It’s easy to think of ‘service’ as being a one-off, discrete event. But of course many service experiences can take place over time and consist of a number events or processes – for instance in healthcare a patient may go through stages of diagnosis and treatment lasting weeks or even months. The same is true of customers who pay a subscription for a service and use it it intermittently. In these cases, we can think of service a being a ‘bundle’ of actions, processes and events.
An article in the forthcoming Journal of Operations Management reminded me of this concept. It also highlighted two aspects of ‘bundling’. First, service consumers’s experience of different processes or events in a service bundle may vary from being pleasurable to painful. Second, the sequence of these may affect the consumers’ assessment of the service, and hence their satisfaction, loyalty and intention to return.
To test this, the researchers measured season ticket repurchases at a performing arts venue. Annual subscriptions could be purchased, and hence renewed, at any time of the year. In simple terms what they found was that repurchase rates were higher after a highly successful production had been staged, and lower when audiences had been disappointed with a production. The implication of this is that operators who provide such service bundles should, where possible, try to manage the sequence of experiences in order to optimise the best outcomes for the consumer, and hence the organisation.