Layout Design for Services

The principles of designing layouts for manufacturing settings do apply for service setting also. However, there are other aspects of the service system that will influence its layout design. Therefore, the layout designer should factor in these also during the design process. Two important factors that influence the layout design problem of in a service organization are degree of customer contact and line of visibility.

Customer contact refers to the physical presence of the customer in the system. For example, in a restaurant, customers’ presence is confined to the dining area. The kitchen, back office and stores are areas that are outside the zones of physical presence of the customers. Similarly, in the case of a bank, front office, facilities such as cash and payment counters and locker facilities have a customer contact, whereas the record keeping rooms, network infrastructure facilities, strong rooms and other such facilities are outside scope of customer access. By degree of customer contact we mean the percentage of time the customer spends to get service. The notion of customer contact significantly influence service delivery and layout design .If the firms aim to high degree of service, then the customer convenience is of paramount importance and the firms may have to forego the efficiency aspect of design. Appropriate ambience comfort of using and extent of travel and the search required to get the service well done are key objective of design. On the other hand, if the design is with low customer contact, efficiency in utilizing the space as well as other resources could be pursued without seriously jeopardizing service efficiency.

One of the fallouts and operational implications of the degree of customer contacts the line of visibility available to the customer. As the degree of customer contact increase, the line of visibility also gets pushed back in the system. Therefore more and more aspects of business processes are exposed to customers, paving the way for multiple opportunities for jeopardizing service quality. Layout decisions are critical in such situations.

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