Business services are activities that benefit a company without producing a physical product. These activities include marketing, warehousing and inter- and intra-departmental communication. They can also help companies save money, increase productivity and improve the quality of their work. In short, business services are vital for businesses of all sizes and industries to succeed in today’s competitive landscape.
A wide range of industries make up the business services sector, which is one of the fastest growing segments of the European economy. Contributing 11% of EU GDP, it encompasses diverse activities ranging from technical services such as engineering and architecture to professional services such as legal services, employment services and facility management. As the global economy evolves, so do the demands on the business service sector. In order to compete effectively, businesses need to access specialized expertise and drive innovation, while also optimizing their operations, delivering value to customers and supporting strategic objectives.
Despite their varied nature, business services share certain characteristics:
1. Intangibility: As the name suggests, business services are not tangible and therefore cannot be seen or touched. They are experiences that are provided through interactions and expertise and are delivered to the customer in a way that is unique. In addition, the customer is often involved in the service delivery process, which can influence their satisfaction level.
2. Inseparability: The provider and the customer produce and consume business services simultaneously, which means that they are not separated in the production process. This is in contrast to goods, where the product is produced and then delivered to the consumer. In addition, it is not possible to stock business services in warehouses and to save them for later use. This is the primary difference between goods and services.
3. Involvement: Involvement is an important characteristic of business services. This is because the customer can play a role in the design and delivery of business services, which can impact their quality. This is also in contrast to goods, where the customer can only evaluate the quality of a product after its purchase.
4. Serviceability: A serviceable business service must be easily available to its customer. This can be achieved by making it easy to find, ordering and paying for the service, and by providing a variety of different levels of performance and features.
5. Offering: Business services can have more than one offering, but only one is required per service. This enables differentiation by criteria such as user business hours, responsiveness or impact costs due to degraded or lost service.
By identifying and defining their business services, companies can ensure that they are delivering the right experience to their customers and that they are enabling strategic objectives. This is a challenging task as existing methods for business service identification fail to fully recognize the multiple concerns that are inherent to the concept of business service. To address this challenge, we propose a new method assembled by situational method engineering that addresses these concerns and provides an improved approach to business service identification.