Sample Marketing Report on Negative Service Encounter

Letter of Transmittal

Nick Briton

65523SA , Queensland, Australia

nickbriton@ake.com

CEO

University of Southern Queensland

670036SA, Queensland, Australia

Dear the CEO University of Southern Queensland, below is the report that you commissioned on the service encounter in the institution.  From the findings, it is clear that there have been service delivery inadequacies in the financial department of the university. It is unfortunate that the experience has occurred not once but frequently.  It has therefore become a concern to the students and any other staff requiring financial services in the university. It is the wish and expectations of every customer to get sound service delivery. After having carried out the extensive pre-purchase process, which convinces them of receiving quality services from the organization they select, they are assured of getting nothing short of the very best. In this encounter, the same case applied but the outcome was below average.

This report found out that there is some level of misunderstanding from the finance department personnel and the students (clients). This in turn has brought up inefficiencies and conflicts between the students and the employees in the particular department. Delays, misplaced receipts and un-entered figures, are just some of the challenges encountered. Hence, something needs to be done about the service delivery in this department. It is among the most important sections in any institution and problems arising from the department, may paint the entire higher learning institution, ineffective.

Receive much appreciation for allowing the writing of this report. It was a great opportunity to learn about the factors that surround service delivery, causes of negative service encounters as well as how to prevent such encounters from happening.

Sincerely

Nick Brito

Overview of a Negative Service Encounter at University of Southern Queensland

 

Name

Date

Executive Summary

Customers or clients do expect the best from their service providers or suppliers. The consumer decision process model is used to explain how customers make their decisions to buy and their expectations throughout the process. There are three levels of this model including the pre-purchase stage, the purchase and consumption together with the post purchase stage. At each level, a client or a customer has certain expectations. If they are not met, they have a negative service encounter, which may be detrimental to the brand of the institution or the organization. This report was commissioned to address the negative service encounter in the financial department of the university. It explores the entire experience based on the service delivery process, the service communication, management of the service physical evidence, managing service customers and people issues.  It then concludes on the findings from the aforementioned aspects.

Table of Contents

Letter of Transmittal ii

Overview of a Negative Service Encounter at University of Southern Queensland. iv

Executive Summary. v

Table of contents. vi

1.0   Introduction. 1

1.1 Background. 3

1.1.1  The service delivery process. 3

1.1.2 The service communication. 4

1.1.3 Managing the service physical evidence. 5

1.1.4 People Issues. 5

1.1.5 Managing service customers. 5

2.0 Conclusions. 6

3.0  References. 7

1.0   Introduction

In any organization, the service encounter can be either positive or negative.  The direction, which the service delivery process takes, depends on a number of factors including the contact personnel and the communication between the client and the service provider. It is the aim of every marketer to accord a customer a positive service encounter. This means that the clients are satisfied with the services. To achieve a delightful experience for clients, an organization should invest its financial, human resources and physical evidence into their marketing strategies (Massad and Crowston, 2013, pp.14-27).

Hence, when assessing service delivery, processes, people and physical evidence are important variables, which need to be assessed. For instance, under people, the service personnel in a company will determine whether a customer gets positive service encounter or not. A customer or a client will not want to deal with a representative, who has scanty knowledge base on a service or a product. When a client approaches an officer, they expect to find all the information, they may want from the agent. If they cannot, then they are likely to have a negative service encounter. Again, where the contact personnel have not undergone sound training on how to manage customers, they may cause unpleasant experience (Ligas and Coulter, 2001, pp.71-76).

Customers need attention from marketers. If they are selling services to them, they must be attentive to their concerns and respond as necessary.  Courtesy and kindness are other attributes, which clients expect to find in their service providers.  Marketers should also be able to maintain a high level of calmness, especially when they encounter a difficult customer. That is why, there is a need for internal marketing before an organization approaches the external market, which composes of customers. If the customers feel the representative did not meet their needs, they may display displeasure and retract from seeking products or services from the organization (Ligas and Coulter, p.75).

Lastly, on people, the marketers must be easy to identify. No matter how willing the officers are to help the client, they may not help much, if the customer cannot identify them. Some organizations use badges, t-shirts, caps and the like, for identification purposes in their company (Massad and Crowston, 2013, pp. 22-25).

Processes, is another determinant of the level of service experience. They can be defined as a set of stages geared towards achieving a certain objective.  In service delivery, processes include stages of providing and accessing the service or product.  Accessibility is one characteristic of a service product. Making a service accessible to customers saves their time and costs, which ensures them a positive service encounter. Bureaucracy in the provision of services must be reduced or eliminated and technology integrated, to streamline the processes (Manrai and Manrai, 1993, pp. 97-101).

Lastly, on the factors that determine service delivery is the physical evidence. An organization should communicate to its clients about their core services, through their physical environment.  It is worth noting that physical evidence goes beyond what one can see.  For instance, the arrangement of a classroom will be different from that of a restaurant.  Therefore, for an organization to pull customers, they must invest in their physical environment (Ponsignon, Smart and Maull, 2007, pp.1-30).

If the above three aspects are not married together, the customer experience is affected.  This report scrutinizes a negative service encounter, at the University of Southern Queensland. It is written with the authorization of the CEO.  It assesses the service delivery process, the physical evidence, service communication, managing service customers and people’s issues (Ponsignon et al, 2007, pp.18-24).

1.1 Background

The University of Southern Queensland is among the leading higher learning institutions. It offers on-campus, online programs as well as part-time/fulltime studies. Their programs are divided under business & commerce, engineering and built environment, health and community together with humanities and communication.  Others include information technology, English language, law and justice as well as a wide range of sciences (A.E.N, 2014,n.pag).

To achieve their core objectives effectively, the institution has various departments including academic departments for all the programs outlined before, accounts and finance, administrative, sports and security among others. This report seeks to examine a negative service encounter experienced at the finance department. On campus students, are required to pay fees on time, in order to acquire a permit to sit for examinations. Hence, at the start of the semester, students flock the department to handle one issue or the other (A.E.N, 2014, n.pag).

The negative service encounter involved a delay in the issuance of a receipt, of sponsorship funds, which led to inconveniences including risk of missing the main university exams.  The negative encounter, was brought about by a number of factors among them bureaucracy, inefficient processes and failure to fully integrate technology fully to prevent such happenings. Below is an account of the internal factors of the institution, which fueled the negative encounter (Bitner, Booms, Tetreault, 1990, pp.71-94).

1.1.1 The service delivery process

In the financial department, paperwork and manual entry of data are still integral to the section. This makes it difficult to keep track of any new funds when they enter the system. Furthermore, the sponsorship funds are sent using different money transfer methods. Hence, it is for the personnel at the department, to be on the lookout, for any funds entering the system and feed them immediately. However, this is almost impossible, where the institution has not leveraged on advanced systems (Bitner et al, 1990, pp.80-89).

While the university of Southern Queensland quote security as the main reason, why they opt for the manual way of feeding figures into their systems, it delays the process and may jeopardize the students.  This is what led to a negative service encounter. Hence, the student understood that the money was already credited to the institutions account, but the personnel at the department had not made the effort of correcting the students account.   It would be best, if the systems were flexible enough not only to hasten the process but also to motivate the personnel by making their work easier (Slatten, 2011, pp.1-95).

1.1.2 The service communication

The service communication is integral to any service marketing. Good communication skills are required of every marketer or service provider, without which the customer can feel dissatisfied. On the other hand, if the customer is at the pre-purchase stage of the consumer decision process model, they may retreat and buy from the competitors. This shows how communication is important in every transaction (Valera, Svensson, Brambilla, Oliveros, 2013, pp.413-416).

In the account of the negative service encounter with the university’s finance department employees, communication has stood out as a barrier. The personnel would have communicated earlier to the examination department; the particular case was yet to be resolved. This way, they would have prevented the negative encounter and solved the matter internally since it was their failure.  Their inadequacies almost led to the student missing the examination. It also cost the student time and emotional turmoil, as they contemplated the effects of missing the test (Valera et al, 2013, p.415).

1.1.3 Managing the service physical evidence

The physical evidence is important aspect in service delivery. It is a package of stimulus when one is shopping or accessing the service. They physical environment and the ambience surrounding a work set up, should go a long way into communicating the services or products offered by the establishment. Usually, the finance department at the University of Southern Queensland offers their services through the window (Ligas and Coulter, 2001, pp.73-76).

Although this set up, is used to secure the department, it is a deterrent to sound service delivery. Some issues such as missing funds would not be appropriate to be handled by the window. This may have caused more displeasure. There is also the feeling that the personnel are not addressing the issue, as it is required, since they are not in close contact with the customers (Bitner et al, 1990, pp.81-82).

1.1.4 People Issues

Negative service encounter is often a product of people issues. It is important to understand that the issues can stem from both clients and the employees.  Either of the two can make the experience positive or negative. In the case of the missing sponsorship funds at the finance department, the problem was escalated by the personnel, who did not want to look into the matter instantly even after hearing the urgency of the matter. The customer in this case, was anxious since the exams were around the corner and the staff, gave the matter no priority.

The cold attitude of the employees only made the matters worse. It did nothing to enhance the experience of the service customer. That is why, it is important for the institution to invest in training their employees on how to interact with the customers, even during the most sensitive situations (Ligas and Coulter, 2001, p.75).

1.1.5 Managing service customers

Understanding how to deal with all kinds of customers is a responsibility of every organization. Customers will vary based on their perceptions and the place they come from. Some of them will be loving and easy to handle whereas others will be difficult, no matter what one gives to them. Hence, it is important to learn the customer behavior and deal with them as their personalities demand.  The personnel at the university’s finance department will have known that the student was anxious and therefore, handle the case with care. They would have first own up the mistake, then, go ahead to explain how the problem will be fixed, by making a communication promise (Massad and Crowston, 2013, pp. 15-17).

2.0 Conclusions

From the account above, it is clear that for sound service delivery to be achieved, the processes, physical evidence, communication, management of the service customers and the people issues must be considered.  To avoid a negative service encounter, the service delivery process, should be streamlined. Technology can help great by keeping bureaucracies at a minimum. Keeping an environment, which communicates the services of an organization, is also utterly important. Communication and managing people’s issues are also other considerations. Good communication and great attitude can go a long way in improving the service encounter. Lastly, it is also critical to understand customers and deal with them with caution (Bitner et al, 1990, pp 83-84).

3.0 References

Australian Education Network, 2014. Profile of the University of Southern Queensland.  n.pag [Online] Availableat <http://www.australianuniversities.com.au/profiles/university-of-southern-queensland-usq.html> [Accessed 16 Sept. 2015].

Bitner, M.J., Booms, B.H. and Tetreault, M.S, 1990. The service encounter:Favorable and unfavorable incidents. American Marketing Association.54(1), pp.71-84 [Online]. Availableat<http://www.jstor.org/stable/1252174> [Accessed on 16 Sept. 2015].

Ligas, M. and Coulter, R.A.,  2001. “Changing Faces in Services Relationships: Customers= Roles During Dissatisfactory Service Encounters”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research,pp.71-76.[Online]Availableat<http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/8438/volumes/v28/NA-28> [Accessed 16 Sept. 2015].

Manrai, L.A. and  Manrai, A.J.,  1993. “Complaints and Compliments About Service Encounters: a Comparison of American and Bulgarian Consumers”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, pp. 97-101. [Online] <http://acrwebsite.org/volumes/7418/volumes/v20/NA-20>  [Accessed 16 Sept. 2015].

Massad, N. and Crowston, K., 2013. Using the service encounter model to enhance our understanding of business to customer transactions in an eEnvironment. From the 16th Bled eCommerce Conference eTransformation. pp.14-27 [Online]Availableat<http://crowston.syr.edu/system/files/15Massad_0.pdf>

Ponsignon, F., Smart, P.A  and Maull, R.S., 2007. Service delivery systems: A business process perspective. Exeter: Exeter Centre for Strategic Processes and Operations (XSPO). pp.1-30 [Online]. Availableat<http://www.poms.org/conferences/cso2007/talks/44.pdf>[Accessed on 16 Sept. 2015].

Slatten, T., 2011. Emotions in service encounters from the perspectives of employees and customers, pp.1-95.[Online] Availableat<http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:433158/FULLTEXT01.pdf>[Accessed 16 Sept. 2015].

Valera, J.C.S., Svensson, G. Brambilla, F.R. and Oliveros, M.E.G, 2013. “Ideas in marketing: Finding the new and polishing the old” in Perceived justice and emotions in a negative service encounter: A Latin American perspective. Academy of Marketing Science, pp.413-416. [Online]Availableat<http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-10951-0_157#page-1> [Accessed 16 Sept 2015].