Magazine article Marketing

Why Marketers Lag Behind in the Shift to Service

Magazine article Marketing

Why Marketers Lag Behind in the Shift to Service

Article excerpt

The emphasis in today's markets on the delivery of the idea is a reflection of deeper shifts in society, particularly a greater recognition of the individual and that it is the utility of the purchase, not possession, which is the dominant motivation. Car manufacturers, for instance, can no longer simply 'sell' a tin box, but must cultivate a relationship over the experience in use, for it is this which gives satisfaction and, crucially, determines future purchases.

This shift to service is nothing short of a revolution. Yet far from being in the forefront, marketers have been strangely silent, using techniques more suited to the product-based 50s and 60s. Instead, the lead has been taken by operational people, who have often felt, with considerable justification, that marketing was not talking about the key issues of service.

In a service, operations are the key to market success. It is only here that plans become a reality - the 'moment of truth', when individuals face each other in the customer experience. Success in this will not be just the result of quality control at the factory or packaging, but the outcome of a culture which sees customer expectations as the focus, customer experiences as the judgement.

To take an example, the brilliantly successful Southwest Airlines in the US, owes its sustained success (25 years of continuous profit at a time when all the other airlines have contrived to lose all of the profit ever generated in the history of commercial flying, at the same time winning more customer satisfaction awards than any competitor) not simply to cheapness but to a real understanding of what it is customers see as value - low fares, reliability and recognition as individuals - and then delivering this, consistently. …

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