A contract can be executed within minutes, or over days, months and years. It depends on the type of service and often on the level of commitment involved. Some service contracts are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, stretching over many years. Many contracts are customized, negotiated and specified between two or parties, as is the case with professional services and outsourcing. Others may last for a few seconds, involve small amounts of money, and the contract itself might be implicit or automatic.
Purchasing a ticket for a train ride includes implicit agreement on what the service will provide and at what cost. The ticket is the contract. Airline tickets are attached with conditions of carriage in fine print that rarely anyone reads, but it is all there, including a force majeure clause. Citizens and taxpayers sign up for many pure public services simply by virtue of identifying with a community, municipality, province or country. As a taxpayer, you don’t have to sign up to make use of the president, Parliament, or police, and yet they are services that operate on very large budgets.
Dialog and interaction happen within the timeframe of the service contract, commencing with engagement and concluding with fulfillment. The various elements of dialog and interaction may occur according to a timeline, scripted or unscripted. They may happen in series and in parallel, or even within a single transaction, especially when they are automatic or implicit, and involve machines and software. The engagement can be spontaneous or scheduled ahead of time; it can occur at specific intervals, periodic cycles, or as and when the need emerges. The nature of the service defines the clock speed or tempo. Each cycle may be instant, last for minutes, hours, days, or stretch over longer periods of time.
Regardless of how fast or how often, for capacity to properly interact with demand, the dialog and interaction between users and agents are critical. Users and agents conduct dialog and interaction through touch points and interfaces. Given the extraordinary expanse of the universe of services, touch points and interfaces exist in all kinds of forms, sizes, and shapes. Touchpoints and interfaces ensure alignment and fit. Alignment avoids unnecessary seek and search costs on both sides. Fit ensures solid and secure connections with a very low rate of error.
“A line is a dot that went for a walk” – Paul Klee