There are four central tasks facing managers in the service industry:

* Managing quality
* Managing productivity
* Managing service staff
* Achieving differentiation

promotional items Reds TipsManaging service staff
The customer normally meets a wider spread of employees in the service sector. Each contact is a 'moment for truth,' so to speak in which it is decisively judged.

In goods firms, marketing focuses mostly on external factors but, in services, it is mostly internal. Unless management meets the needs of employees, the organisation will not have staff who buys into the mission statement.

The following are techniques to motivate employees:
1. Employee-of-the-month awards
2. Increase employees' visibility and proximity to customers by allowing them to see and hear how the customers respond to their work.
3. Training and indoctrination to instil a sense of pride in the employees.
4. Peer group control via commitment and team building to reinforce commitment.
5 Appropriate environments such as equipment and systems to be able to satisfy the customer.

Achieving differentiation
In achieving a differential advantage there are certain areas to take notice of:

Integrating marketing and operations
In services, managers are usually responsible for marketing and operations. Marketing thinking can often be forgotten by the problems of running a bank, hospital or a large IT company. Use time management systems to allocate time for marketing and operations and avoid trying to do both simultaneously.

Product differentiation
There is no tangible product to compare in services and judgment is therefore purely subjective. The areas to concentrate on when servicing a client should be:
The quality of service
Friendly and courteous
Be right the first time
Paperwork in order
Follow up and after-sales service

No patent protection
Service advantages are easy to copy and improve. The advantage is easy to erode and new entrants have few barriers to enter the market.
Keep your systems guarded and protect them as Microsoft does with their operating system. Keep how you operate your company confidential to your staff and management.

Control the customer interface
Consistent performance is difficult to achieve because of the unpredictable behaviour of the customer and employees. It is imperative to create systems so that the service is always consistent, like Macdonald's Big Mac. Once you have created an initial system it can be tweaked to conform to the ultimate service. Naturally, things change so the system must be able to change with time and circumstances.

Economies of scale in services can rarely be achieved since growth requires setting up small autonomous facilities. Be sure that all your figures are correct before branching out as any new venture can make or break you.

Services are hard to automate without driving down service quality. Remember quality rather than quantity is the overriding principle to sustainable growth and market share.

Innovation is one area that services can differentiate most widely. There is a downside - as with any new idea/invention there is a learning curve that the client needs to go through, but with adequate communication and user-friendly literature, it should not cause a problem.