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Services marketing is difficult to define

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Introduction

Victoria Haynes SN 02002158 Services marketing is difficult to define. Grove & Fisk (1983, 1992) produced work based upon the metaphor of services as theatre. How appropriate do you feel this metaphor is in defining services and how may it help or hinder the services marketer? "A service is an act or performance offered by one party "A service is an act or performance offered by one party to another. Although the process may be tied to a physical product, the performance is essentially intangible and does not normally result in the ownership of any of the factors of production" (Gronroos, 2000 ) It can be difficult to define just what is meant by a service because most products we buy contain a mixture of both goods and service elements. A meal in a restaurant contains a combination of goods elements (the food) and service elements (the manner in which the food is served). Even pure goods such as coal often contain service elements, such as the service required in transporting it from where it was produced to where a customer requires it. A contemporary definition is provided by Kotler, Armstrong, Saunders and Wong (1996); "A service is any activity or benefit that one party can offer to another which is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product". A major contribution to an understanding of services has been made by Gershuny and Miles who made a distinction between four conceptions of the term 'service'. While these distinctions are useful there are other equally valid arguments by various authors, Levitt for instance distinguishes between tangibles and intangibles, Christopher suggests that the distinction is that 'service products are those which produce a series of benefits which cannot be stored'. Wyckham however maintains that 'services are not different from products' as does Levitt " there is no such thing as service industries. ...read more.

Middle

support this theory to say that the use of symbols, logos, and tangible cues all contribute to defining a corporate image or brand. Marketers need to be aware of the power of the servicescape to influence the consumer's perception of the type, quality and manner of the service offering. The servicescape is essentially the stage, in theatre the use of props to create the scene and atmosphere the audience receive and will therefore create authenticity. This is very important for companies who depend on their brand as a gimmick or as a way of differentiation, for example The Hard Rock Caf´┐Ż uses memorabilia to decorate the restaurants in order to create the necessary surroundings and atmosphere for their particular service. The use of front and back stage is evident in services; the staff's performance is given and received out front whilst the supporting back stage staff are not seen by the customers. Customers are not allowed to wonder freely into the kitchens or staff only areas, the same is true at the theatre. The division of the servicescape into front and back stage is not applicable to all service sectors and hence more relevant in some than others. When used in the theatre the script is defined as a "blueprint for theatrical production" (Aston and Savona, 1991). In a services marketing situation the use of a script inform the service staff what should be done in certain situations. Lord and Kernam (1987) suggest that scripts create conformity and hence procedures so the staff can be sure of what exactly which actions to take. The problem with the use of scripts become apparent when there is an element of ambiguity and the service staff are not empowered to be able to deal with the situation which has occurred outside the script. Front of house staff, in particular, will need to be able to improvise and its at this point they will be judged by the customer ( Carlzon, 1987). ...read more.

Conclusion

Pine and Gilmore (1999) discussed "the experience economy" in which companies 'stage' experiences whenever they engage customers, connecting with them in a personal, memorable way'. However they did not agree with the use of the metaphor services as theatre, they use theatre in the sense that he sense that "work is theatre" not "work as theatre". Lovelock and Young's observation that customers are often in the factory describes the fact that the customers often participate in service production. (Appendix A). The factory metaphor in comparison with the theatre metaphor looks at the automated factory not the stage play; the process and structure not actors and interaction; inputs who contribute to production not the audience requiring cues from the actors; efficiency not rave reviews and design system and procedures and not scripts. (Goodwin, 1996) The application of the factory metaphor is most relevant in the fast food industry and rail travel. The application of the idea of services as theatre creates opportunities and implications for service marketers. When this metaphor is used in the correct service delivery system, the idea of applying the same theory to services as to theatre may be very advantageous for the marketer and maybe able to gain them a competitive advantage. However, as discussed, each different aspect of the theatre experience has its own implications and weaknesses. A dominant theme in services is that the service staff, especially in a theatre setting, should be viewed as an important part of the service. The significance of service staff is tied to the inseparability of producer and consumer and intangibility characteristics of service products. These place greater emphasis upon the process of service delivery and those who are responsible for it. In many cases, the employees who delivery the service are viewed as the service from the customer's perspective showing that service employees are vital to the pursuit of quality in service organizations. Therefore the service marketer should be focusing on hiring the right staff, constant training and intense motivation; in order to stay ahead of the competition. ...read more.

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