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WHAT ARE E-SERVICES > WHAT ARE E-SERVICES - Pg. xix

xix E-services are delivered to consumers mainly over the Internet/Web, but also via other channels such as mobile devices and interactive TV. E-services range from traditional information and entertain- ment services to more sophisticated services such as financial, healthcare and government services. Other e-service examples include individually customized travel packages, business insurance policies, software-support agreements, training plans, legal contracts, financial investments plans or healthcare and health treatments (Kratochvil & Carson, 2005). Such sophisticated e-services require high level of customization in order to utilize their full benefits and enhance their usability. E-services are not only purely IT, web or infrastructure services; the e-service business model com- prises in addition the service product, service environment and service delivery (Rust & Kannan, 2002). The technology is, therefore, an enabler in e-service in order to meet the needs and wants of customers, and, thus, enable the growth of the market and revenue (Rust & Kannan, 2002). Kratochvil and Carson (2005) suggest that competition among companies lies in giving the customers exactly what they want, when they want it, but still profitably and at a price acceptable to the customers. This is where the flex- ibility of service customization comes to play. The e-service phenomenon was originally investigated by researchers like Rust and Kannan (2002), Stafford (2003), De Graaf and Muurling (2003) and Turban et al. (2002), who addressed issues such as the importance of a customer-focused approach and the quality aspect in e-services. Indeed, through e- services, organizations endeavor to improve customer satisfaction and retention. However, as e-services differ from industry to industry, the concept of service quality must be understood in different contexts. Factors such as the accessibility of the service and the interaction between the customer and the service