In marketing concepts, services are products which require high consumer involvement in the consumption process. In the buyer and seller interactions, during the simultaneous parts of production and consumption, the consumer usually will find a lot of resources and activities to notice and evaluate. As an example we could think of an airline company or a provider of conference services. Hence, the customer’s experience of a service can be expected to influence his post consumption evaluation of the service quality which he has experienced.
We can assume the reasonable to state that the perceived quality of a given service will be the outcome of an evaluation process, where the consumer compares his expectations with the service he perceives he has received. The result of this process will be the perceived quality of the service.
Usually, service can be influenced by promise which is creating expectations of the customers and have an impact on the expected service. In promotion mix, advertising can be used in order to give promises to target customers. The perceived service, on the other hand, is the result of the consumer’s perception of the service itself. And we should turn to the issue of how the service is perceived. According to Swan and Comb, the perceived performance of a product can be divided into two sub-processes, namely, instrumental performance and expressive performance. In empirical tests of these concepts and their impact on customer’s satisfaction, made by these two researches and by others, mostly consumer goods have been considered. The tests and the results of them are, however, of considerable theoretical relevance to services too.
The service is basically immaterial and can be characterized as an activity where production and consumption to a considerable extent take place simultaneously. In the buyer-seller interactions the service is rendered to the consumer. Clearly, what happens in these interactions will have an impact on the perceived service. The hotel guest will get a room and a bed to sleep in, the customer of restaurants services will get a meal and the client of a business consultant may get a new organization scheme. This technical outcome of the process is important to him and his evaluation of the quality of the service. The accessibility of a teller machine, a restaurant or a business consultant behavior also can impact the customer’s view of the service. The consumer is not only interested in what he receives as an outcome of the production process, but in the process itself.
The perceived service is the result of a consumer view of a bundle of service dimensions, some of which are technical and some of which are functional in nature. When this perceived service is compared with the expected service, we get the perceived service quality. This schematically illustrated in this picture below.
source: European Journal of Marketing
by Christian Gronroos
by Christian Gronroos
The corporate image is the result of how the consumer perceives the firms. Usually, a service firm cannot hide behind brand names or distributors. In most cases the consumers will be able to see the firm and its resources during buyer-seller interaction. The expectations of the consumers are influenced by their view of the company.
When a service firm wants to inform new target markets about its image, traditional marketing activities like image advertising can be the most effective means of doing so. Moreover, if customers in an existing market, for some reason or another, have an image of the firm which does not correspond with reality, traditional marketing activities can again be expected to be an effective way to communicating the real image to the market. However, the image may be also a quality dimension. If consumer believes that he goes to a good restaurant and the meal, for instance, is not perfect, or the behavior of the waiter is irritating, he may still find the perceived service satisfactory. His positive image of the restaurant makes him find excuses for his negative experiences. Obviously, if he is disappointed many times, his image of the restaurant will deteriorate.
So, we may conclude that successful service management mean that attention to improving the functional quality of firm’s services, managing the buyer-seller interaction and also create a powerful marketing function such as interactive marketing. Managing the perceived service quality means that the firm has to match the expected service and the perceived service to each other, to make sure that consumer satisfaction is achieved. There are two things seem to be critical to the service firm in order to keep gap between the expected service and perceived service as small as possible:
1. The promises about how the service will perform given by traditional marketing activities and communicated by word-of-mouth must not be unrealistic when compared to the service the consumer eventually will perceive.
2. Managers have to understand how the technical quality and the functional quality of a service is influenced and how these quality dimensions are perceived by the consumers.