Business services are activities that benefit companies without supplying them with physical products. They include marketing, logistics (including travel and facilities services), waste handling, staffing services, shipping, administrative services, and many other functions that help keep businesses running efficiently. Nearly every company has need of these services. While the term “business service” is often associated with professional services, it can also refer to a number of other types of support, such as legal advice, technical assistance, and human resources management.
Unlike product businesses, which focus on creating goods that attract a desirable group of buyers, service firms must work harder to understand and anticipate customers’ needs and desires in order to offer attractive experiences. To succeed, they must design their services to achieve the desired outcomes through a wide range of possible touch points and deliver them at competitive prices.
Successful service businesses have a working plan that incorporates all four elements of service design. It is critical to have strong, centralized leadership in order to balance the competitive autonomy of individual service models with the collective value of shared services. Without this, revenue-generating line managers will overrule the shared services model, resulting in poor performance and possibly a loss of customer loyalty.
Another key challenge is building a strong foundation of customer relationships, particularly in an industry with high turnover rates. Employees in business-to-business services are more likely to change jobs frequently than employees in other industries, which can lead to gaps in knowledge and skills. Creating strong relationships with customers, however, can help mitigate these risks and improve long-term retention rates.
The third challenge is managing the complexity of service systems, which must be integrated and coordinated in a way that ensures the quality of all touch points. This requires the development of a strong, collaborative culture that emphasizes trust and accountability between team members, even in roles that involve little or no direct contact with customers. In addition, it is important to implement an effective performance management system, which can monitor employee metrics and promote a consistent approach across all departments.
A final challenge is ensuring the safety of workers in this highly stressful and fast-paced industry. This is especially important for employees in business-to-business services, where a significant percentage of workplace injuries and illnesses are caused by job-related stress.
To ensure the safety of their employees and avoid costly lawsuits, businesses should provide adequate training on safe work practices, establish clear policies, and conduct regular risk assessments. In addition, they should use technology to automate processes and facilitate communications between employees and customers. This can save time and money and reduce the potential for mistakes. It can also make it easier to monitor worker safety and compliance with company policies. In addition, it can reduce the cost of employee compensation claims, which are a major expense for business-to-business service providers. For example, using a scheduling app like Breezeworks can help track schedules and appointments, make it easy to record work details, and keep employees on the same page with their clients.