In addition to the conventional “4Ps” of the marketing mix discussed in our last post, there are in the case of service marketing, additional three Ps, namely;
- Physical evidence
Owing primarily to the intangible and inseparable characteristics of service products, a key factor is how the customer perceives the service and the degree of satisfaction received by the customer.
Often, the extent to which a customer is happy with a service is due to the attitude, skills and appearance of the people the customer comes into contact with when consuming the service. In fact, very often a customer will purchase a service primarily because of the people they deal with.
For example, many people will use a particular hair salon primarily because of the hairdresser. Similarly, although one might be able to have one’s teeth filled by any dentist, we usually go back because we are happy with a particular dentist.
The importance of the people element of the marketing mix for services cannot be overestimated. Because of this, it is important that this element of the mix is well planned. Time and resources should be spent on factors such as staff training, appearance, selling skills and so on.
A somewhat unusual term relates to those factors that can help to shape the customer’s perception and image of the service provider. For example, many hotels these days provide writing paper, pens, entertainment information and so on in their hotel bedrooms – thus producing an image of caring and quality.
Similarly, many of the fast-food outlets take great care over the design and layout of the outlets and how they are furnished. Many of the third generation banks in Nigeria for instance, spend liberally to ensure aesthetic internal and external outlook of their buildings.
Increasingly service marketers are focusing their attention on the design and provision of a total service concept designed to create a pre-planned atmosphere or image.
The final element of the marketing mix for services is based on the idea that the ways in which the service is provided, e.g. systems of delivery are also important. Co-ordination of activities and concern that customers must be fully satisfied must underpin the firm’s systems and procedures. Again, this is a design issue since unless the needed processes are identified and designed; they will be incomplete and/or unsatisfactory. Both sides of an organization must show genuine concern for the customer but unfortunately they often do not. The sales side is usually sweetness and light. It is the credit control and claims people who can destroy a relationship.
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