I often compare myself with Box Owners who confuse marketing with sales without realizing that the latter is a consequence of the work done with the former. It makes no sense to sell subscriptions to a service if it has not been defined before and with it also the methods of delivery.
On the other hand we know that a Box offers services and not products and therefore marketing for the latter is not the most suitable method to formulate an offer and customer experience capable of retaining it.
Paradoxically, the problem of a lot of Box is not selling subscriptions but keeping customers for a long time and this is a clear signal that upstream marketing and the creation of a service that reflects users’ needs is the real key. Everyone can make price policies that temporarily create cash flow but the difficulty is then to keep them. This is where service marketing comes into play.
It is useful to remember that the fundamental difference between a product and a service is that, while a product refers to the supply of a material good, an object, selling a service means performing a service.
Over time, a branch of marketing has developed specifically for companies that produce services, which uses the normal techniques designed for modified material products supplemented by specific tools adapted to services.
The fundamental elements that differentiate a service from a product are:
The service is not tangible
It is more difficult to sell something that the customer cannot touch and possess: in fact he is asked to pay in exchange not for an asset, but for the promise that the service will be carried out according to his own expectations.
Production and delivery are often united
In many cases the customer participates in the production of the service or collaborating with the service provider, as in the case of a Box.
It is obvious that direct contact is necessary, which implies that the behavior of the service provider becomes significant. For example, if you buy a TV, the attendant is smiling while building it is irrelevant but if you buy a subscription, the courtesy of the attendant is essential for the customer’s perception of quality.
The service does not exist before delivery
Faced with a potential skeptical or suspicious customer, it is difficult to be able to demonstrate the quality of something that does not yet exist and will exist only after the customer has signed the service supply contract. This fact makes the company’s ability to reassure the potential customer very important.
The service is not stored
Almost all the goods have seasonality in sales and the seasonality also applies to services, with more changes in consumption even by time slot or depending on the day of the week. However the services that are performed when the customer requests them cannot by definition be stored. This constraint requires the Box to have a difficult choice: either to accept queues at peak periods and therefore to manage bad quality in the customer or risk oversizing the structure with the consequent negative impact on the entity of costs.
The peculiarities in the management of the service impose therefore not to replace with others the valid rules for the marketing of the material products (which remain valid), but to integrate them, putting the accent on some particularly significant aspects that are:
While the concept of standard quality, which is the same for everyone, is more than adequate for material products, many services require management of the quality perceived by the individual customer, with whom the relationship is direct and specific.
Supplier / customer interaction
Often the relationship between the service employee and the customer is personal, and requires the employee the ability to master, in addition to technical competence, also the capacity for human relationships. This aspect becomes particularly relevant when there are inconveniences and organizational shortcomings, which can be more or less easily accepted by the client depending on the type of personal relationship established.
Image of the supplier
The customer usually signs the supply contract, or commits himself to the purchase, before having tried the service, trusting on the basis of the image of quality and reliability of the supplier, which must be established and maintained with the utmost care.
All these aspects contribute to creating the service and everything around it and to facilitate both the sale but above all the customer loyalty.