Service marketing is the promotion of commercial activities rendered by a business to its customers on daily basis in order to meet client demands. Service marketing activities may include the process of selling telecommunications, health treatment, financial, hospitality, car rental, air travel, and professional services, social work among others (Schofer, 2010). Service marketing is an important factor to be considered in any service company. This is because, during the provision of services, the encounters between customers to business and business to business leave a lasting impression on the individuals involved. In many instances, customers do report the services rendered as either
good, excellent, bad, or worst. Service encounters can enable the company to keep or lose customers depending on the quality of service provided. Therefore, superior customer service is needed in order to make the encounter memorable and to ensure that the customers come back to seek more services. Good or bad service encounters are reliant on service marketing and customer treatment (Schofer, 2010).
This papa paper is a discussion of service encounters, their theories, and how they affect business operations. The paper discusses the topic from a broad perspective and indicated in the discussion.
Many service marketing professionals believe that the service industry has gone through drastic growth over the years, so much so that its contribution to global GNP supersedes that of all other sectors put together (The World Bank 2004). However, a number of varying factors affect the service industry, they include social changes, government regulation, change in demand and supply, business trends, advances in technology, and internationalization (Hoffman et al 1995; Rust & Oliver, 1994). Within deregulated and competitive markets, differentiation strategies, including delivering quality services (Parasuraman et al 1988) are a primary concern of services marketers (Fisher 1991).
Research done by Schoefer (2010) states that quality and productivity are factors that need to be considered jointly in marketing services or any organization. Service marketing professionals categorize service quality dimensions into five major parts namely tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, competence, and courtesy (Cronin & Taylor 1992). They believe that the services rendered to customers should be substantial in nature. In as much as services cannot be quantified, as a customer, I like a service that realistic and very satisfactory (Jawardhena, Souchon, Farrel & 2013). On the other hand, the type of service encountered from any business must be reliable and the service providers must take responsibility in responding to any service that does not meet the customers’ needs.
The customer care and service providers must exhibit high levels of competence in providing services to their customers (Cronin & Taylor 1992). they must also show courtesy to customers in order to increase customer satisfaction. Service encounters have a lot to do with service products since these are the things that the customers come to look for in the business. Creating services involve designing core product, supplementary services and delivery process (Jawardhena, Souchon, Farrel & 2013). The peak of service encounters includes core products and two types of supplementary services facilitating and enhancing the services rendered. Facilitating services in marketing include information, order taking, billing, and payment. Enhancing services include consultation, hospitality, safekeeping, and exceptions
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In service marketing, it is usually important to use a model, theory, and concept that can boost services in a business as well as ensure that the customers have a pleasant encounter. This research found out that the GAP model is an effective tool to diagnose problems in service design and delivery (Cronin & Taylor 1992). The service gap is the most critical aspect of service encounter in service marketing and can only be closed if the other six gaps are closed. This term includes both soft and hard measures used to measure service quality. Efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness need to be distinguished when measuring service quality (Chumpitaz & Paparoidamis 2004).
Similarly, the service sector deals in service products which refers to the products that the customer is offered and that will be used to determine their level of encounters. Hence the service concept is represented by a core product, it is accompanied by supplementary or peripheral services which are services that help to differentiate through facilitating the use of core product (a service or a good) and enhancing the value and appeal of the core product (Cronin & Taylor 1992).
Research studies have continues to support the concept that within the service quality domain, the importance of customers’ view of service encounters is increasingly being held by many service providers in different organizations (Namasivayam & Hinkin, 2003). According to the view of Bitner et al (1994), it is clear that from the customer’s point of view, the most instantaneous proof of the high or low quality of service happens in the service encounter or the moment of truth”. This is the time when the customer meets with the firm employees who are in charge of customer care and client service (Mill 1986).
Thus, the main important goal in the pursuit of zero anomalies in service provision is to work toward a hundred percent flawless performance in service encounters (Westbrook & Peterson 1998). Consequently, the interaction between the customer and the service providers can become an essential part of the image that the customer creates about the firm and, in turn, will play an influential role in determining the success or failure of the business enterprise ( Bitner et al., 1990). As Hartline et al (2003) point out, clients use the foundation of their evaluations on their assessment and opinion of the service encounter based on their inter-personal nature of services.
It is important for service providers to note that most of the time, customers believe that service encounters are not random occurrences as they can be treated systematically within the business (Mattila & Enz 2002). The scope is thus high for management control over the success or failure of major service encounters. Similarly, the quality of the service encountered by clients in most businesses has been recognized as a key strategic competitive method that can be used for gainful purposes.
Past research studies on service encounters have almost single-handedly focused upon retail consumers’ view of service encounters (Kong & Mayo 1993). Indeed, service encounter quality in a business-to-business context tends to be both overlooked at the managerial level (Bitran & Lojo 1993) and under-researched academically (Brown et al 1994). This is surprising given the importance of contact personnel and the social/interpersonal aspects of the encounter in business-to-business services. Research done by Drennan & McColl-Kennedy (2003) shows that these two authors concur that professional services tend to be people-directed.
There are two different types of service encounters: the business-to-business service encounter and business or person-to-person service encounters (Hartline & Jones 1996). Business to business service encounters occurs when two service sector interact with each other in their daily business operations and negotiations. They normally meet while making purchases and supplies and production services between one another. It is considered important in the sense that business to business encounters enable one sector to maintain the other hence the lifelong operations therein (Czepiel, 1990).
On the other hand, person-to-person encounters occur between business owners and customers. This is considered the highest level of encounter that takes place within any business arena. It is believed to be so because many researchers believe that it takes the clients to maintain the business. Thus the business cannot prosper either can it continue its operation without people who come to buy or seek the services or products they offer. Hence the need to have effective and productive daily interactions between business personnel and their clients is paramount (Crosby et al 1990). Their main aim should be to ensure that all customers get the right amount of attention as well as receiving the services they seek in the most efficient way, thus there should exist excellent customer care in order to create customer satisfaction and customer value.
Surprenant and Solomon (1987) state that person-to-person encounters are an important element in the marketing of services within any given company. they continue to stress that the perceptions of clients regarding face-to-face interaction with sector employees have conventionally been thought of as one of the most important determinants for customer satisfaction and client loyalty (Liljander & Mattsson, 2002). Similarly, service quality has been found to be related to customer loyalty, arguably the bedrock of any business (Caruana 2002). The following sections thus provide a brief background of the service encounter, service quality, customer satisfaction, and loyalty constructs.
In my view, service encounters in most of the firms I have visited have always been based on nature and the way in which the employees treat me or other clients (Winsted 2000). If it a new business that I have never visited before, then the judgment will depend on how the clients ahead of me are handled. If the employees are polite, respectful, obedient and know their area of specialization, and can offer the right advice to customers, then such firm can be said to offer adequate and desirable services to its clients (Paulin et al 2000).
One important factor that employees should consider when aiming to create a lasting positive service is the art of communication (Durvasula et al 1999). Communication is a way of expressing oneself self when promoting a service of a company. it also has to with the way the employee passes the information to the customer as well as his or her body language (Gounaris, 2005). The major roles of communication in service marketing include positioning and differentiating services within an organization, promoting the contribution of employees and behind the scene activities, adding value through communication content, facilitating client participation in service production activities, and finally communication can either stimulate or slow down demand to match capacity (Gounaris, 2005).
In order to offer adequate service encounters for clients, the company must ensure that they effectively management services offered in the business. This is because process management in service provision is used to clarify delivery elements. It also shows how the nature of customer involvement with services in organizations varies by the type of service they seek to acquire. Process management makes it possible for employees to obtain and understand how service blueprinting can be used to design a service and promote a satisfying experience for clients in the firm (Liljander & Mattsson, 2002). Key components of the service blueprint include clarification of standards and procedures for each front-stage operation, presenting physical and other evidence for front-stage activities.
The act also involves availability and utilization of major customer actions, the definition of line of interaction relationship of front stage actions between customers and contact person as well as the creation of a line of visibility within the organization to enable clients to receive adequate service while the service providers meet their demands and maintain client loyalty (Liljander & Mattsson, 2002).
Building blueprint activities in the organization are important because it enables the management and stakeholders to identify major activities that employees will use for creating and delivering services to customers within the firm. It also enables the managers to outline the aims, goals, and objectives of service encounters before embarking on the real actions to be taken in the actual delivery stage (Drennan & McColl-Kennedy, 2003). Blueprinting in the service industry has Advantages such as differentiating between front stage and backstage activities of the firm. Service blueprint also makes it easy for management to specify the nature and extent of interactions between customers, staff, and support by backstage activities and systems in the organization (Drennan & McColl-Kennedy, 2003). It enables the firm to be able to Identify potential fail points that might consequently hinder adequate delivery of services to customers hence can potentially jeopardize service encounters within the firm. Bleu printing also makes it possible for managers to single out major stages in the process where customers commonly have to wait for services to be delivered to them. In a nutshell, service delivery leads to service encounters hence it should be taken seriously in an organization (Drennan & McColl-Kennedy, 2003).
Service Encounter Journal Entry #
|Name of Firm||Deby’s salon||Date of Encounter|
|Service Industry||Hair and make up||Time of Encounter|
What specific circumstances led to this encounter?
It was on a Wednesday afternoon at around 2:30 pm when I went to the salon after a long hard day at work. I went to the salon to have my hair fixed as usual. The only difference is that I was headed to a different salon, not the one I am used to. I expected the services to be better or much cheaper than the ones at my daily salon.
Describe the service encounter (e.g. what did the firm/employee say or do?)
How would you rate your level of satisfaction with this encounter?
|Extremely dissatisfied||Extremely satisfied|
What exactly made you feel this way?
What would you recommend the employee/firm could have done to make you more satisfied with the encounter?
How likely is it that you will go back to this service firm?
|Extremely unlikely||Extremely likely|