Business services are the non-financial aspects of the economy that enable businesses to function. They include everything from a travel agency booking a business class flight to a graphic design firm producing logos, signs, packaging, publications or web graphics for a company. In many countries, business services are a significant part of the economy and make up a large percentage of jobs.
Business-to-business (B2B) services are those that companies outsource to other firms in order to save money, improve efficiency or reach new markets. They also can include value-added activities such as warehousing, shipping or providing other logistics functions for manufacturers. The booming economy and increased outsourcing has created a large market for B2B services in recent years. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated these trends as companies looked for innovative and affordable ways to outsource their business processes.
Workers in the service industry must be competent in their field and have excellent customer-facing skills, as they are directly involved in meeting a customer’s needs. These employees are often responsible for making a customer’s experience positive and memorable, which is especially important when dealing with customers who are experiencing a stressful situation.
Unlike product-based industries, which rely on a well-defined set of tools to determine success or failure, the world of business services is more dynamic. Nevertheless, there are four critical elements that successful service businesses must get right in order to thrive.
These critical service-related elements are:
The first component is the service provider’s understanding of the customer’s needs and expectations. For example, an architect’s understanding of his client’s vision influences the efficiency and quality of the design process. Likewise, a fast-food employee who understands the importance of serving customers quickly can ensure that everyone at the counter gets served in a timely manner.
Next, the service provider must create and maintain a system that allows the delivery of the service. For example, the supply chain system of a retailer enables it to stock and deliver products to consumers effectively. In addition, the information technology systems of a company provide the infrastructure to store, retrieve and distribute data. Without these systems, a company would not be able to operate efficiently.
Finally, the service provider must provide a level of service that exceeds the customer’s expectations. For example, a restaurant that exceeds a customer’s expectations with a meal will likely receive a recommendation from the customer to other potential customers. Similarly, an airline that exceeds a customer’s expectations by offering a smooth and comfortable flight will likely receive a recommendation from the customer.
While most people associate the service industry with a customer-facing role, it is also necessary for businesses to have the right support infrastructure in place. For example, a company can hire an accounting firm to keep track of its financial health. Similarly, it can hire tech support professionals to help troubleshoot issues with networks or computers. A business can also hire a cleaning service to handle janitorial and maintenance tasks.