Against the background of theoretical typologies of service standards, a survey among European service companies addressed the question, in which service-related categories formal and informal standards are implemented. Relying on the assessment of the importance of the various service-related standardisation aspects, it was possible to identify a taxonomy of service standards containing five clusters of service standards “Service Management”, “Service Employee”, “Service Delivery”, “Customer Interaction”, and “Data Flows and Security”, which correspond very closely to the ex ante applied typology derived from the literature. The analysis of the subsample of companies active in e-commerce reveals significant differences, which reflect their special needs caused by the distance to their customers.
In general, there is no broad literature on service standards and typologies. The most recent and differentiated approach to set up a typology of service standards was developed by De Vries (1999, 2001; see Table 1). According to his general definition, standards concern entities or relations between entities. Therefore, for a systematic approach to standards in the service sector, it is first necessary to define entities. Typical of services is the interaction between supplier and customer as the main entities. On the supply side, the organisation or the service company and service employees can be regarded as entities. Furthermore, both the service process and the service results can be considered as further entities, although often service process and result occur simultaneously. Finally, a distinction between delivery and final result has to be made. Based on these theoretical considerations, the following classification can be derived.