A first step in understanding the range of problems faced by service organisations involves clarifying exactly what elements comprise the service experience received by the consumer. The production/consumption characteristic of services means that customers can be exposed to many aspects of a service operation that can be kept hidden in manufacturing organisations. As Lovelock points out ‘many service operations are literally “factories in the field”, which customers enter when they need a service. Since the completed service is often consumed as it is produced, there may be direct contact between production (operations) and customers.’1 This often causes quality control problems for service managers. If, for example, the hairdresser realises half way through cutting the client’s hair that the style is not going to turn out as the client requested, there is very little that can be done to remedy the situation, that is, the experience cannot be quality controlled before the customer encounters it. This clearly contrasts with the manufacturing situation where the quality problem can be sorted out in the factory, before the product reaches the consumer.
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