People, physical evidence and process are the three special elements of service marketing. Harnessing these special elements is vital part of the marketing strategy service businesses.
Let us start with people. The fact that people matter the utmost in service marketing does not need much elaboration. In the first place,
In services, quality depends on people. Actually the service customer rarely distinguishes or separates the service from the person who performs it. Second, services are also highly people intensive unlike physical products, which are material intensive. Third, while in the case of physical products, a bad product can be taken back or replaced, a bad service cannot be taken back or replaced. So it has to be performed right the first time and every time. This obviously means that people matter a great deal in service business.
Service marketers must obviously invest heavily in their people. By handling the human element appropriately, they can enhance service quality and customer satisfaction. Chiefly, three factors, viz., competence, behavior and attitude of the person providing the service determine service quality. Service marketers have to ensure that their people excel in these three respects. This, in turn, demands that the service marketers bestow close attention to three vital aspects, viz., selection, motivation and training of their personnel.
Selection of personnel: In the first place, service marketers must pay close attention to selection of personnel. They must lay down correct norms and procedures in this regard.
While selecting his people, a service marketer should place more emphasis on attitude than knowledge/intelligence. While knowledge can be imparted through training, attitude cannot be imparted in the same measure through training.
Motivation of personnel: Motivation is the second aspect. While it is true that in product and services businesses, employee motivation is the means for achieving customer satisfaction, in service businesses, customer satisfaction hinges directly and almost totally on employee motivation.
Actually, two aspects are involved here. First in a service situation, customer satisfaction is heavily dependent on employees. Secondly, practically every employee of the enterprise is involved in generating customer satisfaction. The task does not stop with the marketing staff, but extends to all those who are engaged in the production/delivery of the service, and in administration and support services. That is why it is often said that in service businesses, internal marketing is of crucial importance. Internal marketing is the route to all round employee motivation. The firm has to market tall employees, its objective and strategies, and secure their 100% commitment to the production and delivery of the service in the best possible way.
In the case of physical products, one can have a quality control department and exercise rigorous control on the quality of all ingredients, in-process items, bought out items, assembly line operations, processes, and end-products. But, in a service situation, there is no scope for a quality control department. Quality has to be controlled by motivating and training the employee who perform the service.
Often, in a service situation, the customer is present while the service is actually produced / delivered. Because of this, the surrounding in which the customer is actually served becomes important in a service situation. The surroundings constitute the physical evidence of the service. For example, the appearance/dÃ©cor and cleanliness of a restaurant influence customersâ€™ perception of the service .They constitute the physical evidence of the service .They are tangible and controllable aspects of the service. The service provider must effectively manage such physical evidence.
The arrangement by which the customer actually receives delivery of the service constitutes the process. For example, in a fast-food outlet, the service process comprises buying of coupon / token at the counter and picking up the items against them at the delivery desk. Service marketers must handle the process properly.
These three special elements of service marketing will come handy in differentiating a service.