Services characteristics mean they must be marketed somewhat differently from other products. Attempts to summarize these implications for marketing. These are some of the major distinguishing or special characteristics of service products together with some of the major additionalmarketing issues and complexities which they give rise to. We emphasize that most of the other elements of effective marketing management and strategy, e.g. the need for effective segmentation and targeting, adequate market research and information systems, are no different for services than they are for physical products. In addition, both types of marketing are being impacted by the second major development in marketing thought and practice, namely, the growth of relationship marketing.
Service quality in services marketing: the SERVQUAL model
The importance of adequate levels of service quality, the notions of effective customer care and relationship marketing apply to all marketers and products whether physical or service products and markets. However, some of the special characteristics of service products mean that sometimes what constitutes service quality, the areas that are important in service quality and how to measure and evaluate levels of service quality can be more difficult than for the tangible physical product marketer.
For example, with a physical product it is relatively easy to objectively measure its functional performance. With an intangible service product, however, this can be more difficult. Recognizing this, several models have been proposed with regard to the criteria for assessing service quality and the sorts of data which would need to be collected and interpreted in order to make this assessment. One of the most influential of the models in this area is that developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry and referred to as the ‘SERVQUAL’ model. The main ideas and elements of this model are that it proposes that most customers take five main factors into account when assessing the quality of a service they have received. These five main factors are easily remembered by the initials RATER which respectively stand for:
In essence it represents the customer getting what they feel they have paid for. Needless to say any shortcomings by the service provider in this respect are likely to be major causes of customer dissatisfaction.
The more the service provider can see things from the customer’s point of view the better. We refer to this ability on the part of the service provider as ‘empathy’.
Service characteristics and implications for marketing
The SERVQUAL model provides a comprehensive framework for identifying what are key criteria from the customer’s perspective when evaluating and assessing the quality of services provision. In turn, it suggests the key areas where a service provider has to perform effectively. Finally, and related to these first two aspects, the SERVQUAL model guides the implementation of quality programmes for services marketers together with systems of evaluation and control. The SERVQUAL model stresses that a company has service quality problems where there is a gap between what consumers expect and what they perceive they receive with regard to services quality. There are possible bases for such gaps and therefore strategies for filling them:
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Marketing Management Tutorial
Development Of A Strategic Approach To Marketing: Its Culture; Internal Macro- And External Micro-environmental Issues
Markets And Customers: Consumer And Organizational Buyer Behaviour And Marketing Strategy
Markets And Customers: Market Boundaries; Target Marketing
Product And Innovation Strategies
Channels Of Distribution And Logistics
Customer Care And Relationship Marketing
Marketing Information Systems And Research
Analysing The Environment: (opportunities And Threats) And Appraising Resources (strengths And Weaknesses)
Evaluating And Controlling Strategic Marketing
Strategic Marketing Planning Tools
Services Marketing And Not-for-profit Marketing
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