Service Marketing – Customer behaviour, culture and service encounters
Question 1: Identify two credence services and discuss strategies for gaining customer confidence.
Credence Services are basically services whose utility impact cannot be conveniently determined by the customer. Even after exhausting such a service, the customer is still unable to ascertain the utility loss or gain of a credence service. The utility impact or consumer satisfaction is only known by the provider of the service. Even when the there is a visible success in service performance and procedures, consumers of these services are unable to determine the extent to which the service was needed or to what degree it was performed. Credence services most often exhibit a proportional or direct relationship between price and demand.
Two examples of credence services are:
- Electrical appliance repair services
- Car repair services
Strategies of gaining customer confidence
By being honest and straight forward:
One significant key to building customer confidence as well as trust is by being completely straight forward and honest. Developing or using messages that inculcate miles of extensively fine print, too many words and disclaimers is in most times a no go area. Your services marketing and advertising campaign should highlight your services in a simple and plain fashion. There is usually increased trust and confidence in a customer when they see an ad and discover that its details are in direct alignment with the services rendered. This proves integrity, and more than often has been known to enhance customer loyalty.
Highlight Professional Accomplishments:
This strategy for boosting customer trust and confidence can be achieved via the use of certificates or awards. If you firm has been in recent times or the past been awarded certificates or has been recognised by a professional body such as the local chamber of commerce, the better business bureau, or any other frontier organisation within and outside your community, then it is important that they are exhibited. These awards and certifications should be displayed where customers can see them. They could be framed and hung on the walls of your office, or posted in strategic areas of the company’s website, included in business and job cards. This sort of strategic action shows the customer you are good at what you do.
Testimonials are another significant strategy for building customer confidence in your organisation and service. Customers are intrigued by success stories and tend to compare these success stories to their very own lives. Customer confidence is built and enhanced when they the can relate with a firms successes. There are a variety of creative methods via which customer confidence can be fostered through the utilization of testimonials. Video testimonials on your website has been known to be very effective, printing of quotes or positive feedback by other customers sure does aid in building customer confidence.
Guarantees tell the customer that you are certain of the positive impact of the services you tend to provide, but if they are not satisfied then they would get their money back. This statement enhances customer confidence, it gives you leverage because a customer has been guaranteed that if they are not pleased with the work it could be re-done or they get their money back. Standing by your word is an important factor of this customer confidence strategy.
Question 2: Discuss how and why cultural differences may affect perceptions of service and give examples.
Cultural differences illustrates the vast variations in the manner or way of life, traditions values as well as beliefs, laws and moral conduct between a cross section of nations, religions, societies and people. Many individuals believe and denote culture as an all-encompassing illustration or overview of a relatively large sect of persons and in what manners, ways and extent to which their life styles differ. This is where the notion of cultural differences is established.
Cultural differences may and can really give particularly negative impressions about an individual, their service and their organisation when interacting with a customer from a different part of the world, from a culture or an ethnic group that completely differs from yours. This situation and circumstances occur because culture is deemed as a set of traditions, values and assumptions built over time. This results in the fact that individuals from an entirely different culture from yours may tend and do have the tendency to misinterpret or misunderstand your character in ways and manners that have not occurred to you in the past.
A typical example cultural differences and its effect on customer service perception could be further explained using the “Power distance” factor. Power distance is the degree of inequality which is considered normal to the people of a particular society. In a high power distance nation, people have learnt to understand and accepted their positions in the hierarchical strata of society, whereas in a low power distance culture, power is evenly spread and well dispersed. Power distance is essential in customer service orientation because an individual from a high power culture believes the customer is king and expects to be treated as such. Conflicts may arise in a situation where an individual from a low power distance culture, who believes every individual is equal, services an individual from a high power nation who is perception of service is that of royalty.
The way a society views gender status may equally play a significant role in perception of customer service expectations. In certain societies and cultures male dominance is established and in others gender equality is profound. Taking two relatively similar but contrasting scenarios as a basis for our examples, the first a customer service representative who is from a cultural setting where there is gender equality and is servicing a male customer who hails from a society that believe in male dominance. The CSR’s friendly behaviour may seem disrespectful and inappropriate to the male customer. Our second scenario, a male CSR who comes from a culture of male dominance who is servicing a lady who believes in gender equality and probably is not pleased with an aspect of a service and tries to convey her feeling to the CSR, conflict might arise because the CSR might believe the lady has no right to talk to him in a certain manner.
Another example is the uncertainty avoidance factor. Deemed as the degree to which individuals of a society prefer and accept unstructured over structured situations. An individual from a culture attributed to have weak uncertainty avoidance are depicted as more relaxed and believe in practical solutions. Customers from high uncertainty avoidance cultures are expected to show emotions and at certain times may be very aggressive. This could lead to confusing situations, if a customer service rep tries to service an individual from the other scale of dimension. One of these individuals is likely to perceive the other as too aggressive, too loud or too emotional.
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