What Is a Service System?

M. McGee
M. McGee
Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

A service system is a loosely-defined conglomeration of ideas, software and processes used to deliver services to customers. The term "service system" is used to describe nearly anything that pertains to performing a service. It can apply to concepts as disparate as automated phone systems that give credit card balances to hiring practices that allow full-service gas stations to have appropriate staffing. The most common usage of the term applies to the staff and computer systems that allow companies to communicate with end-users of products. While this definition is most common, it is simply one of many.

Originally, a service system was any system that allowed a novice user to perform advanced tasks quickly and efficiently. Early examples of these systems were often payroll and inventory tracking. These computer programs allowed workers with only a limited understanding of their jobs to accurately produce professional quality forms and invoices. It was assumed that these programs would form a crutch, allowing novices to learn on the job until they didn’t need the program’s help.

From this point, the definition began to split. The next major meaning behind a service system was in the service industry and non-producing companies. Companies that provided services to a wide range of people or in a wide range of industries were said to be part of a system. This applied to companies such as chain gas stations, repair companies and even laundromats. Stemming from this group, service-based companies, such as marketing firms or even lawyers, entered the service system.

At the same time, the basic definition began to apply to any corporate service that improved the productivity of the organization. This was eventually everything from changes in work shift rotation to in-house email servers. This meaning became so broad that it could literally be nearly any processes used by even a small number of employees.

The newest iteration of service system applies to corporate interaction with the public. This definition is basically the center point of all the previous versions. It is a method of allowing inexperienced workers to interact confidently, and it improves worker productivity and provides a tangible service to customers. This common ground definition allows the term to work in practically any way and still be nominally correct.

These service systems are often quality-of-life improvements for customers. They include automatic tech support and interactive services. These can be anything from company forums, to automated phone systems or online question-and-answer systems. When dealing with actual corporate agents, internal databases bring up support information and account profiles for the specific customer. This allows the worker to quickly understand exactly what is going on, even if he never spoke to the customer before that day.

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