Customers and service attributes

Customers and services attributes means that the following may be some of the ways in which customers think about the service attributes:

One overpowering attribute: For example: Dombivili to Mumbai VT fast local train should transport you in 55 minutes flat with just one stop at Kurla. The other attributes of the local train service carry little or no weight.

Single attribute with threshold minimums: For instance, Middle class non resident Indians visiting India from New York or London, availing of the cheap economy fares offered by one of the airlines of the Middle east region, which saves US $1,000 per trip per person, just have in one primary attribute under consideration: the cost of air transport i.e. the price of the ticket. The other attributes such as the comfort and the in-flight services are expected to meet just the threshold values.

Weighted average of attributes: In this case, all attributes are important enough. Some may be consider6ed a little more important than the others. So, a weighted average is what the customers evaluate regarding the goodness of the service. Since it is an average, a deficiency in one service attribute can be made up by more service on some other attribute. For instance, the lack of politeness in a restaurant can be made up the fast service or by the good taste and aroma of the food.

In order to design the service system, one should know what the customer expects and in which of the above three ways he/she evaluates the service product. All the operations decisions related to the service depend upon this assessment. These operations decisions address questions such as: What tasks to include? Where should the operations facility be located? What kind of products need to be prominently presented? What kind of products should be excluded? What type of manpower is necessary? What should be the training given to the staff? What should be the level of mechanization? Where should staff be deployed? What should be their tasks? How should the facility be designed? What should be the ‘people ambience’ of this service product? What should be the customer’s involvement in the services delivery?

For example, a department store which caters to the rich or super rich clientele should be very careful as to choice of its location. It has to be located in a posh, up market snobbish area. Exclusively is the main attributes needed along with threshold minimums of quality of goods, politeness and comfort. The products which should prominently figure would be the foreign goods or domestic goods which are clones of foreign goods, expensive items, exclusive brands and big names along with a dash of quirky, off beat items for the bold and the rich. Of course, even rich people need staple items and these should be carried by the store in adequate quantity but not displayed bluntly. The store should employ modern looking suave young women or men who would look equally stylish and snobbish while appearing to be polite. The pricing should be such that only the rich or super rich can afford the goods stocked there in. This way, the ambience of the store is controlled. What may appear like an anti thesis of service, the staff should be snobbish enough to discourage the other than rich people to use the Store. Thus to the selected customers the store may now offer various explicit services such as a welcome soft drink or soft tunes of piped in music, air conditioning, beautiful and courteous attendants and the like. It may even include a lounge where the customers can sit, socialize and be seen to have shopped at this exclusive store.

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