term "moment of truth" to indicate that point in a service encounter where interactions are most intense.
Many business theorists
view service provision as a performance or act (sometimes humorously referred to as ''dramalurgy'', perhaps in reference to dramaturgy
). The location of the service delivery is referred to as the
Stage or stages may refer to:
* Stage (theatre), a space for the performance of theatrical productions
* Theatre, a branch of the performing arts, often referred to as "the stage"
* ''The Stage'', a weekly British theatre newspaper
* S ...
and the objects that facilitate the service process are called props
. A script is a sequence of
Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English) is the range of actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or artificial entities in some environment. These systems can include other systems or organisms as wel ...
s followed by those involved, including the client(s). Some service
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has b ...
s are tightly scripted, others are more ad lib
. Role congruence occurs when each
An actor or actress is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is (), lit ...
follows a script that harmonizes with the
A role (also rôle or social role) is a set of connected behaviors, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualized by people in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behavior and may have a given indivi ...
s played by the other actors.
In some service industries, especially health care, dispute resolution and social services, a popular concept is the idea of the caseload, which refers to the total number of patients, clients, litigants, or claimants for which a given employee is responsible. Employees must balance the needs of each individual case against the needs of all other current cases as well as their own needs.
English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.
Principal elements of English law
Although the common law has, historically, ...
, if a service provider is induced to deliver services to a dishonest
client by a deception, this is an offence under the
Theft Act 1978
The Theft Act 1978 (c 31) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It supplemented the earlier deception offences contained in sections 15 and 16 of the Theft Act 1968 by reforming some aspects of those offences and adding new provis ...
Lovelock used the number of delivery sites (whether single or multiple) and the method of delivery to classify services in a 2 x 3 matrix. Then implications are that the convenience of receiving the service is the lowest when the customer has to come to the service and must use a single or specific outlet. Convenience increases (to a point) as the number of service points increase.
Service-commodity goods continuum
The distinction between a good and a service remains disputed. The perspective in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries focused on creation and possession of wealth. Classical economists contended that goods were objects of value over which ownership rights could be established and exchanged. Ownership implied tangible possession of an object that had been acquired through purchase, barter or gift from the producer or previous owner and was legally identifiable as the property of the current owner.
Adam Smith (baptized 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer in the thinking of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Seen by some as "The Father of Economics"——— ...
’s famous book, ''
The Wealth of Nations
''An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'', generally referred to by its shortened title ''The Wealth of Nations'', is the ''magnum opus'' of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1 ...
'', published in
* January 1 – American Revolutionary War – Burning of Norfolk: The town of Norfolk, Virginia is destroyed, by the combined actions of the British Royal Navy and occupying Patriot forces.
* Janua ...
, distinguished between the outputs of what he termed "productive" and "unproductive" labor. The former, he stated, produced goods that could be stored after production and subsequently exchanged for money or other items of value. The latter, however useful or necessary, created services that perished at the time of production and therefore did not contribute to wealth. Building on this theme, French economist Jean-Baptiste Say argued that production and consumption were inseparable in services, coining the term "immaterial products" to describe them.
In the modern day, Gustofsson & Johnson describe a continuum with pure service on one terminal point and pure commodity good
on the other.
[Anders Gustofsson and Michael D. Johnson, Competing in a Service Economy (San Francisco: Josey-Bass, 2003), p.7.]
fall between these two extremes. For example, a restaurant
provides a physical good (the
Food is any substance consumed by an organism for nutritional support. Food is usually of plant, animal, or fungal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is in ...
), but also provides services in the form of ambience, the setting and clearing of the table, etc. And although some utilities actually deliver physical goods — like water utilities that deliver water — utilities are usually treated as services.
The following is a list of service industries, grouped into sectors. Parenthetical notations indicate how specific occupations
An organization or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity—such as a company, an institution, or an association—comprising one or more people and having a particular purpose.
The word is derived fro ...
s can be regarded as service industries to the extent they provide an intangible service, as opposed to a tangible good.
* Business functions (that apply to all organizations in general)
A consultant (from la, consultare "to deliberate") is a professional (also known as ''expert'', ''specialist'', see variations of meaning below) who provides advice and other purposeful activities in an area of specialization.
Consulting servic ...
Customer service is the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services. Each industry requires different levels of customer service, but in the end, the idea of a well-performed service is that ...
Human resources (HR) is the set of people who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector, industry, or economy. A narrower concept is human capital, the knowledge and skills which the individuals command. Similar terms includ ...
administrators (providing services like ensuring that employees are paid accurately)
Cleaning is the process of removing unwanted substances, such as dirt, infectious agents, and other impurities, from an object or environment. Cleaning is often performed for aesthetic, hygienic, functional, environmental, or safety purposes. ...
repair and maintenance
The technical meaning of maintenance involves functional checks, servicing, repairing or replacing of necessary devices, equipment, machinery, building infrastructure, and supporting utilities in industrial, business, and residential installa ...
A janitor (American English, Scottish English), also known as a custodian, porter, cleanser, cleaner or caretaker, is a person who cleans and maintains buildings. In some cases, they will also carry out maintenance and security duties. A sim ...
s (who provide cleaning services)
A mechanic is an artisan, skilled tradesperson, or technician who uses tools to build, maintain, or repair machinery, especially cars.
Most mechanics specialize in a particular field, such as auto body mechanics, air conditioning and ...
Construction is a general term meaning the art and science to form objects, systems, or organizations,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary'' Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Oxford University Press 2009 and ...
Carpentry is a skilled trade and a craft in which the primary work performed is the cutting, shaping and installation of building materials during the construction of buildings, ships, timber bridges, concrete formwork, etc. Carpenters t ...
An electrician is a tradesperson specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, transmission lines, stationary machines, and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance ...
s (offering the service of making wiring work properly)
Plumbing is any system that conveys fluids for a wide range of applications. Plumbing uses pipes, valves, plumbing fixtures, tanks, and other apparatuses to convey fluids. Heating and cooling (HVAC), waste removal, and potable water deliver ...
* Death care
A coroner is a government or judicial official who is empowered to conduct or order an inquest into the manner or cause of death, and to investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person who has been found dead within the coroner's juri ...
s (who provide the service of identifying
A cadaver or corpse is a dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being. St ...
s and determining time and cause of death)
** Funeral home
s (who prepare corpses for public display, cremation or burial)
* Dispute resolution
and prevention services
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that resolves disputes outside the judiciary courts. The dispute will be decided by one or more persons (the 'arbitrators', 'arbiters' or ' arbitral tribunal'), which renders the ...
A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accord ...
Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been vari ...
(who perform the service of dispute resolution backed by the power of the
State may refer to:
Arts, entertainment, and media Literature
* ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State
* ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States
* '' Our ...
Diplomacy comprises spoken or written communication by representatives of states (such as leaders and diplomats) intended to influence events in the international system.Ronald Peter Barston, ''Modern diplomacy'', Pearson Education, 2006, p. 1 ...
Imprisonment is the restraint of a person's liberty, for any cause whatsoever, whether by authority of the government, or by a person acting without such authority. In the latter case it is " false imprisonment". Imprisonment does not necessar ...
(provides the service of keeping criminals out of society)
Law enforcement is the activity of some members of government who act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering, deterring, rehabilitating, or punishing people who violate the rules and norms governing that society. The term ...
(provides the service of identifying and apprehending criminals)
A lawyer is a person who practices law. The role of a lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions. A lawyer can be classified as an advocate, attorney, barrister, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, solicito ...
s (who perform the services of
Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions. Advocacy includes activities and publications to influence public policy, laws and budgets by using fact ...
and decisionmaking in many dispute resolution and prevention processes)
A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinc ...
(performs the service of protecting states in disputes with other states)
Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people or parties to reach the desired outcome regarding one or more issues of conflict. It is an interaction between entities who aspire to agree on matters of mutual interest. The agreement c ...
(not really a service unless someone is negotiating on behalf of another)
Education is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge or fostering skills and character traits. These aims may include the development of understanding, rationality, kindness, and honesty. V ...
(institutions offering the services of teaching and access to information)
A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (soft copies) materials, and may be a physical location or a vir ...
A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that cares for and displays a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Many public museums make these ...
A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is sometimes compulsor ...
Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousan ...
(when provided live or within a highly specialized facility)
Gambling (also known as betting or gaming) is the wagering of something of value ("the stakes") on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value, where instances of strategy are discounted. Gambling thus requires three ele ...
** Movie theatres
(providing the service of showing a
A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...
on a big screen)
** Performing arts productions
** Sexual services
Sport pertains to any form of competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain, or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectators. Sports can, ...
Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication medium for transmitting moving images and sound. The term can refer to a television set, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, ...
* Fabric care
Dry cleaning is any cleaning process for clothing and textiles using a solvent other than water.
Dry cleaning still involves liquid, but clothes are instead soaked in a water-free liquid solvent. Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), known ...
Laundry refers to the washing of clothing and other textiles, and, more broadly, their drying and ironing as well. Laundry has been part of history since humans began to wear clothes, so the methods by which different cultures have dealt with ...
Financial services are the economic services provided by the finance industry, which encompasses a broad range of businesses that manage money, including credit unions, banks, credit-card companies, insurance companies, accountancy companies, ...
A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates a demand deposit while simultaneously making loans. Lending activities can be directly performed by the bank or indirectly through capital markets.
s and building societies
(offering lending services and safekeeping of money and valuables)
Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more general ...
** Stock brokerages
Tax services A tax advisor or tax consultant is a person with advanced training and knowledge of tax law. The services of a tax advisor are usually retained in order to minimize taxation while remaining compliant with the law in complicated financial situations ...
The foodservice (US English) or catering (British English) industry includes the businesses, institutions, and companies which prepare meals outside the home. It includes restaurants, school and hospital cafeterias, catering operations, and many ...
Health care or healthcare is the improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, amelioration or cure of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in people. Health care is delivered by health pr ...
(all health care professions provide services)
The hospitality industry is a broad category of fields within the service industry that includes lodging, food and drink service, event planning, theme parks, travel and tourism. It includes hotels, tourism agencies, restaurants and bars.
* Information services
In computing, a database is an organized collection of data stored and accessed electronically. Small databases can be stored on a file system, while large databases are hosted on computer clusters or cloud storage. The design of databases spa ...
Data processing is the collection and manipulation of digital data to produce meaningful information.
Data processing is a form of ''information processing'', which is the modification (processing) of information in any manner detectable by a ...
Interpreting is a translational activity in which one produces a first and final target-language output on the basis of a one-time exposure to an expression in a source language.
The most common two modes of interpreting are simultaneous inter ...
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. The English language draws a terminological distinction (which does not exist in every language) between ''transl ...
Logistics is generally the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. In a general business sense, logistics manages the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet the requirements of ...
Transport (in British English), or transportation (in American English), is the intentional movement of humans, animals, and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, land ( rail and road), water, cable, pipeline, ...
A warehouse is a building for storing goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial parks on the outskirts of cities, to ...
** Stock management
Packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of designing, evaluating, and producing packages. Packaging can be described as a c ...
Grooming (also called preening) is the art and practice of cleaning and maintaining parts of the body. It is a species-typical behavior.
Individual animals regularly clean themselves and put their fur, feathers or other skin co ...
** Body hair removal
A dental hygienist or oral hygienist is a licensed dental professional, registered with a dental association or regulatory body within their country of practice. Prior to completing clinical and written board examinations, registered dental hygien ...
A manicurist or nail technician is a person whose occupation is to style and shape a person's nails. This is achieved using a combination of decorating nails with coloured varnish, transfers, gems or glitter.
Basic treatments include manicures a ...
A public utility company (usually just utility) is an organization that maintains the infrastructure for a public service (often also providing a service using that infrastructure). Public utilities are subject to forms of public control and ...
Electric power is the rate at which electrical energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt, one joule per second. Standard prefixes apply to watts as with other SI units: thousands, millions and billions ...
Natural gas (also called fossil gas or simply gas) is a naturally occurring mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons consisting primarily of methane in addition to various smaller amounts of other higher alkanes. Low levels of trace gases like carbon di ...
Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire, radio, optical, or other electromagnetic systems. It has its origin in the desire of humans for communication over a distance greater than that f ...
Waste management or waste disposal includes the processes and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal.
This includes the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, together with monitorin ...
** Water industry
* Risk management
Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss in which, in exchange for a fee, a party agrees to compensate another party in the event of a certain loss, damage, or injury. It is a form of risk management, primarily used to hedge ...
Security" \n\n\nsecurity.txt is a proposed standard for websites' security information that is meant to allow security researchers to easily report security vulnerabilities. The standard prescribes a text file called \"security.txt\" in the well known locat ...
Social services are a range of public services intended to provide support and assistance towards particular groups, which commonly include the disadvantaged. They may be provided by individuals, private and independent organisations, or administ ...
Social work is an academic discipline and practice-based profession concerned with meeting the basic needs of individuals, families, groups, communities, and society as a whole to enhance their individual and collective well-being. Social work ...
Child care, otherwise known as day care, is the care and supervision of a child or multiple children at a time, whose ages range from two weeks of age to 18 years. Although most parents spend a significant amount of time caring for their child(r ...
Elderly care, or simply eldercare (also known in parts of the English-speaking world as aged care), serves the needs and requirements of senior citizens. It encompasses assisted living, adult daycare, long-term care, nursing homes (often called ...
List of countries by tertiary output
Below is a list of countries by service output at market exchange rates in nominal terms from 2018.
* As a service
* Good (economics)
* Intangible good
List of economics topics
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to economics:
Economics – analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It aims to explain how economies work and how economic agen ...
* Product (economics)
Services marketing is a specialized branch of marketing which emerged as a separate field of study in the early 1980s, following the recognition that the unique characteristics of services required different strategies compared with the marketi ...
* Universal basic services
* Athens University of Economics and Business: Introduction to Services Marketing
* Valerie Zeithaml, A. Parasumaran, Leonhard Berry (1990): '' SERVQUAL
* Sharon Dobson: Product and Services Strategy
* John Swearingen: Operations Management
* James A. Fitzsimmons, Mona J. Fitzsimmons: Service Management - Operations, Strategy, Information Technology
* Russell Wolak, Stavros Kalafatis, Patricia Harris: An Investigation Into Four Characteristics of Services
* Sheelagh Matear, Brendan Gray, Tony Garrett, Ken Deans: Moderating Effects of Service Characteristics on the Sources of Competitive Advantage - Positional Advantage Relationship
* Alan Pilkington
, Kah Hin Chai, "Research Themes, Concepts and Relationships: A study of International Journal of Service Industry Management (1990 to 2005)," International Journal of Service Industry Management, (2008) Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 83–110.