Conceptual services marketing framework for a segmented business to achieve maximum customer value
Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
Relationship marketing is still in its infancy as a mainstream marketing concept, although it has established itself as an underlying paradigm in modern services marketing. Its importance is recognised to a growing extent with a call for organisations to move from a short-term transactional approach to a long-term relationship one (Kotler, 1992; Grönroos, 1994). From the interviews, it is clear that the directors support the findings in respect of the literature review that service marketing should be centred on the key concept that quality should form an integrated component of every step of the development and delivery of a service bundle and should be based on long-term customer relationship development. From the literature review, and with specific reference to the seven P’s marketing mix and relationship marketing approach, it can be delineated that service marketing practices are the combination of service-bundle development, pricing, process, promotion, place, people, physical evidence and the management of the relationship with the customer through the various relationship marketing practices. This conceptual framework will enable the Firm to categorise its marketing objectives and also to provide a clear description of how the marketing objectives identified will be achieved within a stated timeframe. Therefore, quality within the conceptual framework of marketing is measured through the perception of the customer primarily during two occurrences. The first is during any contact session between the customer and service provider or with one or more of the service provider’s employees and the second is when the service bundle is utilised. In the first instance referred to above, customer contact sessions provide the service provider with the opportunity to engage the customer by way of an interactive process in a social context, thus enhancing social bonds through relationship marketing. It has been accepted in the marketing industry that the relationship component is firmly underpinned by mutual trust. Where a service provider maintains strong trust relations with their customers, the relationships involved generally culminate both in the retention of the customer and in long-term profitability. The second determinant of service-bundle quality (product quality) requires from the service provider the skill and ability not only to develop a service bundle that meets the quality expectation of the customer, but which further extends to the ability of the service provider to ensure the recruitment of employees with the appropriate interpersonal skills, aptitude and service knowledge and to provide them with continuous training, leadership, coaching, development programmes and communication to ensure that they retain the skills and expertise to develop a professional service-bundle offering that meets the customers’ expectations. Consumers make judgements and deliver perceptions of the service provided based on that which is provided by those employees with whom they interact. Consequently, employees drive service value which, in turn, drives customer satisfaction and loyalty, resulting in increased revenue and profit (Hanna & Newman, 2007). It is, therefore, submitted that relationship marketing and quality control in development of the various service bundles by the professional service provider are essential if the Firm wants to obtain a form of competitive advantage over its competitors.