Customer outrage and delight

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Author: Harsh V. Verma
Date: Apr. 2003
From: Journal of Services Research(Vol. 3, Issue 1)
Publisher: Institute for International Management and Technology
Document Type: Article
Length: 5,117 words
Lexile Measure: 1150L

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The service sector in India is the fastest growing sector. This apparently means plenty of opportunities for service businesses. But, the competition is becoming fiercer along side. Capturing and keeping a customer is a great challenge. Opportunities do not translate into business easily. Accordingly, the marketer is faced with a challenge as to how to create a service package, which wins customers and assures their loyalty. The marketer needs to go beyond simple satisfaction to total satisfaction or delight. This can only be done when the marketer is armed with the knowledge of what satisfies and delights the customer. The present study utilized the critical incident technique to identify the factors, which cause customers to feel outraged and delighted. The factors responsible for customers' outrage pertain to the core service failure. These include amongst others, non-performance of promised service and rude, offensive and impolite staff. For customer, these imply violation of something fundamental to a service transaction. These are basic essentials to be in the business. But these are not sufficient. On the other hand delighters by and large relate to good interpersonal performance. Customers get delighted when they interact with customer oriented staff. Delighters include friendliness, courtesy, consideration, problem solving, and personalization.

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Services are where the future is. As it has been witnessed in the most developed countries of the world, service sector has come to occupy the top position in their economies. Service businesses contribute maximum to employment, wealth generation and GDP. The importance of services can be gauged from the fact that, the world's top most business corporations are not from conventional manufacturing sectors. This year's Fortune list of the big corporations lists a service company at its helm. Wal Mart has displaced the likes of General Motors, Ford, Exxon (Murphy, 2000).

India is yet to experience such transformation, and before long the services sector would take over the manufacturing as the lead sector. The services in India grew at the rate of 8.3 per cent from 1992-93 to 2000-1. While the manufacturing and agriculture grew at 6.5 and 3.3 per cent respectively. At present services contribute to country's GDP to the extent of 49 percent.

The favourable macro trend may not reveal good micro scenario. The expanding service sector does not necessarily imply pleasant reality. There is distinct shift from protected, dormant and passive service sector to a vibrant, liberalized and active one. The higher growth rate on the one hand suggest opportunities to grow but at the same time it casts dangers, risks and uncertainties on some players. The new market reality is likely to place premium on sophistication of marketing process and skills on the supply side. While demand side would challenge the marketers to orient and reorient their approach to embrace marketing to its fullest extent.

One of the greatest problems faced by the marketers is loss in the customer base. Firms helplessly watch as their customer base erodes. The studies on customer retention reveal that on an average a firm loses 20...

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