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Chapter 2

Consumer Behavior in Service Encounters
Where Does the Customer Fit in a
Service Organization? (Fig. 2.1)
Consumers rarely involved in manufacture of goods but often participate in service creation and
Challenge for service marketers is to understand how customers interact with service operations
Flowcharting clarifies how customer involvement in service encounters varies with type of
process - see Fig. 2-1:
People processing (e.g., motel stay): customer is physically involved throughout entire process
Possession processing (e.g., DVD repair): involvement may be limited to drop off of physical
item/description of problem and subsequent pick up
Mental stimulus processing (e.g., weather forecast): involvement is mental, not physical; here
customer simply receives output and acts on it
Information processing (e.g., health insurance): involvement is mental - specify information
upfront and later receive documentation of coverage
High-Contact and Low-Contact Services
High Contact Services
Customers visit service facility and remain throughout service delivery
Active contact between customers and service personnel
Includes most people-processing services
Low Contact Services
Little or no physical contact with service personnel
Contact usually at arm’s length through electronic or physical distribution channels
New technologies (e.g. Web) help reduce contact levels
Levels of Customer Contact with Service Organizations (Fig. 2.2)
Managing Service Encounters--1
Service encounter: A period of time during which customers interact directly with a service
Moments of truth: Defining points in service delivery where customers interact with employees
or equipment
Critical incidents: specific encounters that result in especially satisfying/dissatisfying outcomes
for either customers or service employees
Managing Service Encounters--2
Service success often rests on performance of junior contact personnel
Must train, coach, role model desired behavior
Thoughtless or badly behaved customers can cause problems for service personnel (and other
Must educate customers, clarify what is expected, manage behavior
The Purchase Process for Services
(Adapted from Fig. 2-3)

2.Prepurchase Stage Awareness of need Information search Evaluation of alternative service suppliers Service Encounter Stage Request service from chosen supplier Service delivery Postpurchase Stage Evaluation of service performance Future intentions Perceived Risks in Purchasing and Using Services (Table 2. and Quality Control Problems Make Services Hard to Evaluate Search attributes – Tangible characteristics that allow customers to evaluate a product before purchase Experience attributes – Characteristics that can be experienced when actually using the service Credence attributes – Characteristics that are difficult to evaluate confidently even after consumption Goods tend to be higher in search attributes.5) .4) Components of Customer Expectations Desired Service Level: wished-for level of service quality that customer believes can and should be delivered Adequate Service Level: minimum acceptable level of service Predicted Service Level: service level that customer believes firm will actually deliver Zone of Tolerance: range within which customers are willing to accept variations in service delivery Intangible Attributes. Variability. delays lead to problems Physical – personal injury. unexpected extra costs Temporal – wasted time. services tend to be higher in experience and credence attributes Credence attributes force customers to trust that desired benefits have been delivered How Product Attributes Affect Ease of Evaluation) (Fig. damage to possessions Psychological – fears and negative emotions Social – how others may think and react Sensory – unwanted impacts to any of five senses Factors that Influence Customer Expectations of Services (Fig. 2.1) Functional – unsatisfactory performance outcomes Financial – monetary loss.

service organizations .web help.customer involvement.service creation.flowcharting.service encounter.Customer Satisfaction is Central to the Marketing Concept Satisfaction defined as attitude-like judgment following a service purchase or series of service interactions Customers have expectations prior to service marketers.service success.service organization.critical incidents.distribution channels.moments of truth.processing services.service operations.customers visit.managing services.consumer forecast.physical distribution.