In the book, ‘Marketing Services’ by Leonard L. Berry and A. Parasuraman, they detail ‘An Integrative Framework for Marketing Services’ such as Real Estate services. Their central argument in the book is the essence of services marketing is service. Service quality is the foundation of services marketing. They highlight the importance of customer-friendly service designs. Everyone performing a service is a marketer. Superior execution is vital to sustaining the success initiated by an innovative service concept.
Service quality is very difficult to imitate. This is because quality service comes from i) inspired leadership throughout the organization ii) a customer friendly culture iii) excellent service system design iv) the effective use of information and technology. The core product being marketed is a performance. A strong performance builds competitiveness by earning customer’s confidence and reinforcing branding, advertising, selling and pricing.
In services, post-sale marketing through orchestrating a satisfying experience demonstrates benefits and build brand preference. A service company that does relatively little pre-sale marketing but is truly dedicated to delivering excellent quality service will enjoy greater marketing effectiveness – higher customer retention, more sales to existing customers, greater success at converting prospects to customers through positive word-of-mouth communications.
The authors present an integrative framework, see Fig 1 below:
When the company exceeds customer expectations in Service Performance the company in effect markets to its customers and turns itself into a Marketing Organization. These customers in turn market for the company through word-of-mouth testimonials.
Service Performance is in turn measured by:
- Service Reliability – performing the service dependably and accurately.
- Tangibles – The appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel and communications materials.
- Responsiveness – The willingness to help customers and to provide prompt service
- Assurance – The knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence
- Empathy – The provision of caring, individualized attention to customer
The authors present an action checklist for management to improve service performance:
- Do we believe zero service errors is a worthwhile goal?
- Do we have a good grasp of what it would take to deliver zero service errors?
- Do we demonstrate our commitment to quality service performance to all our employees?
- Are we doing enough to ensure that our employees are able, motivated, and encouraged to aim for zero service errors?
- Do we encourage, facilitate, and require teamwork and communication across the organization?
Service Attributes Important to Customers
- Being called back when promised
- Receiving an explanation of how a problem happened
- Providing me with information so I know what number to call
- Being contacted promptly when a problem is resolved
- Being allowed to talk with someone in authority
- Being told how long it will take to solve a problem
- Being given useful alternatives if a problem can’t be solved.
- Being treated like I am a person not an account number.
- Being told about ways to prevent a future problem
- Being given progress reports if a problem can’t be solved immediately
We believe that any Real Estate Service company following the authors advice would be well on their way to successful marketing and successful performance.