Edited by Victoria Wells and Gordon Foxall
Rodoula H. Tsiotsou and Jochen Wirtz 6.1 INTRODUCTION In its early stages, the service literature focused on the unique characteristics of services (e.g., intangibility, heterogeneity, inseparability, and perishability, also referred to as “IHIP”) and their impact on consumer behavior in this context (Shostack 1977; Zeithaml 1981; Wolak et al. 1998). Although there is much criticism about the uniqueness of these service characteristics, the process nature of services cannot be doubted. Grönroos (2000a) proposes that process is one of the main characteristics of services, in addition to simultaneous production and consumption and the customer’s participation in the service production process. The consumption of services has been characterized as “process consumption” (Grönroos 1998) because the production process is considered to form an element of service consumption and is not simply seen as the outcome of a production process, as is the case in the traditional marketing of physical goods. Services are produced in a process wherein consumers interact with the production resources of the service firm . . . the crucial part of the service process takes place in interaction with customers and their presence. What the customer consumes in a service context is therefore fundamentally different from what traditionally has been the focus of consumption in the context of physical goods. (Grönroos 2000b, p. 15) Thus, the research agenda gradually shifted from an output focus adapted from the goods literature to a focus on process. Several models incorporating various stages of the service consumption process have been proposed in the literature....
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