CHARACTERISTICS OF SERVICES
The services have unique characteristics which make them different from that of goods. The most common characteristics of services are:
Services are activities performed by the provider, unlike physical products they cannot be seen, tasted, felt, heard or smelt before they are consumed. Since, services are not tangibles, they do not have features that appeal to the customerâ€™s senses, their evaluation, unlike goods, is not possible before actual purchase and consumption. The marketer of service cannot rely on product-based clues that the buyer generally employs in alternative evaluation prior to purchase. So, as a result of this, the services are not known to the customer before they take them. The service provider has to follow certain things to improve the confidence of the client:
The provider can try to increase the tangibility of services. For example, by displaying a plastic or a clay model showing patients an expected state after a plastic surgery.
The provider can emphasize on the benefits of the service rather than just describing the features.
Not all the service product has similar intangibility. Some services are highly intangible, while the others are low i.e. the goods (or the tangible component) in the service product may vary from low to high.
For example: Teaching, Consulting, Legal advices are services which have almost nil tangible components; While restaurants, fast food centers, hotels and hospitals offer services in which their services are combined with product (tangible objective) , such as food in restaurants, or medicines in hospitals etc.
Services are typically produced and consumed simultaneously. Incase of physical goods, they are manufactured into products, distributed through multiple resellers, and consumed later. But, incase of services, it cannot be separated from the service provider. Thus, the service provider would become a part of a service.
For example: Taxi operator drives taxi, and the passenger uses it. The presence of taxi driver is essential to provide the service. The services cannot be produced now for consumption at a later stage / time. This produces a new dimension to service marketing. The physical presence of customer is essential in services. For example: to use the services of an airline, hotel, doctor, etc a customer must be physically present.
Inseparability of production and consumption increases the importance of the quality in services. Therefore, service marketers not only need to develop task-related, technical competence of service personnel , but also , require a great input of skilled personnel to improve their marketing and inter personal skills.
Services are deeds, performance or act whose consumption take place simultaneously; they tend to perish me the absence of consumption. Hence, services cannot be stored. The services go waste if they are not consumed simultaneously i.e. value of service exists at the point when it is required.
The perishable character of services adds to the service marketerâ€™s problems. The inability of service sector to regulate supply with the changes in demand; poses many quality management problems. Hence, service quality level deteriorates during peak hours in restaurants, banks, transportation etc. This is a challenge for a service marketer. Therefore, a marketer should effectively utilize the capacity without deteriorating the quality to meet the demand.
Services are highly variable, as they depend on the service provider, and where and when they are provided. Service marketers face a problem in standardizing their service, as it varies with experienced hand, customer, time and firm. Service buyers are aware of this variability. So, the service firms should make an effort to deliver high and consistent quality in their service; and this is attained by selecting good and qualified personnel for rendering the service.