The client assumes centre stage in managing the services encounter, both in terms of service expectations and
the service experience itself, aspects that in practice are complex to manage as they entail a human dimension
of subjectivity. The literature tends to adopt a more traditional recipe-based “scientific management” approach,
while in practice it would appear that a complex adaptive systems (CAS) approach may be more effective in
managing the services encounter. It is an approach that embodies a multidisciplinary systems perspective that
focuses not only on the on-stage encounters but also on the backstage support systems that play a key role in
ensuring client satisfaction.
The research consequently adopts a multi-disciplinary review of the literature relating to the management of
service encounters to gain an insight into the two contrasting approaches. An important finding that emerges
from the research is that the service encounter is emergent in nature and thus extremely complex to manage in
practice, while the back and front stage systemic integration and management appear to adopt a more
contemporary management approach.