Services Marketing

Services marketing has incurred an explosive amount of scholarly research in the last 20 years, however since 1986 there has been no debate concerning the notion that services are distinct from products, and thus deserve a special approach, a set of concepts and a body of knowledge (Brown, Fisk, & Bitner, 1994). This essay will explain the distinguishing features of services marketing, giving examples where possible. It will begin by defining services marketing and giving some background knowledge on its divergence from product marketing. It will then examine the four characteristics of services, and then finish with an explanation of the extra P’s found in the services marketing mix.

In the last century there has been a large shift in marketing thought; evolving from a goods-dominated view, in which tangible output and discrete transactions were the focus, to a service-dominant view, in which intangibility, exchange processes, and relationships are central (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). Vargo and Lusch define services as the application of specialized competences (knowledge and skills) through deeds, processes, and performances for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself. Four idiosyncratic features of services will now be given, highlighting why services marketing is different from basic product marketing.

Arguably the most distinguishing feature about services is their intangibility. Services are defined in (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006) as “deeds, processes, and performances”. None of these are physical objects in which a customer can take ownership of, even though during a service physical evidence will be apparent in the form of things like medicine the doctors prescribes to you, the photo taken of you riding the rollercoaster, or the food on your plate in a restaurant. This invisibility creates a number of issues for marketers. Firstly there is no stock, making it hard to manage supply and demand. Secondly services cannot be shown or displayed to customers, making it hard for marketers to advertise the quality of the service. And finally, because services don’t physically exist, there is difficulty in patenting them, making it easy for other firms to copy your service.

Another notable aspect about products is that on average they stay the same. If you buy a Ford Focus here in Australia, and then go and buy the same model in America, chances are they will both be exactly the same. Services are different in that they are heterogeneous, meaning they differ with each use. For example a wildlife tour will never be the same twice, not only because of the random and unpredictable nature of the animals, but the guide may be in a different mood, the weather will have changed, and there will be different customers each time. These factors make it harder to consistently give quality service, which is important to marketers because customers will have a particular set of expectations in mind, based primarily on what was promoted in the service and previous experiences in the particular industry.

Another distinguishable feature about services is the fact that it’s both produced and consumed at the same time, as opposed to products where customers do not see how the product is manufactured. A good metaphor for this is being at the theatre. Consumers can be compared to an audience, where they watch actors (employees) perform on stage (physical location like a business store) amongst props (physical objects like chairs, tables, pot plants etc). The actors are ‘live’ and performing (producing) at the same time as the audience are watching (consuming). This brings us to the concept of interactive marketing. In a service, operational staff carries out much of the marketing function (Klassen, Russel, & Chrisman, 1998), and marketers are left to the advertising and promotion.

The final distinction that differentiates services from products is their perishability. While some products perish very quickly (like water balloons), services simply cannot be stored, saved, resold or returned at all. Marketers main concern would be the procedure for when things do not go as planned. Customers cannot simply return the service and ask for another one; it is up to the service provider to offer the customer some kind of compensation. If passengers are forced to wait a long time for their flight, employees could provide free coffee and refreshments while they wait, in an attempt to make up for their failing service.

With product marketing the marketing mix includes the four P’s; product, price, place and promotion. Services use the same elements plus three more to help account for their unique nature.

Firstly there is people, which comprise of everyone that influences the buyer’s perceptions, including the buyer themselves. Customers have an active role in the production, and thus can influence the outcome of their own service or the service of others. For example a large family with screaming children interrupting a young couples romantic dinner at a restaurant.

Every person is important to the marketer, no matter how small their role may be. Consider an IT professional who installs computers in people’s homes. During that installation the buyer may form an opinion of the service provider as a whole based purely on that IT professionals performance. Sometimes a person is the sole service provider, for example a dentist or lawyer, making their performance and appearance critical to gaining a high perceived quality of service.

The sixth ‘P’ is physical evidence, which is the environment in which the service is delivered and where the firm and customer interact (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). It also includes any physical objects that assist in the delivery of the service. (Lehtinen & Lehtinen, 1991) define it as the environment and its instruments. With some services customers may find it hard to judge the quality of the service, especially with credence service’s like financial advisors or legal advice. It is crucial that marketing managers address consumer fears regarding risk that results before, during, and after consumption of credence services (Keh & Sun, 2008). Since the customer does not have the knowledge or experience to judge the actual service, they instead turn their attention to other things, including the physical evidence of service quality. This would usually come in the form of a professional looking workspace, however would change with each service provider. For example in a doctors surgery cleanliness would be expected.

Finally there is the service process, including the procedures, mechanisms and flow of activities by which the service is delivered (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). When purchasing a service, customers often have a set of expectations of the process of the service, and when these are not met, the perceived quality of service drops. For example in white water rafting a customer might be dissatisfied if, when they arrived, they were told they had to carry the raft to the top of the river first. The process is important because people participate in it, unlike products, where the process is behind doors.

Services represent at least 70% of the nation’s total GDP for at least 5 countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, making it a hot topic for not only marketers, but anyone competing in the business world. Services are distinguished from products by four characteristics; intangibility, they are heterogeneous, there is simultaneous production and consumption, and their perishability. Services marketing differs from product marketing from the fact that three extra P’s are added to the original marketing mix; people, physical evidence and process.

A website like yourtucsonveterinarian.com will provide you with the highest quality in the industry.

What Is A Blog Or What Does Blog Stand For

What is a blog or what does blog stand for are two questions that many internet users still often ask. Well, in short, a blog is basically an online journal whereby a blogger or a contributor to a blog, can digitally note their own thoughts, ideas, opinions and practically anything else that bloggers want people to read about.

Blogs are often called weblogs because after all they are a particular type of website, usually maintained and updated by an individual with regular entries of events, descriptions of situations, personal commentaries or other material such as graphic images or video. Entries are, more often than not, displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Blogs are fluid, interactive platforms for bloggers to get their message across to readers, as opposed to a more static website platform.

There are many resources available on the internet to provide you with blogging tips and information. For instance should you create your blog via a blogging platform such as blogger.com or buy your own domain and set up your blog via a platform such as WordPress. One important aspect of setting up your own blog is that it enables the blogger to create a bond with their readers and to be able to interact with them. It is a great way to make your own thoughts known to others, to pass on valuable information to interested readers, or to create a web presence for your business. The options are numerous.

To achieve this it is advisable for the blogger to include an “About Us” type page, where the blog owner can outline who they are and to disclose the purpose of the blog to their readers.

It goes without saying therefore that, in the main, the blogger needs to know the subject well enough to write regular blog posts. I say “in the main” because the flexibility of a blog will allow the blogger to write a post inviting their readers to comment on a subject that is not so well known by the blogger.

This approach will further enhance the bloggers bond with the readers and will provide more, fresh unique content to their blog.

As mentioned above, blog posts need to be made on a regular basis, but not too regular if the quality of the blog posts are of a poor quality. For instance it is better to post just one really informative, quality blog post every 2 or 3 days rather than several flimsy posts on a daily basis. In short it is the quality of the post rather than the quantity. Posting poor quality posts too often will drive your readers away.

Very often forgotten by bloggers is the need to include tags in their blog posts. Tags let you target your posts into different categories, which can then be searched by readers. For each of your posts you should be looking to have two or three tags. Make use of tags correctly. For example, ensure you use the same words for similar posts but don’t give posts too many tags, as this tends to clog up categories.

Don’t have too many widgets and/or images on your blog to the extent that it slows down the loading of your blog. Readers will exit very quickly if the blog takes too long to load.

Always remember as well that blogs and blog posting should be enjoyable. It is not like writing articles for article directories. A blog post should be written more like your own experiences rather than a regurgitation of a load of researched facts. For instance, one of my passions is football. If I was posting a blog post on a football match then I would write it based on my own experiences of attending a football match rather than spout a load of facts about what a football match is – rules, the time a match lasts for etc.

The flexibility of a blog enables the blogger to get their message across and to take on board any responses or feedback from their readers. It doesn’t take that long to set up a blog – again there are many tips and guidelines available on the internet.

On a more administrative level, if you do set up your own blog, don’t forget to include a “Contact Us” and a “Privacy Policy” page as a bare minimum.

Try blogging, you will find it to be both enjoyable and rewarding.

All About Services Offered By Tow Truck Companies

If you own a car, there are good chances of you needing towing services at some point in your life. Whether it is a flat tire, a car breakdown or your vehicle meeting with an accident, you would certainly need the help of a valuable trailer towing service. You can avail towing services for your need 24 hours a day and even on holidays as well as inclement weathers.

When looking for a tow truck, it is important to get services from a professional and reputable provider. Vehicles that are not protected well can get damaged while in transit and lead to a difficult situation. You are likely to have a bad day when you are looking for the services of a tow truck, and it makes sense not to let this terrible experience make the situation even worse. Hence, it would do well to first do your own homework on the range of services available before utilizing any of them for the safety of your car. Before selecting any towing company, you should get answers to few questions like how much would they charge for providing the services of boosting the battery service, doing tire repair, the amount they charge per tow and the distance to which they offer their tow truck service. If the reasons for getting tow truck service are due to tire fixing, car towing, or jump start, it is important to get it done by a qualified towing service. If the services provided by the towing company are not perfectly done, there are good chances of damaging your car during its tow.

If you are unsure about the type of towing service you require for your specific need, you can inform the service provider about the kind of vehicle that you want to be towed. Any professional towing service will be able to advise you if your vehicle needs a flatbed tow truck service for its transportation. You could need towing service to help you get out of emergencies. It is in these situations that the best and efficient towing companies can help you get out of the unpleasant situations the most. The helpful employees of these towing companies can provide you with advice and help in selecting the right tow trucks for your specific situation. When it comes to selecting the right two trailer towing services, you are likely to find yourself in a confused situation. But you can free yourself of worry by the right selection of specialized and reliable company and ensure saving both your money and time. Next time when you are stuck somewhere, get precious advises and skill of a reliable towing company.

Products And – Or Services – Defining "Service-Oriented" Products and the Related Role of Technology

The economy can be analyzed using both market-driven and production-driven approaches to industry classification. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) uses a market-driven approach; the older Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) uses a production-driven approach.

Under a market-driven approach, the economy comprises goods-producing and service-providing industries. Goods-producing industries include: natural resources and mining, construction, and manufacturing; service-providing industries include: wholesale and retail trade, transportation (and warehousing), utilities, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and public administration.

Under a production-driven approach, the economy comprises product-driven and service-driven industries. Product-driven industries comprise enterprises that manage inventories available for sale as primary activities (regardless of whether they transform them or not). Under this approach, the retail, wholesale, and food service industries are product-driven. (The kitchens of food service providers are equivalent to factories.) Product-driven enterprises may have extensive cost accounting and operations practices for inventory management.

Industry classifications can be applied to an enterprise as a whole (the primary industry), and to the establishments within it, which may be in differing secondary industries. Establishments are facilities that include plants (factories and warehouses) and branches (retail and wholesale outlets).

For example, the hospitality industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the bar and restaurant establishments within a hotel are product-driven. The entertainment industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail and bar establishments within a theater are product-driven. The health care industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail pharmacy establishment within a hospital is product-driven. Under the market-driven approach, all of these establishments are service-providing.

For example, a manufacturing enterprise is goods-producing under a market-driven approach, and product-driven under a production-driven approach. If it also operates a retail delivery system, the stores are service-providers under a market-driven approach, and are product-driven under a production-driven approach. If all sales revenue is sourced from its own products, the enterprise is in two primary industries. However, if forced to decide, its selection should be based upon core competencies – activities that it performs well. The enterprise can be divided into two separate business units: manufacturing and merchandising. The merchandising unit is an internal customer of the manufacturing unit. However, depending on strategy and policy, the manufacturing unit could sell products to wholesalers and other retailers, and the merchandising unit could buy products from other manufacturers and wholesalers. Under a market-driven approach, the manufacturing unit is goods-producing and the merchandising unit is service-providing, whereas under the production-driven approach, the merchandising unit is product-driven.

The make-up of the economy changes overtime as newer industries emerge and grow and older industries mature and decline. For example, the manufacturing industry is shifting from vertically integrated to strategically outsourced. Strategic outsourcers may manufacture specialized components and assemble finished products. However, by outsourcing the manufacturing of utility components to specialty scale manufacturers, strategic outsourcers can lower their production costs.

Biotechnology and nanotechnology are emerging industries. The information industries are growing as technology becomes more ubiquitous, and as knowledge is packaged in digital products. Knowledge is information that has been learned and retained. In the future, knowledge will be retained extensively in electronic form.

Products and services…

The term “product” is associated with something that is tangible – the resulting inventory from agricultural, mining and drilling, construction, and manufacturing activities. Outputs are either end-products, or components that are assembled into end-products in downstream processes within the enterprise or in its customers.

The term “service” is associated with something that is intangible – capabilities either delivered at the point or time of sale, or shortly thereafter, or as a supporting service. Supporting services can be purchased at the time of sale for downstream use, or later, and consist of such items as warranties beyond those bundled with the product, preventive maintenance, and routine cleaning and repairs.

Functions and features of products are easier to discern than those of services, which are event or activity driven, and may occur in the future.

The term “time of sale” means when a contractual or non-contractual agreement between a buyer and a seller is made, and does not necessarily mean when revenue is recognized and earned. Revenue is recognized and earned according to the accounting principles that fit the service offering, which may be over a period of time.

A commodity is a product or service that is indistinguishable and interchangeable with another of the same type because there is little to no value added. Many commodities are natural, such as produce, minerals, oil, and gas. Services can be commoditized too. The distinguishing factors of a commodity provider include convenience, quality of service, and price.

Product-driven enterprises also offer delivery and supporting services. Delivery services include arranging for transportation, dealer preparation, training, and gift wrapping. Supporting services include cleaning, repairs, and maintenance. To remain competitive over time, enterprises have to add services with their product offerings that exceed customer expectations. However, if customers require such services, then they must become part of the basic offerings. For example, bathroom facilities and color TV are included in modern hotel rooms, even though the primary purpose is providing a place to sleep.

Although services are intangible, their effects are not. Transportation services move people, cleaning services remove dirt and stains, and repair services restore items to working order. Services require facilities, equipment, and supplies that are bundled in. When products are bundled in, the enterprise pays sales or use tax, if applicable; when products are sold with services, the customer usually pays sales or use tax, if applicable.

Service-driven enterprises can produce tangible deliverables. For example, dry cleaners produce clean and pressed clothes; professional service firms, such as architects, accountants, attorneys, and consultants produce reports; and engineers produce design drawings that can be transformed into facilities, equipment, or other tangible products.

The recording and movie industries employ technologies that can capture sound and pictures. Starting in laboratories, these industries transform science into art. Hence, live entertainment performances (services) can be transformed into recorded products. As a consequence, an event or activity can be reproduced, duplicated, distributed, and repeated to the public-at-large indefinitely. Digital products are impacting traditional manufacturing, distribution, and consumer buying behaviors, and placing intermediaries at risk.

Process control and information technologies have enabled seamless integration between designers and manufacturers. The “design-to-construction” process becomes ubiquitous as computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies (CAD/CAM) enable a designer in one location to transmit specifications to manufacturers in others. The designs are virtual, and result in instructions that control manufacturing equipment in both local and remote locations. As a consequence, manufacturing can be outsourced strategically to any manufacturer that can accept electronic designs anywhere at any time. Because the process is seamless, the precision is higher.

As more enterprises adopt the design-to-construction model, dramatic changes will occur in the structure of industries. For example, in the publishing industry, books can be printed on demand from electronic files upon receipt of orders placed over the internet, eliminating the need for physical inventory available for sale at printers, publishers, and bookstores. The electronic files represent a virtual finished goods inventory from which physical products can be made when necessary. As a consequence, inventory carrying costs are lower.

Both product-driven and service-driven industries render service from centers that receive inbound and place outbound service and telemarketing calls. Call center activities can be outsourced in a similar fashion to manufacturing.

The notion of strategic outsourcing can be applied to almost every function in an enterprise provided intellectual property is protected. However, although management consultants may be used in the development of strategy, the ultimate responsibility for planning, deployment, execution, and performance remains in-house with the governance function.

Products and/or services…

The term “products and/or services” describes collectively all types of products and services.

Service-driven industries are evolving into providers of both “product-oriented” and “service-oriented” services. In order to differentiate product-oriented services from the delivery and supporting services, the term “service-oriented” products provides more clarity. Service-oriented products must be definable, duplicable, and repeatable. They are intangible outputs of processes that are represented by tangible items, packaged in a definable form. Technology plays a major role in the delivery through hardware, software, and both voice and data telecommunications. “Hard” products are tangible and “soft” products are intangible.

For example, traditional land phone line services were offerings with few differentiating features, primarily in the style of equipment. As the telephone system migrated from electro-mechanical to electronic, the offerings were transformed into service-oriented products with features such as call forwarding, caller identification, call waiting, and voice mail. Cell phone offerings are service-oriented products with more extensive functions and features than land lines. Cell phone service-oriented products have cameras built-in, and have delivery and supporting services bundled in such as account information, internet access, and application software for calculators, calendars, contact information, notes, games, music, pictures and movies. Cell phone and computer technologies are converging.

In the financial and business and professional services industries, service-oriented products are packaged with such items as accounts, agreements, brochures, contracts, databases, documents, equipment, facilities, policies, procedures, and statements.

In the leisure and hospitality industries, service-oriented products such as flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and limousine services are packaged with facilities, equipment, and supplies. The types of facilities and equipment define specific offerings. For example, an Airbus A380 renders a different experience from a Douglas DC3 even though the principal service is the same: providing air transportation. A hotel room with a view of the ocean renders a different experience from one with no windows at all, even though the principal service is the same: providing accommodation. The quality of the accoutrements such as blankets, pillows, towels, newspapers, cable TV, internet access, and fruit baskets can affect the overall experience. A Cadillac renders a different experience from a Chevrolet, even through the principal service is the same: providing a rental car to drive, or a limousine.

Travel-related service-providers bundle air, hotel, car rental, and limousine services into packages to make the buying decisions easier for consumers. Event planners bundle travel-related services with conference and convention services for enterprises.

Consumables, durables, and facilities…

Manufactured products consist consumables and durables.

Consumables are products change or wear out as they are used and comprise food, clothing, personal care, health care, household supply, and office supply items. Media such as books, records, audio and video CDs, and DVDs are classed as consumables – the intellectual property is worth far more than the media.

Durables are long lasting equipment items such as appliances, furniture, and vehicles.

Digital products may involve no media if they delivered electronically other than the server of the publisher and the electronic device of the user.

Facilities are the outputs of construction activities and are made of durable materials.

Contractual or non-contractual products and/or services…

Agreements are contractual or non-contractual based depending upon the type of offering, and the nature of the relationship between buyers and sellers.

Consumable products can be sold with the right to return for exchange or refund within a certain period of time. Durable products can be sold with agreements that define warranties and maintenance.

Service-oriented products and services can be sold with agreements that specify exactly what is to be delivered and when, with procedures for reporting problems or complaints.

In negotiations, discussions should embrace the specific functions and features of hard and soft products, and the delivery and supporting services. Experienced negotiators pay attention to both the tangibles and intangibles because the total cost of ownership comprises both.

Digital-construction and digital-manufacturing…

As technology continues to develop, service-oriented products will become more common because it makes intangible items definable. New knowledge-based industries will emerge.

The reproduction of software on physical media is classified as goods-producing, and all other development and publishing activities are classified as service-providing under NAICS. However, software and other digital products are durable because they can last indefinitely, even if they have to be transferred among storage media. Software products are developed by service-providers such as business and professional services firms, publishers, and “in-house” developers. Nevertheless, software development activities require the project management disciplines of goods-producing industries, such as construction and manufacturing, to be successful.

The “digital-construction” and “digital-manufacturing” industries are evolving: digital construction delivers software; digital manufacturing delivers soft service-oriented, information, and knowledge-based products. However, through CAD/CAM processes, software delivers hard products too. In the future, almost all hard and soft products will result from digital-construction and digital-manufacturing processes.

Defining product and/or services is an enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competency.