A service can be defined as an activity required by one or more users who have agreed on the terms of outcomes and quality of service without details to how it is provided. A service is also, simply put, an act of help or assistance. In a more formal sense:
Services are activities that cause a transformation of the state of an entity (people, product, business, and region or nation) by mutually agreed terms between the service provider and the customer.
In the service-dominant logic (S-DL) for marketing, service is the application (through deeds, processes, and performances) of specialized operant resources (knowledge and skills) for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself.(Vargo and Akaka 2009)
In the field of Service Science, Management, and Engineering (SSME), the following is offered:
Services are processes, performances, or experiences that one person or organization does for the benefit of another – such as custom tailoring suit, cooking a dinner to order, driving a limousine, mounting a legal defense, setting a broken bone, teaching a class, or running a business’s information technology infrastructure and applications. In all cases, service involves deployment of knowledge, skills, and competences that one person or organization has for the benefit of another (Vargo and Lusch 2004), often done as a single, customized job. And in all cases, service requires substantial input from the customer or client (Sampson 2001) – how else could your steak be customized for you unless you tell your waiter how you want it prepared? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service_Science,_Management_and_Engineering)
- Services are economic activities offered by one party to another, most commonly employing time-based performances to bring about desired results in recipients themselves or in objects or other assets for which purchasers have responsibility. In exchange for their money, time, and effort, service customers expect to obtain value from access to goods, labor, professional skills, facilities, networks, and systems; but they do not normally take ownership of any of the physical elements involved. (Lovelock & Wirtz 2007)
- A service is a time-perishable, intangible experience performed for a customer acting in the role of a co-producer. (Fitzsimmons & Fitzsimmons 2007)
- The application of competences (knowledge, skills and resources) by one entity for the benefit of another entity in a non-coercive (mutually agreed and mutually beneficial) manner.
- Value co-creation interactions (typically with well-defined customer-provider entities as parties who initiate, directly or indirectly, front-stage and back-stage activities in anticipation of value results)
- An economic activity offered by one party to another, most commonly employing time-based performances to bring about desired transformation results in recipients themselves or in objects or other assets for which purchasers are responsible. In exchange for their money, time and effort, service customers expect to obtain value from the access to goods, labour, professional skills, facilities, networks and systems; but they do not normally take ownership of any of the physical elements involved. (IfM and IBM 2008)
Fitzsimmons & Fitzsimmons. 2007. Service Management: Operations, Strategy, Information Technology. McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0077228491.
IfM and IBM. 2008. "Succeeding through service innovation: A service perspective for education, research, business and government." University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing. Cambridge, UK, cited by Spohrer, J. and P. Maglio. 2010. "Service Science: Toward a Smarter Planet." In Introduction to Service Engineering. Ed. G Salvendy and W Karwowski. 3-30. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Lovelock & Wirtz. 2007. Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy. 7th Edition. Prentice Hall. ISBN: 978-0-13-610721-7.
Sampson, S.E. 2001. Understanding Service Businesses. New York, NY, USA: John Wiley.
Vargo, S. L. and Lusch, R. F. 2004. The Four Service Marketing Myths – Remnants of a Goods-Based Manufacturing Model. Journal of Service Research 6: 324-335.