Characteristics of Services

The special nature of services stems from several distinctive characteristics. These characteristics, not only create special marketing challenges and opportunities, but they often result in marketing programs that are substantially different from those found in product marketing.

1. Intangibility

Since services are essentially intangible, consumers can’t sample- that is, taste, feel, see, hear, or smell before they are purchased. This feature of services places some strain on a marketing organization. The burden falls mainly on a company’s promotional program.

For example, insurance companies thus promote service benefits such as guaranteed payment of a child’s college expenses or retirement income or life-assurance benefits, or telephone companies informing the consumers of benefits using per-second billing for long-distance calls as practiced by GLO- company and other networks in Nigeria for instance.

2. Inseparability

Services, often, cannot be separated from the seller. However, services must be created and dispensed, simultaneously. For example, dentists create and dispense almost all their services at the same time. It further means that services cannot be separated from their providers, whether the providers are human beings or machines.

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3. Heterogeneity

The service industry or even an individual seller of services can’t standardize output. Each ‘unit’ of the service is somewhat different from other units of the same service. For example, an Airline does not give the same quality of service on each trip.

All repair jobs on automobiles are not of equal quality; in a bank, a counter cashier may be unpleasant and slow, whilst another may be cheerful and efficient. It is however important to note that it is often difficult to judge the quality of service.

Therefore, service companies should pay particular attention to the ‘product planning stage of the marketing program’.

4. Perishability

Services are highly perishable and they cannot be stored. For example, unused electric power, empty seats, in a stadium, and idle mechanics in a garage all represent a business that is lost forever.

In addition, many doctors charge patients for missed appointments, because the service value existed only at that point and disappeared when the patient did not show up.

In summary, for service providers to be regarded as effective and efficient, it is imperative to study the supply and demand of services provided, while taking into consideration the purchasing power of the target markets.

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