Service Quality

Topics: Marketing, Service, Customer service Pages: 9 (2917 words) Published: May 16, 2013
Service Quality
Definition of Service
Service is largely intangible and is normally experienced simultaneously with the occurrence of production and consumption. It is the interaction between the buyer and the seller that renders the service to customers (Groonroos, 1988). Kotler & Keller, (2006) defines service as any act or performance that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Services refers to “economic activities offered by one party to another, most commonly employing time-based performances to bring about desired results in recipients themselves or in objects or other assets for which purchasers have responsibility” Lovelock and wirtz (2007 p.15) cited in Nimako and Azumah, (2011). Some scholars however contend that service and services have different meanings (Solomon et al. 1985). Whilst “service” involves the whole organizations performance in providing the customer with a good experience, “services” implies something that can be offered to the customer. Needless to say, “services” definitions are outcome- related or directed at the value created since it is something of value delivered to a performance to meet customers’ needs Nimako & Azumah, (2011). In a typical banking firm, “services” may include specific services like: savings, current and loan account, money transfers, advisory services, electronic and SMS banking etc. Service products associated with technologies can reduce transaction cost, switching rates and encourage customers to create services outcomes on their own (Bitner et al., 2002). Services in this era of heightening competition can serve as a competitive advantage when associated with physical goods. The unique characteristics of services present several marketing challenges. This therefore requires that marketers must adopt appropriate strategies to deal with these challenges. Characteristics of Services

Services are distinguished from goods as they possess unique characteristics and thus are treated differently from physical goods. Fisk et al (1993) suggest four service characteristics i.e. Intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity and perishability; Intangibility

Services are activities performed by the provider, unlike physical goods they cannot be seen, tasted or felt, heard or smelt before they are consumed. Services cannot be stored or inventoried. They cannot be patented and readily displayed or communicated as compared to goods. Berry (1980) argues that even though the performance of most services is supported by tangibles, the essence of what is purchased is a performance. Thus, services are experienced when performed. Examples are making or receiving telephone calls, having a haircut and transacting business at a bank. In order to increase the tangibility of services marketers must emphasize on the benefits of the service rather than just describing the features. Marketers must also develop strong visual symbols and images for their firms. Inseparability

Inseparability is taken to reflect the simultaneous delivery and consumption of services. This means that services are typically produced and consumed simultaneously. In the case of physical goods, they are manufactured into products, distributed through multiple channels and consumed later. The service is a performance, in real time, in which the purchaser cooperates with the provider. Thomas (1978) contends that the degree of this involvement is dependent upon the extent to which the service is people based or equipment based. The implication here is that people based services tend to be less standardized than equipment based services or goods producing services. Company employees must know that they (physically) and their actions (attitudes) go into the perceived service quality of the customer. Management and employees must be trained (in terms of physical appearance and the right attitude formations) to behave appropriately. Heterogeneity

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