The Characteristics of Services
Services have key characteristics that separate them from goods. These characteristics include intangibility, inseparability, perishability, client relationship, customer effort, and uniformity, forming the distinguishing features of them from goods.
- Intangibility: This is the inability to touch, feel or smell services. While goods such as a car can be touched or felt, customers do not have such perceptions of service (Lehtinen & Järvinen, 2015). An airplane ticket, for instance, allows a traveler to move from one point to another, with the perception of the service entirely resting on the passenger.
- Inseparability: Separability refers to the separation of production and consumption. For a phone, its production and use are separable in time and distance, for services, however, the two are inseparable (Lehtinen & Järvinen, 2015). For a plane ticket, one buys it and gets on a plane. During the traveling process, the service is both produced and consumed at the same time.
- Perishability: This means that services cannot be stored for later use/sale as is the case of goods (Benoit, 2010). Therefore, it is impossible to claim airline seas not purchased.
- Client relationship: This refers to the relationship between the service and the customer (Benoit, 2010). The purchase of a service does not shift the ownership to the buyer. Therefore, in the instance of purchasing a plane ticket, the passenger cannot leave with the chair; he/she only pays for the use of the seat in the flight duration.
- Customer effort: This refers to the active participation of the customer in the service process (Lehtinen & Järvinen, 2015). It is possible to purchase goods even when far away and have them delivered. However, for a plane ticket, the passenger must be present on the plane to enjoy the service of traveling from one place to another.
- Uniformity: This is also referred to as variability and refers to the differences in the type of service received. Two similar cars usually have similar/standard features. For services, there will always be variability. Two cabin crews on a plane, for instance, will provide distinctly different services to the passengers, where while one may be helpful, the other may be discourteous.
Services are distinct from goods. Their nature as intangible items makes it impossible for standardization, despite efforts. Such characteristics make services invariably different from goods.
Benoit, S. (2010). Characteristics of services – a new approach uncovers their value. Journal of Service Marketing, 24(5), 359-368.
Lehtinen, U. & Järvinen, R. (2015). The role of service characteristics in service innovations. NJB, 64(3), 168-181.