Business services are activities that help a company operate but do not result in the production of a physical product. For example, an IT service might help a company optimize its systems and software to make them more efficient. Other examples of business services include training, warehousing, shipping and delivery, and consulting. The business services sector is an important part of most economies, making up a large portion of GDP in many countries.
Companies use business services to outsource labor that falls outside their area of expertise, such as a third-party logistics company to take care of shipping and fulfillment for online sales. They also hire these providers to complete tasks that would be cost-prohibitive in-house, such as cleaning and janitorial services. In addition, a company may also employ business services to offer specialized expertise, such as a consultant who provides advice on implementing lean manufacturing processes.
Unlike products, which can be stockpiled for future use, services must be delivered as needed. This makes them more expensive than goods. Also, since customers are involved in the delivery process, it can be difficult to control quality or consistency. For example, a customer who dithers while waiting for a fast-food order may slow down the service process for everyone behind him.
Service businesses are also more complex than product-oriented firms because they require greater attention to the needs and desires of their target market. This requires a different set of skills than designing a new product. For example, managers need to be able to predict how potential buyers will respond to their service offerings and then develop ways to meet those expectations.
Another challenge faced by business service firms is controlling operating costs, especially labor expenses. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, such as raising prices, increasing labor productivity or outsourcing operations to outside vendors. Ultimately, it is crucial for a firm to have a well-thought-out plan for moving forward.
A good strategy for developing a successful service business starts with understanding the four critical elements of service design. Developed as a core teaching module at Harvard Business School, these aspects are: the physical environment, customer interactions, employee competences and value creation. In order for a service business to be successful, it is essential that all of these elements work together rather than against each other. A successful service business must create a unique offering that is attractive to a specific group of customers and then deliver it consistently. This will ensure that the business remains competitive in its industry. Eventually, the company will build a loyal following and become a leader in its field. A well-known example of a successful business is Apple, which has been successful by delivering an exceptional user experience and innovative technology. Similarly, Amazon is successful by leveraging its data to provide an unparalleled selection of books and other merchandise. This has enabled them to dominate the e-commerce marketplace. The business services industry continues to grow, as the global economy becomes increasingly service-based.