Posted by: Chris | February 26, 2010

Front-Line Employees Require a Strong Service Infrastructure

server1FLSE’s can only do so much on their own. Engagement, empowerment, proper placement, and employee buy-in are not enough to carry out every daily, revenue-tied process a business requires. Companies must also ensure that the back-end  of service provision is well-taken care of. (Otherwise, their back-ends may be in big trouble!) The back-end of service provision, or “service infrastructure” includes tools and processes utilized by service providing employees, and are common across a company and have a relatively static existence regardless the individuals who fill the service provision roles that utilize them. Despite the fact that these tools and processes are inhuman, they are absolutely essential to the execution of service provision.

“Service infrastructure” refers to tools such as point-of-sale systems (what we used to call “cash registers”), coupons and discounts, security apparatus, fitting rooms, menus, even tables and chairs in a restaurant and the music that plays overhead in department stores. It includes processes such as customer review and check-out or ordering, complaint management, customer greeting and logistics (i.e. seating and waiting lines), and product returns.

In a nutshell, service infrastructure includes tools and processes utilized by service providers to draw a customer into service interaction, to keep her there, interact with her while she’s in the process of the interaction, to send her on her way after the initial interaction, and to continue interaction beyond the sale itself. This infrastructure must be thought about, maintained, updated, and revised on a regular basis. Without proper back-end support, an otherwise strong service marketing campaign withers.

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