Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus Across the Firm

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

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 1 October 2004

Issue publication date: 1 October 2004



Narasimhan, K. (2004), "Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus Across the Firm", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 436-437.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The two authors have over 30 years of combined experience and published over 100 articles in leading journals. Valarie A. Zeithaml has written four monographs and four books including one on Delivering Quality Service. Valarie has been a research partner with Parasuraman and Leonard Berry in developing the “gaps model” of service quality, around which the text is structured. Both authors have consulted and presented seminars and workshops for a number of businesses and cross‐industry groups in services, information technology, engineering, etc.

This book comprises an introductory chapter and 17 other chapters grouped into six parts. The chapters are well supported with over 100 figures, 23 tables, 70 vignettes (management memos, service perspectives, research insights, global features and technology spotlights and over 600 endnotes, which are sources referred to in the chapters. The chapters are also well supported by discussion questions and review exercises. The book also features eight up‐to‐date case studies. The authors use an active learning approach and an Instructor's manual and PowerPoint slides on a CD‐ROM are available.

Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to Services and delivering quality services consistently, and briefly describes the three themes of marketing mix for services, customer focus, and the gaps model of service quality. Part One comprises three chapters, in which an overview of different components of the gaps model is given. The three chapters, respectively, deal with consumer behavior in services, customer expectations, and perceptions, of service.

Part Two also comprises three chapters, which revolve around the minimizing customer expectations gap that is termed Provider Gap 1 (the difference between service expected by customers and an organization's perceptions of those expectations). The chapters, respectively, inform how to understand customers' expectations and perceptions through various marketing research strategies; how to build strong customer relationships by understanding customer needs over time; and the recovery strategies available and how to implement them when things go wrong.

Provider Gap 2 (the difference between the organization's understanding of customer expectations and development of customer‐driven designs and standards) forms the theme of Part Three, which comprises three Chapters. First, the tools that are most effective in service development and design are covered in Chapter 8, followed by an explanation of how to develop customer‐defined service standards in Chapter 9, and finally, in Chapter 10, they explore the topic of effectively designing physical evidence. They conclude the chapter with a discussion of four approaches for understanding servicescapes (the physical surroundings or the facility where the service is produced, delivered and consumed).

Part Four comprises four chapters and deals with Provider Gap 3 (the discrepancy between development of customer‐driven service standards and the actual service delivery). The roles of employees and customers in delivering services are explored in the first two chapters. This is followed by consideration of issues related to delivering service through intermediaries such as franchisees, agents and brokers; and benefits of providing service through electronic channels and challenges faced. The final chapter of this part is devoted strategies for managing capacity and demand, yield management, and waiting line strategies.

Managing service promises is the theme of Part Five. The two issues concerned with Provider Gap 4 (the difference between service delivery and service provider's external communication), marketing communication and pricing of services are, respectively, dealt within separate chapters. The importance of coordinating external, interactive, and internal marketing communication and the four sets of strategies (managing service promises, customer expectations, and internal marketing communication, and improving customer education) in consistently exceeding customer expectations and avoid problems that arise are covered in the first chapter. In the second chapter, the differences between customer evaluation of pricing of services and goods are discussed first and then strategies are suggested to match four value definitions.

In the final part, which comprises two chapters, the information from the previous parts are integrated to answer how to close all the gaps. First the relationship between service and profitability is explored; this is followed by a very brief discussion of the balanced performance scorecard approach to measuring corporate performance. The final chapter gives an overview of all the four gaps covered in the previous parts.

Related articles