The service consumption industry is usually full of personal interaction of the service employees and the consumer. According to Giannakis, et al. (2015), there has been a lot of focus on the behaviour or the service employees and does not look so much in to the roles of the consumer during the process of the service relationship. Even when the interaction might consist of the receptionist brief greeting to the visitor or entails the personalized attention of the manager during the signing of a booking contract, the moment the exchange of words between the two parties begins, they automatically become involved in the consumption of service and becomes a very important part of the service process (Cateora, et al., 2012). According to Gummesson, et al. (2014), personal interaction between the consumer and the provider of the service is usually termed as the ‘service encounter’ in the service and relationship marketing. Such factor should be able to address how the customer expects to be treated and also looks at how employees should behave while creating relationships.
Significance of service encounters and managerial implications
In the hotel industry, whenever a consumer requests for any kind of service, be it booking a room of ordering for a meal; they would like to do this freely and make their own judgment. They will also avoid interacting with a sales marketing person. Another customer may welcome a marketing person advance toward him or her and allow them to take an active part in helping them to decide (Feinberg, et al., 2012). The service and relationship marketing research has most of the time focused so much on the market of the sales person (Gummesson, et al., 2014). In this regard, the experience of the customer, including encountering with the staff, is usually not viewed as in social and interactive relationship process. It is thus important to understand the significance of service encounters and the managerial implications it has in the service industry such as the hotel business.
High Context Communication and Low Context Communication
As businesses continue to become global, communication plays a very high role in relationships that the hotel business will create with their customers. The model which was first used by Edward Hall (Giannakis, et al., 2015), are important in discussing different cultures between societies that also play a big part in the service and relationship marketing. It looks at how much the sales person or the employee will rely on things than words to convey meaning. For example, the communication between the customer and the employee might face many sensory cues which may not all be processed (Hawkins & Mothersbaugh, 2012).
In this process, the customer will only focus on what his culture may deem important and ignore other factors. For example, in the hotel business, the customer might be much more concerned about the warmth of the hotel rooms more than the comfort of the bed if one comes from a hot climate (Churchill & Iacobucci, 2004). However, those culture that favour low context communication, will be much more concerned with what the marketer is offering than what they can see or feel physically. It is thus important for a marketer to understand different culture so as to know the kind of relationship marketing strategy to use.
According to Underhill (2008), sales theory and practice are all but one thing. According to the theory, ideas and transactions in the relationship marketing should be able to grow in to lasting relationship (Levy, et al., 2013). In this regard, the employee needs to consider the customer as being part of the company and the management of the hotel should be seen to put this in to practices. The sales theory argues that in service and relationship marketing, the focus is not only in selling the product and making profits. It is also about building a lasting relationship that is based on loyalty, integrity, trust and mutual benefit. There should therefore be a connection between sales theory and implementation so as to building a relationship of mutual gain (Macarthy, 2013).
When it comes to quality in service and relationship marketing, it is important for the hotel management to realize the importance of the customer. It is also import to know how much he is the determinant of the type of product and quality of service in offer (Giannakis, et al., 2015). In addition, modern companies are made of huge networks, some of which are multinationals. This means that the quality of one branch of the company is bound to affect all the other departments, and not just the spotted department or the consumer of the service. For this reason, the company will have to invest much on marketing research so as to discover what customer desire and ways to introduce to the list of services (Underhill, 2008).
Standardization vs. customization
For any service industry, standardization and customization is important. This is because people expect the same level of quality of a particular product wherever they go around the world. According to Gummesson, et al. (2014), standardization will provide a positive perception of consumers toward the product. If the hotel will enjoy strong identity of their brand with regard to its reputation, a standardized approach will be beneficial to the company. If the hotel has created a good relationship with its employees, then a positive word of mouth will increase its sales around the world (Feinberg, et al., 2012). There will also be reduction of costs of marketing which gives the industry economies of scale. By having a large number of visitors in the hotel, will reduce the cost of amenities. The other advantages are also in the economies of scales with regard to the operational costs, marketing research and development and the reduced cost of investment. Standardization is also a great strategy when it comes to trade barriers, it also helps companies focus on a unique marketing mix of a particular product; this is important for improvement of quality.
Fail / Wait
It is only the consumer who determines whether the business is bound to fail, or more efforts should be put to improve services. Consumers are the ones who will evaluate the overall quality with regard to tangibles, responsiveness, reliability, empathy and assurance. Most service and relationship marketing fail because the management focus most on customer approach tactics than strategies (Hawkins & Mothersbaugh, 2012). This makes positive outcomes difficult to achieve since tactics do not look at the long term impression of the customer and employee or hotel relationship.
Strategies to improve quality
The first place to begin is to choose a different relationship marketing strategy from other competitors. According to Levy, et al. (2013), marketers set themselves to fail when they rely on strategies that are the same as everyone else’s. It is important to make the customer see something different in your approach from the other businesses. It is also important to differentiate the marketing team from the corporate team. In most cases, companies would rather give orders to the marketing team instead of looking at them as a singular most important department in the organization (Giannakis, et al., 2015). Strategies used in the corporate department should be differentiated from those used in the marketing department. Thirdly, the management needs to realize the role of the customer in building relationships, they need to treat the customer as part of the team and not merely someone seeking their service. The basic reason for this is to create a lasting relationship between the business and the customer. All the above are vital in improving quality since they will improve responsiveness, assurance and empathy that are important in marketing relationship.
When it comes to physical services, it will entail the customer’s presence; this will help them evaluate the services before they agree to consume.
Services escapes and physical evidence
With regard to physical evidence, it is important for the marketer to develop physical evidence and be able to implement the said evidence. This is because physical evidence is a material part of the service. The physical environment will look at the space the customer is surrounded when consuming the service. For the hotel industry, this will be the restaurant or the room (Cateora, et al., 2012). The evidence should be made up of all the things that a customer would desire to see or experience while at the hotel.
In conclusion there is needs to be a clear understanding of the roles that the marketer and the customer perform in service and relationship marketing. This is because it is not only about consumers expect from marketers, but also expectations that these consumers have for themselves during the service delivery process. This means that consumers are an active part of service experience.
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