Business services are additional activities that help to keep a company operating without the need for producing a physical product. They support the primary activities of a business and include areas such as marketing, inter and intra-departmental communication and even office cleaning and maintenance. A common definition of these services refers to them as “support functions that are not directly related to the production or sale of goods.” These activities can also be referred to as intangible assets, because they cannot be physically touched and can only be experienced through interaction and knowledge.
These activities can be used by companies of all sizes and in a wide variety of industries. Generally speaking, the largest and most diverse group of business service providers is comprised of consulting firms that offer advice and recommendations on a wide range of topics. These services are often used to improve a company’s efficiency, productivity and profit margins. Some examples of these services are marketing research, strategic planning and training.
Almost every company uses one or more business services to operate effectively. These services can include warehousing, delivery and shipping, insurance, information technology, payroll, legal, human resources, accounting and other areas. In addition to these core business services, many companies now provide a number of additional and specialized types of business services. For example, many companies use cleaning and catering services to improve the environment in their workplaces. Others hire child care businesses to give their employees the opportunity to maintain a work/life balance while taking care of their children. Additionally, a growing number of companies have started using business consulting firms to create and implement new marketing strategies and advertising campaigns that increase return on investment and boost customer engagement.
In the past, most business services were provided by a company’s own in-house departments or contracted externally to third party providers. The increasing sophistication of technology and the emergence of the business process outsourcing industry has changed this model. Many companies now contract with third parties for a wide range of business services, including warehousing and distribution, payroll processing, travel agency services, accounting, staffing, waste management and security.
The complexities of the new model have challenged some businesses to adapt. Managers must now take a different approach to managing these new services, which requires a shift in perspective and understanding of the value customers place on a service. For instance, managers must think differently about what differentiates their service from the competition’s. This might include considering extended hours, friendly interaction or other factors that influence a customer’s choice of a service provider.
Another challenge of the business services industry is ensuring that the services offered meet the needs of customers in the current climate of increased cost pressures, tight margins and competitive pricing. This will require a high degree of transparency in contracts, clear communications and a commitment to continually improving services. Despite these challenges, there is still significant growth potential for the business services industry in both developed and emerging markets.