Marketing of Services

In line with the global trends where services form a major chunk of the economies, India, too has witnessed a phenomenal growth in the services sector in the last few years. Till very recently, most of the large services organizations in the country had been operating in a monopolistic environment. With the privatization of a large number of services, the behemoths are encountering the streaks of competition and are waking up to the new market order

The customers are experiencing the joys of transformation of the services sector with important segments like Banking and financial services, Travel and Transport, Health, Entertainment, Telecom and IT services dramatically enhancing the customer value. We have seen the emergence of Convenience Banking, Tele-medicine and web based health care, aggressively priced high profile telecom services and attractive financing schemes which have changed our lives. The Indian marketing whiz kids are grappling with the new market dynamics that services have brought forth and this sector, due to its sheer growth rates, has assumed tremendous importance in the last few years. Though a number of steps have been initiated in this direction, yet there is a lot, which is left to be desired.

Human element is the single most important factor in the services business because of the continuous customer interface. With the explosion of the services companies, the concept of customer care has taken roots in our country but there is still a lot of ground to be covered. There is an urgent need to bring about a customer orientation across the entire spectrum of functions. The companies have to build an effective human resource strategy capable of driving the entire organization towards a common customer oriented corporate vision and only devising catchy slogans and forming customers care cells may not be the right answer. During a recent informal chat, a senior banker working for one of the country’s top banks admitted that his bank had implemented strong centralized systems which had, in fact made banking more tedious for the customers. Interestingly, this bank claims to be the industry leader but what remains to be seen is whether they are the leaders in just systems or the real thing i.e. customer satisfaction. The services companies need to work on strategies revolving around the customers and should set impeccable standards of customer relationship management.

A sudden spurt in the services sector has led to an inadequate availability of trained manpower. Most of the high profile banks have employed young smart looking executives who generally have shallow knowledge and are always seen turning to each other for help which often makes the customers jittery. Most of the services are packaged in the form of a dish, which is extremely well garnished but with a flat taste. The organizations, therefore, need to focus a lot on training to ensure the delivery of high quality of service.

Most of the services also comprise a product, which is an integral part of the service, and it is, therefore, imperative for the companies to focus on the product as much as on the service. A large number of services companies go an extra mile to improve the service quality but often relegate the product to the background. This results in the sub optimal customer value, which ultimately leads to the customer churn. A case in point is that of telecom companies where the service delivery is actually through a device and a small compromise on this front can result in customers shying away from the service provider despite his putting up the best network technologically.

Unlike most of the consumer product categories, where there is no track of the customers buying a particular brand or a product, a mega opportunity for the service companies is the availability of the database of the customers. This acts as an enabler for them to hold on to their valued customer bases and the instant access to these also facilitates the planning and the execution of the brand loyalty programmes. In order to cater to the specific segments of the market, the services companies should do a comprehensive customer profiling on the basis of which a range of such programmes can be planned

Another area where services companies can leverage their expertise is to offer customized solutions to meet the requirements of the varied customer segments. This shall go a long way in building up of a large base of loyal and happy customers. Another edge, which the services companies have, is in the form of the immediate customer feed back. The companies, therefore, need to be more responsive to initiate corrective measures and this factor alone can make them highly successful in their areas of business.

To gain both mind share and the market share, the services companies should devise a coherent strategy, which revolves around the service quality, service content, product offering and the customer relationship management

 
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