Let us first tackle the questions: What makes service marketing a specialty? What is so unique about service marketing? In this article we are also deliberating on various concepts, principles and techniques of marketing and their application in comparison to product marketing.
At the outset we affirm that all the concepts, principles and techniques of marketing apply equally to product and service marketing. Service marketers have to develop and offer services that meet the needs of the customers just as product marketers have to do. Also, service marketers have to score over their competitors just as product marketers have to do. Naturally, all basic principles of marketing should apply equally to product and service marketing.
We insist that service marketing should be practiced as a distinct specialty because immediately after services are rendered they are going to affect Customer or Consumer satisfaction. At the very first instance the consumer may repeat service orders from the same service provider or if not satisfied switchover to some other.
This is mainly because services are characterized by certain unique features, which, in their turn, have some unique implications in the matter of marketing.
Service is a Performance:
While products are produced, services are performed. In most cases, the latter are totally unconnected to any physical product.
Does not involve any Ownership Transfer:
Usually, a service does not result in the ownership of anything. In other words, unlike in product marketing, in service marketing, there is no title/ownership transfer. One can even say that nothing is purchased while a service is availed of; at best, what is purchased is just the use of, or access to, the facility/service. The buyer does not become the owner of anything.
Unique features of Services:
* A service is performance
* Services do not involve any ownership transfer.
* Inseparability /immediacy
* Perish ability- there are no inventories in a service.
* In a service, the consumer is a part of the production process and there is close interaction between the service provider and the consumer.
* In channel matters too, services differ significantly from products.
Unlike physical products, services are intangible; they cannot be seen, touched, or smelt. Also, the consumer cannot sample a service in advance. Accordingly, it becomes difficult for the consumer to judge a service before it is bought; he has no â€˜tangiblesâ€™ to go by for judging the service in advance. He cannot know its exact outcome in advance. Of course, it may not be correct to assume that all services are 100% intangible. But, it is certainly true that they are not tangible to the same degree as physical products are:
Inseparability is the next unique features of services. Some experts refer to it by the term â€˜immediacyâ€™. In fact, services are marked by two kinds of inseparability.
(i) Inseparability of production and consumption
(ii) Inseparability of the service from the person who possesses the skill and performs the service.
Services are produced and consumed simultaneously. This is not with physical products. The latter are manufactured at one point of time and location, and consumed at another point of time and location; they are stored somewhere and transported to places where customers are located. Services, on the contrary, are produced and consumed simultaneously at the same point of time and location. Second, services are also inseparable from their providers. The latter are an integral part of the services.
Variability / individuality / Heterogeneity:
Services are also marked by variability /individuality/ heterogeneity. This is so because of three reasons: First, the inseparability of the service from the provider leads to some variability; the provider of the service being inseparable from the service, variability automatically enters the picture, depending on the person performing the service. Second, services are highly people intensive. And, anything that is people intensive is bound to be marked by variability. Services are often categorized on the basis of the type of people who provide them like unskilled services, skilled services, and complete professional services. In the case of physical products, who produces the product is immaterial. Third, in services, the effect varies dependent on when and where the service is provided. As a combined result of the three factors, services are marked by a high degree of variability/individuality/ heterogeneity.