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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 arms 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)

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 2.1)
Functional unsatisfactory performance outcomes
Financial monetary loss, unexpected extra costs
Temporal wasted time, delays lead to problems
Physical personal injury, 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. 2.4)
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
Intangible Attributes, Variability, and Quality Control Problems Make Services Hard to Evaluate
Search attributes Tangible characteristics that allow customers to evaluate a product before
Experience attributes Characteristics that can be experienced when actually using the service
Credence attributes Characteristics that are difficult to evaluate confidently even after
Goods tend to be higher in search attributes, 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. 2.5)

Customer Satisfaction is Central to the Marketing Concept

Satisfaction defined as attitude-like judgment following a service purchase or series of service
Customers have expectations prior to
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operations,web help,distribution channels,processing services,service
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