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Importance of Efficient Service Management

Question:

Discuss about the Essay for Services Marketing of Increasing Customer Participation.

            This essay aims to discuss the evaluation of service encounter, which involves the personal interaction of the consumers with the service employees, in the process of availing the service. In today’s highly competitive world, the importance of proper and efficient service management cannot be overstated. When an organization is capable of rendering proper service to its consumers, it helps them in providing maximum consumer satisfaction that in turn helps the organization in customer retention and brand recognition. Shostack defined the term “Service Encounter”, as the particular period, when a consumer interacts with an organization, through its employees, or its physical facilities. The concept of service encounter is very important as if the service being offered to the consumer exceeds or at least meets the consumer’s expectations, then only the organization will be able to leave a positive impression in the minds of the consumers (Dabholkar , 2015). In case, the consumer has an unpleasant experience with the service employees, he might opt for some another organization.

            A consumer is the real asset of an organization, and as such the quality of service rendered to the consumers, become a matter of paramount importance. On visiting an organization, attention is not only paid to what service is being provided, but also how is it being provided to the consumer. Woolworths, is one of the most reputed supermarket chains in Australia, known for its round the clock service, in its online sale of grocery products. These organizations, such as Woolworths, which provides virtual shopping experiences, to its consumers, must ensure that the employees are quick and prompt in responding to the orders of the consumers.  When a call was being made for ordering a few grocery products, from Woolworths, the employees of the organization took considerable time, before one of them responded to the call. However, the employees claimed that too many people called up at the same time, and there was a shortage of time, in responding to the calls in a short time, and hence there was delay in the whole process. Not only so, the website page of the organization is also not very responsive, and that largely affects the overall reputation of the organization.

            In the book named, “Delivering Quality Service”, the authors, Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry, spoke about the importance of RATER model, in evaluating the power of an organization, in satisfying its existent consumers. Here, the RATER model shall be used in order to analyze and measure the extent to which Woolworths, as an organization, is capable of satisfying the demands and the expectations of its consumers. However, for carrying out the RATER audit, a Gap analysis will be carried out, by considering each of the five dimensions of the RATER model (Yan et al., 2013).

            The RATER model consists of 5 components- Reliability, Assurance, Tangibility, Empathy and Responsiveness ("The RATER Model: Five Ways to Measure Service", 2016). As far as the question of Reliability is concerned, the organization is quite reliable, as it is very systematically organized in reaching out to the consumer, and providing him whatever he has asked for. Since, Woolworths is one of the very few retail organizations that has introduced the concept of e-commerce, it is convenient to place an order, without the need to visit the shop. However, the organization needs to be more Responsive, in getting in touch with the consumers. The service has to be more prompt and accurate in time, because if the employees are opting for virtual shopping methods, they are surely looking for time-intensive ways of getting their goods and services delivered (Sorensen et al., 2013). For this reason, the employees should be provided proper training. Since at present, there are limited number of employees, responsible for taking the order from the consumers at night, the management authority has to hire a few fresh employees. Although, the quality of the goods being delivered by Woolworths, is undeniably high, the quality of service, is not yet up to the mark. Further, the website page is so disappointing, as it is very slow and not very regularly updated, and does not contain many food items, sold in the physical shops of the organization (Lee et al., 2013). Hence, in terms of Assurance, the organization cannot provide a very high quality service to the consumers. It is recommended, that the organization regularly updates its official website page, and trains its employees to repair the website page, making it more user friendly. However, the customer care service is incredibly great, and the employees of the organization accept the feedbacks, both the positive and negative ones, with much patience and adequate care. When the customer service authority was being made aware of the delay in service, the customer service agent listened about the inconvenience, with great patience, warmth and empathy. Not only so, he apologized on behalf of the organization, and the whole gesture was quite appreciating. The quality of Empathy while dealing with the consumer, can make him feel valued and appreciated, and hence great importance should be attached to the same, while rendering service to the consumers. In terms of tangibility, the employees, the hired workers are more of less being provided with adequate training, to serve the consumers with sufficient care and attention (Soderlund et al., 2013).

Service Encounter

            There are usually various kinds of customers, and each one can be highly distinguished from him or her, in terms of his or her expectations from an organization. There are few customers who usually have a low level of endurance, and as such they would prefer a service that is very quick, responsive and prompt. In absence of tight range of service, these consumers may even opt for other service.  In most of the cases, a consumer, while availing the service from an organization, considers the service encounter system, such as the employee’s interaction with the consumer, physical facility, and other factors an important part of the service itself. Hence, it is important to satisfy the demands of the consumers, more efficiently than the rival organizations. The service expectations of the consumers, can be influenced by various factors, such as word of mouth communication or past experience. In case of word of mouth communication, an individual getting influenced to avail a service, based on the recommendation of a friend or after watching the advertisement on TV, the expectation of the consumer is usually not very high. On the other hand, in case of past experience, the consumer’s previous exposure to similar service, may increase the expectation level of the consumers. Keeping this in mind, an organization needs to adopt strategies, that will help in the quality management of the organization (Marr , 2013).

          Reliability is a very important issue, in any business organization, and it must ensure that the consumers are able to enjoy an uninterrupted service on part of the employees, serving them. In order to meet the consumer’s expectations, an organization must make its service accessible as much as possible, and if needed, the organization should be taking help of metrics to measure the extent of its consumer satisfaction. For this, conducting surveys on the consumers, can help in understanding the whole situation. When consumers visit Woolworths, they expect a very high quality service, and it is the responsibility of the management authority of Woolworths, to ensure that it is being able to rise up to the expectation level of its consumers.. In absence of the same, the management perception gap will emerge, which gradually ruins the reputation of the organization (Rao et al., 2015). Further, the organization should ensure that there is no market communication gap. Usually, Woolworths stays true and loyal to the promises, it makes to the consumers, but despite that fact, much complaints were being made, in the recent past, when several consumers could not gain access to the discounts and offers Woolworths promised its consumers, through online shopping mode. The service delivery gap, should also be considered with equal attention (Wilson et al., 2012). This gap is defined as the difference between what the consumers expect the service of an organization to be, and what is the actual standard of service being provided. Woolworths, itself is certified by British Standards Instituition, that ensures that all the products sold by Woolworths, is at par with the safety standards (Vargo and Lasch , 2014). The employees, at the same time, responsible for providing the services, are trained, and since they belong to diverse cultural backgrounds, there is lesser possibility of conflict with the consumers of different ethnic backgrounds. In fact, the employees are well behaved, and extremely friendly in the way they interact with the consumers. Their responsiveness to the inquiries of the consumers, and a willingness to assist them, once they visit the shop, is quite commendable (Sirianni et al., 2013).

Conclusion:                   

                The concept of service encounter is highly important. This is because, service encounter is directly proportional to the satisfaction of the consumers, and is indirectly related to the perceived value and trust of the organization. According to Parasuraman, the satisfaction of the consumers depends not only on the products being sold and the services being offered, but also on how the consumers are being treated in the process. Hence, keeping this point in consideration, the organizations are trying to improve each individual service encounter, by bringing change in the structure of the organization, its philosophy or its culture .

Reference List:

Dabholkar, P. A. (2015). How to improve perceived service quality by increasing customer participation. In Proceedings of the 1990 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference (pp. 483-487). Springer International Publishing.

Lee, H. J., Suh, J. Y., & Yoon, K. H. (2013). A comparative study on the effect of experiences on service encounter, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty in the homemade and foreign coffee shop brands–Centered on the moderating role of brand trust. Journal of Foodservice Management Society of Korea, 16(3), 197-227.

Marr, N. E. (2013). Do managers really know what service their customers require?. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management.

Rao, C. P., & Rosenberg, L. J. (2015). Service Provider and Receiver Perceptual Gap Analysis For Effective Dental Specialist Services Marketing. In Proceedings of the 1989 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference (pp. 583-587). Springer International Publishing.

Sirianni, N. J., Bitner, M. J., Brown, S. W., & Mandel, N. (2013). Branded service encounters: Strategically aligning employee behavior with the brand positioning. Journal of Marketing, 77(6), 108-123.

Söderlund, M., Liljander, V., Gummerus, J., Hellman, P., Lipkin, M., Oikarinen, E. L., ... & T. Liljedal, K. (2014). Preferential treatment in the service encounter. Journal of Service Management, 25(4), 512-530.

Sørensen, F., Sundbo, J., & Mattsson, J. (2013). Organisational conditions for service encounter-based innovation. Research Policy, 42(8), 1446-1456.

The RATER Model: Five Ways to Measure Service. (2016). Mindtools.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/rater.htm

Vargo, S. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2014). Service-dominant logic. What it is not, What it.

Wilson, A., Zeithaml, V. A., Bitner, M. J., & Gremler, D. D. (2012). Services marketing: Integrating customer focus across the firm. McGraw Hill.

Yan, A., Solomon, S., Mirchandani, D., Lacity, M., & Porra, J. (2013). The role of service agent, service quality, and user satisfaction in self-service technology
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