Improving Customer Services Levels in Services Industries
Customer Services: According to Kotler (2002: 444), services can be defined as any act or performance that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Edoga (1998) defined it as any activity, benefit, or satisfactions that is offer for sales, it is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownerships of anything.
Russ et al (1999): which emphasis that a service is the performance of an activity intended to satisfy certain needs of buyers.
In the words of Kotler, what a company offers to the market place often includes some services. The service component, he says rather can be minor or a major part of the total offer. In the regard, he classifies the offer into five reasons as follows;
- Pure intangible goods: That is primarily consisting of physical goods.
- Tangible goods with a company services.
- Hybrid: That is the offer consists of equal parts of goods and services.
- Major services with accompanying minor goods and services.
- Pure services: That is the offer consists primarily of services.
Analytically, this classification is based on the relationship between goods and services and differs with the one made by Bovee (1992:697). He classified services according to various based such as:
i. On the basis of the firm’s profit objective in which case services can be classified as
a) profit – based services
b) non profit based services
while profit based services mean those services that are rendered by firms/organisation with profit motive. Whole items of trade includes services, non profit based services are those that are rendered mainly by clarify organisations.
i. on the basis of the type of customers being serviced hare, services can be grouped as
a) consumer services
b) organisation services
ii. On the basis of labour and equipment needs have services are grouped as
a) Labour based services
b) Equipment based services
This classification agrees with that of Masiter (1982: 15) who also emphasized that services can be grouped as either people based or equipment based. People or labour based customers services includes those services rendered by saloon operators, doctors and child care centers. In this case, the quality of service rendered depends on the level of skill of the person rendering it. On the other hand, equipment based service includes the likes of dry cleaning, transportation, telecommunication, computer firms etc. Unlike the people based, the level of quality of services have depends on the conditions of equipment in use.
iv) On the bases of degree of customization: This includes
a) High degree of customization
b) Low degree of customization
This grouping depicts the level at which services can be tailored to the specifies of individual demand Adirka (1996: 344) a, services with low degree of customers contact means that it may not easily be watched with customers needs, and the one with high degree means that such can be easily matched with customers needs. Examples of the later, medical and legal services, while that of the former are transportation and broad casting.
v) On the basis of skill level: This will include
a) professional/skilled services
b) non professional/unskilled services or which among these varied classification suits our case study? Looking at Ibeto photographic colour laboratory, we can see that the firm is in the image industry washes and prints colour pictures for professional services. Also to provide the needed high level of printing quality it needs modern equipment based services provider.
As a business organisation, the firm’s main objective is to maximize profit so as to remain in business. In line with this objective, Ibeto can be regarded as being providing profit – based services. However, Ibeto services both individual customers and organisations. This shows that there is no clear cut distinction on whether it is a consumer services provide or an organisations services provider. Finally, the quality and satisfaction bought by the trail user is indirectly provided by the firm. While a photographer who deals with the company directly appreciates a quality output, the owners of the photographers are at the other and may or ma not have the same amount of satisfaction/appreciation. This makes Ibeto a low customers contact services provider.
The inter –wovennes illustrated above proves that the classifications made by the authors are not independence on their own. As has been seen, a service may cut across the various modes of classification.
NATURE AND SCOPE OF THE SERVICES INDUSTRIES
A services may have varied meanings to different people if not linked to a particular sector. For instance, the meaning of service will depend on whether it is being offered for profit motive or for clarity. Equally, it supports a physical product or exists on its own as object of exchange. Adrika (1996: 341).
Generally, however Kotler (1998: 467) defined a service as any act or performance that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. This definition holds two major features of services that is intangibility and non transfer of ownership. Also, it should b pointed out that the definition been the fact that the production of any service may or may not be tied to a physical product. looking at other definitions like that of Edoga and Russ (1998); the nature of service can be expounded. Edoga’s definition indeed, is based on the one characteristic of service to her. A service can be seen as any activity, benefits or satisfaction that is offered for sale. She goes further to reiterate that a service is essentially intangible and non-ownership transferable. This latter definition resembles the one given by Russ et al (1999) which emphasis that a services is the performance of an activity intended to satisfy certain needs of buyers.
While Kotler’s definition is more generalized and does not sectaries services, others like an aspect referred to a business services.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SERVICES
In trying to distinguish industrial services from physical products, Power (1991: 242) emphasizes that a common way to examine services challenges is through the breakdown of services based on intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity and perihability. These factors constitute major characteristics differentiating services from other forms of business activities. they all effect both the management and the marketing promotion of a services.
Generally, the main features of services have been recognized as follows:
1. Intangibility: As an intangible output, services are actives rather than objects and cannot be seen, felt, tasted or touched before they are purchased (Reibstain, 1985: 608). Kotler (1998: 488) equally has it that when a service is competed, the customer is not left with a tangible product but rather with feelings. What this simply means is that a service does not take the form of a physical good and is this hard to describe and visualize.
2. Inseparability: This feature is described by Kotler as a situation where the service provider cannot be separated from the service he provides. In other words, the provider is seen as being part of the service. To highlight this point, William (1963: 57) maintains that most services are produced and consumed the same time.
3. Heterogeneity: Because services depend on who provide them and when and where they are provided, services are highly variables (Kotler, 1998: 470). For this reason, the quality of service can vary from one producer to another. In our case study, for Instance, a coloured photograph washed by Ibeto will definitely be of different quality with that of Kodak or that of filbom.
4. Perishabiltiy: Besson et al (1975: 137) in their article ‘services retaining” state that services cannot be saved, services cannot be stored. The reason here is that most services are consumed at the point of production and this have very short life. Adirika (1996: 344).
IMPORTANCE OF SERVICES TO THE ECONOMY
Based on the classification of services done by several authors, one can be forced to believe that services are indispensable part of both national economics and the global economy itself. Services are rendered in every facet of human endeavor. They cut across business services, public or government services, personal services, non government/non-profit services. Services are rendered as part of tangible product offering and separate business concerns. That is, what experts described as core services and business services.
Consequently, services occupations have dominated the spectrum of Nigeria business. They have created jobs and have grown over the years for the simple reasons that they are flexible to start and copy. For instance, young school levers can easily learn the practices of hair dressing, photographing, mechanics, dry clearing, retail services, commercial driving, etc. All these are services that are abound in this country. In addition to other major service based firms like banks, insurance firms, big time transporters, consultants, hospitals and other professionals like lawyers, the country’s service sector engages over to 70 percent of working population. This is a very mean contribution to the economy. However the output of the sector goes to add largely to the nations gross domestic product (GDP).
Going by the growing pattern of the nation’s population, it ought to have been disastrous without absorbing sectors like the service sector. The growth of the sector also owe up to the fact that goods required services are increasingly being introduced in the country.
DEFINITION OF THE ELEMENTS OF CUSTOMERS SERVICES
The first step in the development of customer service programme is the definition of the elements involved in the proposed programme. In line with these, several elements have been identified that represent a wide spectrum of areas that can positively influence the customers. Integrating the suggestions of various authors, they include:
- The availability of the service item.
- After sales services and back up
- Order convenience
- Competent technical assistance.
- Efficient telephone handling of orders and complaints.
- Delivery time
- Demonstration of equipment and
- Availability of published materials
THE PLACE OF CUSTOMER SERVICES
Bovee et al describes customer services, as encompassing “everything a company does to satisfy its customer and to help them realize the greatest possible value from the goods and services they are purchasing” seems to be a very comprehensive one. It points at customers services as a package of ancillary services rendered to the customer during and after purchase. As we can see, the essence of delivery or rending such services is to increase customer satisfaction. That is exactly why Boves (1988: 241) explains that adding customer services to a product/service helps to increase the level of customers satisfaction, both expected customer service should include problem prevention as well as problem resolution.
In the case, all those problem that are capable of rendering customers satisfaction are squarely tackled through customer services do not form part of a product/service package. Rather, as a set of distinctive programme they are meant to complement that performances of the said service or physical product. through it could add to the cost of the service/product being offered. It still has a major important or buyer decision making. in the words of Power (1991: 299) “poor customer service has a direct impact on a customer’s operations and consequently on his or her buying decision.
An easier understanding of the nature and scope of customer service can be derived from what Guildinan and Paul (1982: 272) explains that all those activities that facilitate the sale or enhance the satisfactory were of a firm’s product or service. These, according to them, may include following up on customer complaints, providing maintenance, repair and operating services. Assuring reliable delivery, providing information on inventories and order processing, and providing information on inventories and order processing an providing customer training.
Similarly, Love Laucle and Weinbery (1993: 583) refered to customer service as “a collective term that describes all he supplementary service provided by an organisation to satisfy customers and combat completion in addition to the list of customer service activities, they highlight technical aid, information, order taking, complaint handing, refunds or substitution.
The peculiarity of these definitions is on such silent point like the vast nature of customer service and its applicability in both service delivery and physical products. The question now is how can customer service aid service marketing? In such activities like providing a structural avenue of handling customer complaint, provisions of information, technical aid, order taking and customer training, the job of a service marketer can greatly be enhanced.
However, there is no doubt the deliberate or in deliberate existence of customer service is service – based organisation. As it concerns customers complaint handling, many service firms used to have information till pasted on their office which reads IF YOU ARE NOT SATISFIED TELL US, BUT IF YOU ARE SATISFIED TELL OTHERS. What this means is that the firm already may have set a structure for handling such anticipated complaints. Also, banks and hospitals have opinion boxes right there in therefore halls firm the customer complaints and suggestions. Traveling agencies have information bulletin on the various flight schedule as well as on the national and international airways.
Ibeto photographic colour laboratory has traces of customer services options. The firms offer technical aids on camera models and usage’s complaints through a direct channel of manager – customer relationship, and render information on the charges or inventories in the photo industry. All these are seemed instances of the existence of customer services in service firms.
—This article is not complete———–This article is not complete————
This article was extracted from a Project Research Work/Material Topic
“IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICES LEVELS IN SERVICES INDUSTRIES, THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF THE MARKETING CONCEPT
(A CASE STUDY OF IBETO PHOTOGRAPHIC COLOUR LABORATORY ENUGU).”