In the previous article we discussed the characteristics of a service. In this article we look at how the marketing mix for marketing a service is different to the marketing mix for products. Just like the marketing mix of a product the service marketing mix comprises of Product, Price, Place and Promotion. How ever as a service is not tangible the marketing mix for a service has three additional elements: People, Process and Physical Evidence.
People are an essential ingredient in service provision; recruiting and training the right staff is required to create a competitive advantage. Customers make judgments about service provision and delivery based on the people representing your organisation. This is because people are one of the few elements of the service that customers can see and interact with. The praise received by the volunteers (games makers) for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics demonstrates the powerful effect people can create during service delivery.
Staff require appropriate interpersonal skills, aptititude, and service knowledge in order to deliver a quality service. In the UK many organisations apply for the "Investors in People" Accreditation to demonstrate that they train their staff to prescribed standards and best practices.
This element of the marketing mix looks at the systems used to deliver the service. Imagine you walk into Burger King and order a Whopper Meal and you get it delivered within 2 minutes. What was the process that allowed you to obtain an efficient service delivery? Banks that send out Credit Cards automatically when their customers old one has expired again require an efficient process to identify expiry dates and renewal. An efficient service that replaces old credit cards will foster consumer loyalty and confidence in the company. All services need to be underpinned by clearly defined and efficient processes. This will avoid confusion and promote a consistent service. In other words processes mean that everybody knows what to do and how to do it.
Physical Evidence (Physical Environment)
Physical evidence is about where the service is being delivered from. It is particularly relevant to retailers operating out of shops. This element of the marketing mix will distinguish a company from its competitors. Physical evidence can be used to charge a premium price for a service and establish a positive experience. For example all hotels provide a bed to sleep on but one of the things affecting the price charged, is the condition of the room (physical evidence) holding the bed. Customers will make judgments about the organisation based on the physical evidence. For example if you walk into a restaurant you expect a clean and friendly environment, if the restaurant is smelly or dirty, customers are likely to walk out. This is before they have even received the service.
The Service Marketing Mix involves Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence. Firms marketing a service need to get each of these elements correct. The marketing mix for a service has additional elements because the characteristics of a service are different to the characteristics of a product. The Characteristics of a service are:
To certain extent managing services are more complicated then managing products, products can be standardised, to standardise a service is more difficult as there it can be affected by factors outside the service providers control.