Originally, the concept of physical evidence related to the idea of using physical objects to make intangible services more tangible to users and customers. Examples included the folded toilet paper (or paper sleeve on the toilet seat) in a hotel room and the framed degree certificates in, say, a lawyer’s office. Such evidence was especially relevant in the context of credence services.
This concept has rightly expanded to include less physical examples of service evidence such as an order confirmation email or a badge certifying a website’s trustworthiness as assessed by this or that organization.
Increasingly I notice the term evidence being applied to all artefacts (physical or not) a service user is exposed to in a service context. This includes the entire servicescape as well as any (digital) content provided to the user.
Does this latter aspect not stretch the concept of service evidence too far? Are we not straying too far from its original purpose?
I acknowledge that all such artefacts can impact the service experience and thus should be selected and used in a considered manner. But would it not be useful to distinguish between artefacts (primarily) used for the purpose of evidencing and those that are not? If so, what should we call those non-evidence artefacts?
These are not rethoric questions…I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this. “Who cares?” and “Live with it!” might be useful answers if briefly explained.
2014-09-21: Tom Graves has written a brilliant post titled From Product To Service.