Services from an operations perspective

Service Operations Management: Improving Service Delivery” by Robert Johnston & Graham Clark was and continues to be one of the major influences on my thinking on planning, designing, building and delivering services to customers. While this textbook is written from an operations perspective, it takes a holistic and customer-centric view on delivering services. I worked intensively with the book’s second edition but only flicked through the fourth edition (which features Michael Shulver as an additional co-author).

The book is noteworthy to me as it discusses the service concept in significant detail. The notion of the service concept is often mentioned in service literature (academic and other), but rarely developed to any meaningful degree. Service Operations Management makes the service concept a cornerstone of its structure: I’m not aware of any other text that has as much to say on the topic.

The service concept is introduced as a “shared & defined view” of what the organisation does, marketing sells, operations delivers, and—perhaps most importantly—customers buy (Johnston, Clark & Shulver, 2012, p. 25).

Key elements of a service concepts are a brief organising idea, an overallsummary, and descriptions of the service results for the customer (experience & outcome), the service operation, and the value provided by the service (Johnston & Clark, 2005, p. 41). In order to explicitly distinguish the customers’ and providers’ perspectives, the fourth edition (p. 48) separately describes the service provided and the service received.


Johnston, R., Clark, G. & Shulver, M. (2012) Service operations management: improving service delivery. 4th ed., Pearson.

Johnston, R. & Clark, G. (2005) Service operations management: improving service delivery. 2nd ed., Pearson.



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