Sample Marketing Essay Paper on Service Management theories

Executive Summary

The service industry faces significant challenges in the contemporary times, especially attributed to its inability to be evaluated successfully for quality performance. In the industry is recognized the importance of customer satisfaction cannot be overemphasized. Many studies confirm that the quality of service delivery in the industry influences customer satisfaction which in turn influences performance in any business. Because of this, different theoretical frameworks have been developed to explain the interactions of the business and its clients through dimensions such as the ambient conditions, spatial organization and symbols of service delivery. Such frameworks include the dynamic services management theory, integrative theory and Russel’s theory among others.

Despite the evolution of these theoretical models, the service industry still faces significant challenges in creating an inclusive environment as well as in service quality. The definition accorded to service quality is subjective; leading to the realization that customer satisfaction may not strictly be linked to service quality. Methods such as consideration of all employees as equal and pushing for an inclusive culture in the work place have been recommended to help in addressing inclusion challenges. Queensland Museum has done a lot in terms of the service dimensions as well as by practicing inclusivity in the way they treat clients and employees.

Dimensions of the Service Environment

The service environment is characterized by several challenges, some of which cannot be effectively addressed without inter-departmental collaboration. Gebauer (2005) for instance reports that most companies found it difficult to meet the challenges that arose due to transition from product manufacturing the service providers in relation to the manufactured products. As such, many theories were developed to try and explain the service environment in a manner that would help providers address the challenges while also meeting the needs of the customers. Customers in service evaluate service delivery in terms of three key components which include ambient conditions, spatial layout and functionality and symbols of service delivery.

One of the theories that effectively describe the service environment is the dynamic theory of service management. According to Gebauer, this theory was crafted with the objective of creating an easy transition between product manufacturing and service delivery. The theory is founded on the premise that dependence on service attributes such as intangibility can help to overcome the service jungle where confusion is rife and there are complex interactions between the client and the employees. In particular, the dynamic theory advocates for flexibility in service delivery to bring out the best in clients as well as in employees. The dynamic theory addresses the dimensions of service environment differently. For instance, in the ambient conditions aspect, Haywood (1987) asserts that the physical environmental conditions affect the delivery of services yet they are difficult to control. This contributes to the intensity of the jungle hence the need for a dynamic approach. For the Queensland Museum, ambient conditions are provided through its location, which not only makes it a potential destination for tourists but also attracts those who are there to interact with other aspects of nature. Because of this, the dynamic theory fits the service industry perfectly. The spatial arrangement of a service environment could also impact the impressions of the clients hence the need to incorporate it into any operational model adopted. In this case, the dynamic model implies that the spatial organization of the business environment has to change for customers to be satisfied. More people ate probably attracted to Queensland museum due to the intriguing spatial designs which make the place a story in itself.

The second theory that advances service management is the integrative model. This model is based on the identification and detailed description of the service environment dimensions. Service management dimensions are recognized as the independent variables in the service industry. On the other hand, the customer perceptions about services are considered to be the dependent variables. Because of this, services applying the integrative model seek to find ways through which all the aspects of the service industry fit in together and how the service providers could take advantage of them to realize greater benefits for the business. The employee responses to various conditions are analyzed alongside the customer responses and the two are taken together and categorized as psychological and emotional impacts which affect the behavioral responses of the two parties to their environment (Lovelock & Wirtz, 2016).

A third theory, Russel’s model considers the service environment as characterized by the presence of perceived servicescapes and moderating factors. The three service dimensions are considered to be the creators of the perceived servicescape. The reactions of the customers and the employers towards the perceived servicescape are the moderators of service delivery approach and the combination of the two results in the approach taken by either the customers or the employees. The approaches take two distinctive appearances i.e. internal and external. The internal responses to the dimensions according to Russel’s theory are emotional and psychological impacts while the external responses include feelings of approach and/ or social interactions.

Measures to Increase and Reduce Social Interactions

The efforts made by businesses in the service industry to expand and to increase social interactions are many and varied. According to a study conducted by Lovelock and Wirtz (2016), increasing social interactions within the service environment can be accomplished through reliance on the dimensions of service management satisfactorily. The authors suggest that when using ambient conditions to enhance social interactions, the service providers have to consider the holistic as well as separate perceptions of customers and the employees. The ambient conditions created at Queensland Museum to favor social interactions include the use of music, scents, color schemes and lighting, temperature and shape and size perceptions. The service providers have to be clever in the manipulation of these conditions to match the type of clientele intended to be attracted by the business. For instance, it would be essential to distinguish between music and noise. While good music appeals to the emotions of customers and increases their interest in staying at a place, noise interferes with the comfort of the customers and drives them away. Similarly, scents such as lavender, eucalyptus, black paper and lemon can have different impacts on the customers, all of which are positive in terms of social interactions impacts. Using warm colors could create a sense of calmness which attracts more clients to the Queensland Museum premise.

In spatial functionality and layout, service providers are expected to use those designs that appeal to the customers. For instance, the type of floor plan and the furniture used in a given service setting could be the distinguishing factor between social interactions and lack thereof. In organizing a service business layout, the providers ought to consider the functionality of the space and furniture before marketing their services as befitting of a certain caliber of personnel. For instance, the layout, settings and furniture associated with Queensland Museum cannot be similar to those associated with restaurants or other social centers. The functionalities served by the furniture should be corresponding to the layout of the furniture in the hence, hence the lack of many furniture in the area. Most of the areas in the Museum are standing spaces as people are not expected to sit in there. Symbols and signs in a servicescape, on the other hand, influence the perspectives of the customers differently. For new customers, the meanings read into the signs and symbols of the space would help them to create a temporal perception of what the place offers and its difference from other places. When the image created is impressive, the customer is bound to come back. Such places offer a constant flow of social interactions like Queensland Museum. On the other hand, when the signs used are uncertain or ambiguous, potential clients tend to back off as ambiguous signs result in feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

Service Quality Issues

Whatever the service management theories or models adopted by service businesses, there are some service quality issues that persist across the board. Haywood, for instance, discusses the role of different service providers in relation to their businesses. According to Haywood (1987), the greatest issue faced by businesses in the service industry is the lack of optimum input from employees. Haywood asserts that most of the employees in service sector industry do much less than they were expected to do during recruitment. The main problem with this is that in spite of being aware of the low productivity of service industry workers, there are no clear-cut actions that could be taken against them since there are no measures that could be applied to determine the percentage of input they are making as compared to businesses dealing with goods. Haywood goes further to describe other pertinent issues in service quality. Issues such as lack of inventory management since services cannot be stored make it difficult to balance the supply versus the demand for services. Apart from this, the client- employee work relationship is also often complex hence not easily evaluated. The environment and physical settings for the business also influence the business quality yet cannot be modified by the service provider. This mainly poses a challenge to the business owner who must either find another location that would suit their business or remain at the same location without profits. Service management models such as Russel’s model which focuses on initial perception can find it difficult to address these issues independently. However, through an integrative service management model combined with the dynamic model, it would be possible to find strategies for maintaining a balance between the adverse positions of disadvantage and maintaining positive rapport with the clients and the employees.

Servicenow Inc (2015) claims that; while it is easy to monitor the delivery of goods in a business, the same cannot be said of the service industry. This means that service delivery is a concept that lacks visibility in the business essence. There are many reasons attributed to this lack of visibility in the industry. Some of these reasons include: change related quality issues; shared infrastructure and out- dated service maps. In the service industry, identifying changes when they occur is difficult as consumers do not always report on their change perspectives and initiatives. Moreover, such changes may only be realized at an internal level leading to difficulty in identifying their impacts. Consequently, it is possible for the services associated with a given business to be considered of low quality and the customers to leave without the business’ management understanding why. Sharing infrastructures also makes it difficult to monitor and follow up on effective service delivery practices. It can thus be deduced that maintaining effective and high high-quality ice delivery is a part of the industry that still advances on a daily basis.

Importance of Service Quality on Customer Response

The expectations of customers in reaching out for a particular service are informed by various factors. According to a study conducted by Zeithmal and Bitner (2000), customer expectations are developed as a function of personal and situational factors that come into play during the search for a service. Personal factors in this case may include attitudes, needs and budget that the customer has at hand. On the other hand, situational factors include aspects such as the negative publicity associated with a particular product or service. Because of this, predicting customer expectations may be difficult in a service business such as Queensland where the clients may be attracted by different things. Consequently, achieving customer satisfaction in this kind of environment is difficult as it is to evaluate them on the same.

Although there are claims that customer satisfaction is an independent variable, authors such as Hallowell (1996), it is possible for customer expectations to be influenced by the service perception. In this case, when the price paid for the services are high, customers to expect high service qualities. Similarly, when the prices are significantly reduced, the quality of service delivered is also expected to low. When the quality of service delivery experienced matches the expected quality, the customer may respond positively through repeat purchases (Albert, 2002).

The perceptions developed by the customer may be in terms of value and/ or quality. The value is determined based on the level to which the service provided satisfies the customer needs. On the other hand, the quality is evaluated based on the expected outcome. Rajicic and Ciric (2008) define service quality in four different ways. Quality in service delivery is described as the ability to match specifications; the potential for the defined specifications for use to meet the specifications developed by the consumer’s; the exhibition of fairness in the exchange of use potential at the price value accorded to the service. When a service contains all these properties, it can be described as being of high quality with respect to the customer. However, this definition is still considered to be subjective given that customer satisfaction cannot be distinctively defined. As such, while a service may possess these and more qualities the response of the customer cannot be predicted based on these qualities alone. Businesses such as the Queensland museum offer customer satisfaction without necessarily having customers repeat their visit. This is because most people who seek such services opt to visit newer places where they have not been before contrary to the effectiveness of the older places. A service may be of high quality yet still be highly priced in comparison to the competitors who are also of good quality (Rajicic & Ciric, 2008).

Because of this, Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman (1996) link customer expectations and their perceptions regarding service quality to indicators such as reliability, politeness, competitiveness, accessibility, communicability, tangibility, safety, credibility and commitment among others. According to these authors, such values are associated with service quality and the responses of customers to the same are in most cases positive. Based on the ambiguity accorded to the definition of service quality, it would be difficult to predict the outcomes of such concepts on the customer responses. However, Rajicic and Ciric recommend the five dimensions model of evaluation developed by Parasuraman.

Challenges faced in the Creation of an Inclusive Service Environment

The service industry is characterized by great diversity. With the current work place requirements and hiring practices, creation of a diverse work environment is inevitable in the service industry. This however is not a challenge as the main issues arise in trying to engage and support all employees in the work environment. An all inclusive working environment is a difficult task to accomplish due to the in-bred misconceptions that some of the workers may have. It is intensive and requires input from the management as well as willingness on the part of employees to be engaged in and trained on practicing inclusion in the work place. One of the key challenges that may be faced in this is the organizational culture. In the service industry, there are stereotypes that have been developed to guide the characteristics of people who may work in certain service businesses (Gronroos, 2001). Because of this, individuals who feel disentangled from the process may opt to keep to themselves and may not be fully engaged in a team. For instance, individuals with disabilities or those of a particular gender may be indifferent to engagement as they feel that their differences could be a cause for reprisal (Du Toit, 2004). Such feelings also result in increased absenteeism, low productivity and high employee turnover rates.

The management roles and attitudes also play important functions in creating inclusion challenges in the work place. Practices such as discrimination bring about the perception that the work environment is not inclusive. For instance, through speeches, managers can indicate their attitudes towards the disabled through referring to them by their disabilities first, In such an environment, the employees who are disabled may view themselves as less valued in the organization and thus inconsequential (Du Toit, 2004). On the other hand, those who are already within the environment can create a positive perception through their words which identify the disabled as people first before their disabilities (DESA, 2009). In the latter environment, it would be easy to achieve inclusion. The absence of such practices poses challenges to the inclusion process resulting in difficulties in the accomplishment of an inclusive environment in the service industry.

Societal stereotypes may also hinder the development of an inclusive environment in the services industry. Depending on the services being provided, there are perceptions that the society has ingrained in the members that individuals of certain predispositions cannot accomplish the tasks associated with those industries (DESA, 2009). As such, individuals who perceive themselves to fall out of the defined constraints tend to eliminate themselves from consideration for roles in those services. A typical example of this is in engineering where it is very rare to find the disabled being active participants. The society is structured such as engineering services are associated with the robust that are ready to be on the move at the shortest whim. Such preconditions limit engagement in various roles in the society, with the greatest challenges facing those whose stereotypes are negative. In this scenario, the impediment to inclusion comes not only via the attitudes of those to be included but also through the societal expectations.

Solutions to Service Industry issues

From the previous sections, it is evident that the challenges of the service industry are extensive and based on different aspects of functionality. The dimensions of service management describe the extent to which customer satisfaction can be improved through the use of various factors. However, consideration of these factors enumerates the need to do more than focusing on the dimensions and applying the theories of service management. As such, it is recommended that:

A strategy can also be developed for the evaluation of customer satisfaction levels in the Queensland Museum. To accomplish this, a recommended strategy is to align the customer expectations to service delivery qualities. Provision of feedback can go a long way in ensuring that service businesses align their goals to the expectations of their customers. For instance in the museum industry; providing a questionnaire for the customers to fill during checking in and also during checking out, can help managers to identify discrepancies between customer expectations and their experiences. In cases where clients repeatedly report performance below their expectations, the industry business would put together resources for training employees on how to better handle the customers for their satisfaction.

Another strategy would be to provide a guideline to the customers to fine-tune their expectations by clearly outlining the business deliverables. In spite of the need to paint an impressive picture to customers regarding a business, it is important to promise them only that which can be delivered. During service delivery, the museum should also ensure that whatever they resolve to do is done to the ultimate perfection. In this way, the customers can discover the scope of their services and thus expect what can be delivered. This would improve chances for customer satisfaction and subsequent referral of others.

Furthermore, maintaining employee morale is one of the ways through which the employees can be made to perfect their service delivery skills. However, employees cannot be motivated when their needs are not met. One of the needs of all humans is to be recognized and valued. An inclusive work environment effectively projects an image of a business that values its employees and appreciates them. It is therefore recommended that employers in the service industry such as those in the museum, should ensure that their employees are well remunerated and also that they are considered a crucial and effective part of the organization.

One way through which employers can help in this is by maintaining an all inclusive culture through valuing the cultural and religious practices of all employees without discrimination; disregarding discrimination of others due to their sexual orientation and referring to all people first before their disabilities or inabilities in the organization. In this way, the employers get to treat their employees as assets and not as a means of production. Employees such treated are bound to give impressive results in terms of productivity as well as service delivery. In addition to this, employers could also incorporate training in order to instill the culture of inclusivity into all the employees. During such trainings, the use of concrete rather than abstract examples in defining ills can help to boost understanding of what an inclusive work environment ought to look like. Inclusivity may further involve catering for the needs of the disabled such as the blind, the hearing impaired who need hearing aids among others.

References

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DESA (2009). Creating an inclusive society: Practical strategies to promote social integration. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/egms/docs/2009/Ghana/inclusive-society.pdf

Du Toit, A. (2004). Social exclusion discourse and chronic poverty: A South African case study. Development and Change, 35(5), 987- 1010.

Gebauer, H. (2005). A dynamic theory of service management: Implications for managing service improvements, avoiding the “Service Jungle.”

Gronroos, C. (2001). A service quality model and its marketing implications. European Journal of Marketing, 18(4), 36-44.

Haywood, K.M. (1987). Service management concepts: Implications for hospitality management. Hospitality Review, 5(2): 43- 60.

Hallowell, R. (1996). The relationship of customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability: An empirical study. The International Journal of Service Industry Management, 7(4), 27- 42.

Lovelock, C. H., & Wirtz, J. (2016). Services marketing: People, technology, strategy. Hackensack NJ: World Scientific.

Rajicic, B.N. and Ciric, M. (2008). The importance of service quality for achieving customer satisfaction. Fascicle of Management and Technological Engineering, VII (XVII).

Servicenow Inc. (2015). ‘Get to the root of your business service quality issues.’ White paper, Service Now Incorporated.

Zeithaml, V.A., Berry, L.L and Parasuraman, A. (1996). The Behavioral Consequences of Service Quality. Journal of Marketing, 31- 46.

Zeithaml, V.A. and Bitner, L.J. (2000). Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus across the Firm. New York: Sage Publications.