The business services sector is an industry that involves a wide variety of businesses, and includes companies such as ADP, Allegis Group, ManpowerGroup, and Waste Management (all based in the US), along with Adecco (Switzerland), Randstad (the Netherlands) and TUI Group (Germany). The service sector provides many different kinds of support to businesses, including office administration, hiring and placing of personnel, security services, travel arrangement, cleaning and waste disposal.
The success of any service business depends on the way it meets the needs of a specific set of customers. This means that the four critical elements of service design must work together, or else a service company will be doomed to failure.
Getting these four elements to work well requires a fundamental shift in managerial thinking. Unlike product-oriented businesses, which focus on delivering characteristics that buyers will value, service companies need to understand that the primary customer base is not individual consumers, but rather corporations or organizations. They also need to take into account the importance of delivering a service experience that is a pleasant and effective complement to the product offerings they deliver.
Service businesses rarely have the luxury of stocking and storing products for future use, and so they must be able to provide a service that is delivered when it is demanded. This makes strategic management a very different challenge for them than it is for product-oriented businesses.
A key distinction between the two types of businesses is that in pure service businesses any transfer of a physical or concrete product, such as a written report, is incidental to the service. In product-oriented businesses, the sale of a physical or concrete product is the central part of the business model.
This distinction can make it difficult for service-oriented businesses to define their business in terms of a customer-driven strategy and to describe their operations in a way that makes sense to outsiders. It also constrains the way managers talk about their business and the approaches they take to managing it.
There are three main categories of service businesses: those that serve customers for a fee, those that help society or the public through charitable activities, and those that offer social and other types of non-profit services. These differences are important because they will influence the type of approach that a manager should adopt when planning and running a business.
Business-to-business services involve transactions between trade organizations, such as a wholesaler who sells tires to a car manufacturer and a retailer who buys supplies from a wholesaler. These transactions are typically facilitated through a business-to-business exchange platform, such as a Web site.
Maintenance services are another category of business-to-business services that help businesses maintain their property and equipment. This can include repairing, replacing and maintaining appliances, furniture and other items that are used to make a building or workplace more efficient.
Tech support and software services are other important business-to-business services that help companies solve technology problems, such as a malfunctioning computer or a network that is not connecting to the Internet. These services can help businesses solve these problems quickly, which allows them to remain productive while the problem is resolved.