Introduction to Service Marketing
The service sector is growing rapidly worldwide. Majority of developed and developing countries experience the development of many service industries, which participate significantly in the national economies.
P. Kotler suggested that ”service is an activity or benefit that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product”.
There are four characteristics of service: Intangibility, Inseparability, Variability, and Perishability (Kotler and Keller, 2007).
- As service's nature is intangibility, therefore manufacturing and service delivery is more complex than a product.
- Inseparability is a significant characteristic that distinguishes a service from a product according to the simultaneous production and consumption.
- Due to the service's variability, it's difficult to be controlled, because it greatly relies on the service's provider, moreover when, where and how it's provided.
- Perishability is one of the major characteristics of service, that it can't be stored for later use or sale (No inventory).
In order to deliver the overall service offer to a target market, the marketing mix elements should be coherent, coordinated, integrated and consistent with each other to produce the synergistic effect of them. (Lovelock, 2001).
The main objective of service marketers is to create and provide service that satisfies consumer needs and expectations, therefore achieving organizational goals. Consequently, marketers should work on understanding how people make their buying decisions and what determines their satisfaction during the service consumption stages: pre-purchase, service encounter, and post-encounter.
To gain a competitive advantage in the global market, successful organization should adopt the marketing strategy (overall cost leadership / differentiation / focus) that is based on the marketing concept which holds that the key to achieving company’s organizational goals is being more effective than competitors in creating, delivering, and communicating superior customer value to target customers, and therefore ensuring profits through customer satisfaction.
The positioning of services is even more important than the positioning of goods because services tend to be intangible, so differentiation becomes a key issue in making the service distinctive in the perception of the customer's mind. Positioning is concerned with the identification, development, and communication of the attributes which a service company intends to use to make its market offering recognizable and superior to the competing services.
A customer-focused organization requires improving service quality as a critical element of differentiation. It's related to the long-term evaluation of the service performance and is crucial to customer satisfaction which is the difference between perception and expectation, moreover, customer satisfaction will become a key factor for business success in the future.
In order to develop long-term relationships, it is necessary to build customer involvement, commitment, and trust. In service companies focused on building loyalty, customer service plays an important role in their marketing strategies and is an essential element in creating service quality and customer satisfaction.
An organization which strategy focuses on delivering service excellence was more successful. This era is the era of customers and for the success and survival in this competitive market, organizations should emphasize on quality service and this should be integrated into the strategy (Chowdhary and Prakash, 2007).
Author: Hend Hassan, lecturer at LIGS University
Kotler, P., and Keller (2007) A Framework for Marketing Management 3rd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Lovelock, C.H., Patterson, P.G. and R.H. Walker, (2001). “Services Marketing: An Asia-Pacific Perspective”, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, NSW.