The traditional marketing mix was designed and gained popularity in an era where most businesses sold products. Any service provision and the role of good customer service was largely ignored and the potential impact on brand development and the user experience was not understood. This was remedied when Booms and Bitner proposed their extension to create the services marketing mix that we see today. The extended model should now be used to create competitive strategies in a more holistic manner.
Defining Services Marketing
Now a recognized offshoot of the traditional field of marketing, services marketing is the design of strategy to address the provision of services, both in a business to consumer context and the business to business scenario. Some examples of core services are telecom services, airlines, accountancy or tax services, the hotel industry and professional services such as hair dressers, dry cleaners or tailoring services. Services marketing may also cover elements in a traditional physical product sales environment such as customer services and tech support.
A service is ‘a type of economic activity that is intangible, it is not stored and does not result in ownership. A service is consumed at the point of sale.’ Given this definition, the new Ps added to the model gain new importance. Since the service cannot be owned and is consumed at the point of delivery, the process through which it is delivered, the person who delivers it, and the environment in which it is delivered become an indicator of whether a customer leaves satisfied and if they will want to return.
Fundamental Characteristics of a Service
There are five fundamental defining characteristics of a service. These characteristics are the basis of the 7P model for marketing. These are:
Intangible – Primary to the definition of a service is the notion that there is no tangible result of the service in the customer’s hand. The customer does gain something when they leave....