Nature of Service Consumption

The stages of buying, using, and disposing of were developed with physical goods and were not directly transferable to the consumption of services. Hence, some characteristics have been pointed out to know about the service consumption:

1. Paying after Performance of Service: The term “buying” is less precise for services. For physical goods, “buying” means “the exchange of money for good.”

This exchange almost always occurs before the use of the good. However, with services, the payment of money for the service may typically precede (insurance, air travel, entertainment) or follow (hotels, utilities) the performance of the service.

Also, in many service consumption situations (e.g., governmental services), money never changes hands during the exchange.

Because of these problems, the word “choice” was used as a more accurate descriptor of the first stage of consumption than is “buying.”

2. Disposition is Minor: Disposition takes on a different meaning with services. This meaning can best be explained by considering the most essential and unique difference between services and physical goods.

A pure service would be perfectly intangible. Intangibility poses problems because disposition has commonly been conceptualized as getting rid of solid wastes.

Hence, for any pure service, disposition would not occur as there would be no physical (i.e., tangible) traces remaining.

Nevertheless, very few, if any, services can be labeled as pure services. Most services have some tangible, physical aspects which would require disposition.

The predominantly intangible nature of services, however, tends to make disposition a minor and non-salient aspect of the consumption of services. For this reason, disposition was given a minor place in the model.

3. Degree of Intangibility: The degree of intangibility is a valuable dimension for an evaluation perspective.

A high degree of intangibility for services suggests that consumer evaluations of services will be more personalized and dynamic than the evaluation of goods.

Evaluation of services may also require more cognitive involvement than goods because of intangibility.

4. Evaluation Occurs Simultaneously: Evaluative processes occur continuously in consumer behavior for services.

But evaluation becomes most salient (conscious) only at certain stages of consumer behavior. Evaluation stages depend upon alternative selection, choice, and use.

Each of these variables represents behavior. For services, because of their in-tangibility, each of these behaviors serves as a “triggering cue” for evaluative processes.

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