Service can be defined as any act or performance that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Its product may or may not be tied to a physical product (Kotler, 1997). This essay focuses on the service concept and its importance into this competitive market. It further explores the characteristics of service, and depending on their attributes how it will affect the service delivery process.
The discussion carries forward with, to offer an excellent service; an organization should consider service quality as the utmost priority and identifying & satisfying their needs. One of the fastest growing operations in today’s economy is the service industry. Consumers are looking for other people to do things for them. They are willing to pay companies to make their lives more enjoyable. Corporations have begun to realize this fact, and as a result, the service industry has not only grown in the UK, but it has also been expanding worldwide.
Demand has made the decision to globalize seem relatively simple. However, there many difficult decisions which must be made before globalization can actually begin. The central theme of marketing is to satisfying customers and all the aspects of company operations should be towards customer satisfaction (Barnes, 1989 cited in Quester ; Kelly, 1999). In order to identify the level of satisfaction provided by the organisation, a mystery shopping exercise was conducted on the basis of service concept to view if there is any difference.
In order to satisfy customers in any organization, it is best approach to adopt internal marketing concept because its ultimate goals are to get motivated and customer oriented personnel. (Stauss and Schulze, 1990 cited in Lings, 2004) in addition to this, it is generally accepted that satisfaction of employee needs enhances employee motivation and retention, and subsequently the higher the degree of employee satisfaction, the higher the possibility of achieving external satisfaction and retention. Motivated and customer conscious employees are essential but that not enough effort to satisfied external customers.
Its also need to have a planned effort using internal marketing-like approach to create coordinated and integrated culture among employees to implementation of corporate and functional strategies in order to deliver customer satisfaction (Ibid). However satisfaction is totally depend on understanding of expected service quality which is difference between consumer expectation of what they want and their perception what they get. To reduce the gap between expected service quality and consumer perception, it is ideal that each department operates like consumer-focused business (Finn et al, 1991).
Characteristics of Service: First of all, it is important to define what service quality means, because quality in service industry is different to quality in manufacturing. In manufacturing, quality means zero defects (Foley et al, 1997). Whereas in service industry, Cooper et al cited in Baum (2006, p. 84) distinguish ‘three characteristics which separate hospitality as service from manufactured goods’: intangibility, perishability and inseparability (Foley et al, 1997; Williams and Buswell, 2003). Goods are tangibles whereas services are intangibles (Williams and Buswell, 2003).
Intangibility means that the product cannot be displayed. Perishability signifies that the service which has not been sold is lost and inseparability ‘involves the simultaneous production and consumption of the service’ (Foley et al, 1997, p. 6; Williams and Buswell, 2003; Baum, 2006). The first characteristic of the Service is Intangibility. The word itself means intangible i. e. it cannot be touched, not a solid material. Service is often something one cannot touch or feel. (schemmner 1985). It may be associated with something physical workspace.
We touch everyday goods such as food, books, computer, mobile etc. however, service such as experience in a restaurant, a consultancy advice, educational experience are not be able to touched. Laroche, M. et. al (2003) said that the marketing literature suggests that product intangibility is associated with perceived risk and intangibility construct encompasses three dimensions.
Physically intangibility e. g. Brushing the teeth’s, Mental Intangibility e. g. The service done by a waiter in a restaurant, Generality e. g. A customer perceived goods, lighting, ambience etc. in a restaurant. The service performed by a waiter also involves how the food was being served, whether the waiter was interactive with the guests. All these factors determines the nature of intangibility of service. In the words to Laroche (2003) ‘intangible dominant’ increasingly seek to differentiate themselves on the basis of high quality and authentic service interaction for the increasing discerning customers. The customers rely on service provider’s reputation and trust and predict quality of service and making service choices.
By implying the determinants of Robert Johnston (2005), during intangibility service the employee should have attention to the customer, courtesy, employee’s knowledge about the product, helpfulness, cleanliness or tidiness, interest in customer’s opinion and feedback. The Example of intangibility if a hotel introduce new packages which is being sold on the basis of the location of the city, the greenery, beaches, ancient monuments, heritage buildings, complimentary dinner etc. the visitor trust the brochure before being able to experience the product.
The brochure act as an intangibility product, where customer thinks about the place ; the empathy, assurance and responsive of the organisation. The product is sold to the customer before he experiences it. Perishability of a product means they have limited time, after which they no longer exist and have no value. The perishable product cannot be stored for a longer period, when it is not used it creates lose to the service provider. Once the perishable product is lost it cannot be brought back. Perishable product could be any good, experience or service. The following Example would help n better understanding about the pershability service.
A hotel room is a perishable commodity. ‘The revenue of a room lost for a day is lost forever, it cannot come back’ (Kasavana, M. Brooks, R. , 1998). Incase a guest reserves a room in a hotel and if there are last minute cancellations, the prospect of filling vacancies is difficult. If the front office is unable to fill that empty room then the room might lead toward a perishable product and the hotel loses revenue for that particular room. It generally means lack in consistency, Variability is a product which is inconsistence and varies from time to time.
Standard operating procedures should be maintained and followed by every organization. The expectation of the customer may change each time he uses the service, so, it is difficult to reproduce exact product again. All the steps in service, performed by the same hotel and by the same staff are difficult to judge in different ways for different customers. The service provider should have professional, qualified and trained staff so that customer needs can be identified and satisfied. The Example would be in a restaurant, if a continuously dine for three days.
The experience in those three days will vary. First time, the guest may perceive the food quality better. Second time, food quality is lower but the staff is service is better and during third time, the ambience may be better in comparison with service. So, the customer experience in the restaurant varied in all the three days. Inseparability is the high level of face to or voice to voice interaction between the staff and the employee relating production and consumption within the service process. The process is described by carlzon(1987) in hyperbolic term as ‘moment of truth’.
The customer becomes a part of the service and the employee should identify his needs. The suitable Example would be in a hotel. When a guest arrives at the hotel without any prior reservation, goes to the front office counter for inquiring about a room. The employee should greet him and ask what type of room he wants, his estimated budget, the facility required during his stay. Both should communicate efficiently and the staff should look that guest is satisfied with the information. The guest should be satisfied with every individual he met and his total experience which will bring him back to same hotel in near future.
Complexity refers to consisting of many and different parts. It is hard to understand and it is complicated in nature where it is difficult to analyze it. Basically, one problem leads to another. It arises because of the emergency at work. (Planning holidays at two different locations). The suitable Example would be if a guest reserve a table in a restaurant for dinner, but when they arrives the restaurant is full and the table is not being reserved. It creates a complex situation for the restaurant staff. They should try to calm the guest and empower it by providing some complimentary dishes and drinks.