This paper aims to emphasize a research priority on the understanding of service products and how services can be productized. Furthermore, it provides perspectives on the contribution of service research to management practice and who should be the main target audience of service research.
This paper is based on the personal reflections of an author of two leading services marketing textbooks.
This paper develops three propositions related to service research. First, it advances that academic service research has neglected the important topic of productizing services and that service products should be treated as concrete units of deliverables to customers rather than something fuzzy of unspecified quantity. That is, service products should be developed, designed, specified, configured, modularized, bundled, tiered, branded, priced sold and delivered to customers. More research is needed on how organizations can do this. Second, this paper argues that academics frequently underestimate the significant contributions service research has made to management practice and details important contributions that originated from the service research community. Third, it is proposed that the main target audience of service research should not be the marketing, sales and service departments. Rather, it should be decision makers (especially C-level executives) across all functions who should develop a service perspective and service mindset.
This paper urges service researchers to focus on what are service products and how firm can create, manage and deliver them. Furthermore, it suggests that service researchers should be more confident and proud of the significant progress and contributions they have made to management practice over the past few decades. Finally, service researchers should tailor their messages for decisions makers of all organizational functions and departments in service organizations.
As a writer of five editions of a services marketing textbook, the author has sifted through three decades of service research. The reflections in this paper originate from this unique perspective.
The author gratefully acknowledges the guidance provided by Mark S. Rosenbaum, co-editor Journal of Services Marketing, and the two reviewers. Furthermore, he is grateful for the feedback and suggestions to earlier of this viewpoint by (in alphabetic order): Martin P. Fritze (Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing and Brand Management, University of Cologne, University of Cologne), Katja Gelbrich (Professor and Head of Department of International Management, Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt), Elina Jaakkola (Professor of Marketing, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku), Lydia Hanks (J. Willard Marriott Sr. Professor in Hospitality, Dedman School of Hospitality Management, Florida State University), Ashish Modak (Regional General Manager, LUX* Belle Mare, LUX* Grand Gaube and LUX* Grand Baie), Smita Modak (Group Training Manager, The Lux Collective), Ron Kaufman (Customer Experience and Service Culture Expert) and Werner Kunz (Professor of Marketing, University of Massachusetts Boston).
Wirtz, J. (2020), "Viewpoint: Service products, development of service knowledge and our community’s target audience", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-03-2020-0086
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