Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy

K. Narasimhan (Learning and Teaching Fellow, Bolton Institute, UK)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




Narasimhan, K. (2004), "Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 343-344.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Keywords Services marketing, Marketing strategy, Teaching

This revised edition of the book comprises of 15 chapters grouped into four parts. Part I contains three chapters and the rest contain four chapters each. The chapters are well supported with 90 figures, 40 tables, 64 vignettes (management memos, service perspectives, research insights and business practices in actions), and over 500 endnotes, which are sources referred to in the chapters. Each of the four parts concludes with two readings drawn from recent issues of international journals such as the Harvard Business Review and Journal of Service Research. The chapters are also well supported by review questions and application exercises. Popular cartoons are used, occasionally, to emphasize some points.

The book also features 15 up‐to‐date, classroom‐tested case studies (12 of the cases are new to this edition) of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. The authors have clearly differentiated between marketing services and marketing of the goods through service, which has become a new approach in gaining a competitive advantage in this era of globalization. The book is well supported by new and improved teaching resources (for example, 280 PowerPoint slides, advice on case teaching and case‐teaching notes, suggestion for papers and case study projects to get students to work through concepts) at

In the introductory chapter of Part I, the importance of the service sector in a nation's economy and the differences between physical goods and services and how they impact on the way they are marketed; the need to integrate the primary functions of marketing, operations, and human resource management are covered. In chapter 2 consumer behavior in service encounters, the role of the customer in a service operation, the relationship between customer contact and service encounter, the impact of such a relationship on customer satisfaction, customer behavior, and strategies for achieving quality and productivity improvements are explored. The topic of positioning services by understanding customers and focusing on key segments in competitive markets is covered in chapter 3.

Key elements of services marketing are covered in Part II. Chapter 4 deals with the service products: the method of creating one by bundling a variety of supplementary services around the core product, approaches to use, and the role of branding. Chapter 5 explores the nature of marketing communication, the various elements of the communication mix, their strengths and weaknesses, the effect of the level of customer contact and the value of the Internet as a communication channel. Pricing and revenue management issues are reviewed in chapter 6, and some guidelines on developing effective pricing strategies are put forward. Chapter 7 is titled Distributing Services and contains a discussion of the role played by flow of information and promotion material, negotiation, and the development of a network of local sites in local and global service marketing strategy.

Part III deals with how to manage the service delivery process. Chapter 8 covers designing and managing services processes and clarifies the role of customers in service delivery, with the aid of blueprinting, to improve both quality and productivity. How to deal with difficult customers is also briefly explained. Capacity management in service and the role of waiting lines or queues are the topics of chapter 9. Those interested in the models and formulae of waiting lines should refer to specialist books, as these are not covered in this book. In the following chapter, service dimensions (for example, exterior and interior facilities, the layouts, displays, music, scent, color and, of course, the people) that shape customers' perception of the service rendered are explained succinctly. The final chapter in this part focuses on human resource issues concerned with the front line staff, whose performance is a key determinant of customer satisfaction and their loyalty.

Implementing services marketing is the theme of Part IV. How loyal customers are the key to profitability of service firms is first explained in chapter 12, and then the attention is turned to explaining how to manage relationships to build loyalty. Finally, the role of customer relationship management systems in delivering customized services is briefly explained. In chapter 13, the importance of identifying the nature of customer complaints, handling those complaints and resolving problems, when service failures occur, are dealt with in some depth. Also covered are ideas for making it easy for customers to give constructive feedback. Chapter 14 is devoted to a brief treatment of the important issue of improving service quality and productivity. The original 5‐gap model of SERVQUAL survey research instrument has been extended to identify seven types of gaps that can occur at various points from the design of services to their delivery. The final chapter deals with the most important topic of leading a market‐oriented service business, by coordinating and integrating the three key functions of marketing, operations and human resource management.

The book is in its fifth edition and has undergone comprehensive changes. The content links research findings to managerial practice in a range of industries including hospitality industry, health services, public and private organizations. Important concepts and theoretical constructs and their practical application to management are clearly explained. Parts I and III can also be used to teach Service Operations Management. The exceptionally up‐to‐date selection of case studies (most post 2002), is an asset.

The two authors have a combined publication of over 100 articles and 30 books. Christopher Lovelock is one of the pioneers of service management, in general, and service marketing, in particular. He has a distinguishing academic record: 11 years at Harvard Business School, and has served at other prestigious institutions such as IMD in Switzerland, Sloan School at MIT. He is also a principal of the consultancy firm Lovelock Associates. Jochen Wirtz is an associate professor at the National University of Singapore and has been active as a management consultant. Both authors serve on the editorial review boards of a number of international journals, and are distinguished teacher who have won teaching awards.

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