The Service Sector and Customer Satisfaction
Unlike the production sector, the services sector is very different and demanding. There are five main features that distinguish service from production:
1. To be intangible: Since services are classified as “performance” rather than material elements, they cannot be evaluated in terms of being seen or touched as in products. For this reason, services cannot be stored and stocked, protected by “patents” and cannot be exhibited on shelves and showcases.
2. To be heterogeneous: It is not possible for companies operating in the service industry to standardize the goods they produce because it’s a person providing the service. Since every person has a different presentation style, personality structure, characteristics and habits, it is not possible to receive and provide the same service all the time. The service can vary from person to person, from customer to customer and from day to day.
3. The Concurrency of Production and Consumption: Most products are first produced, stocked for a while and then consumed. Contrary to this, services are produced and consumed at the same time.
4. To be nondurable: The specialty of services can carry with it some particular elements that can be identified as non-durability. These elements are;
a. It’s not possible to make an inventory or stock services.
b. Many service businesses encounter significant problems balancing demand and supply since services cannot be stocked.
There are no problems when demand is constant. However, a
fluctuation in demand creates problems for businesses.
5. Lack of ownership: One of the biggest differences between service and product is the lack of ownership of the service. When goods are purchased buyers have the right to claim ownership of the product, in service businesses when the service is produced the ownership does not transfer from the seller to the buyer.
The main factor that determines the future of businesses is the customer. While customer service, which is considered as a means of competition and survival, connects the existing customers to the business, it is the most important factor in the formation of a new customer portfolio and the continuity of purchasing habits of customers.
All activities and efforts within a business are based on satisfying the customer, retaining the customer and ensuring customer loyalty. Attracting new customers can be more difficult and more expensive than maintaining existing ones. Therefore, customer retention can be more important and critical than attracting new ones for the business.
In today's conditions, companies must have the following capabilities for effective service management:
• Quick to meet customers' requests
• Flexibility to meet different customer requests and to change rapidly
• Creativity at every stage of the organization
• Internal customer satisfaction, the employees within the organization
• The quality of the product offered to the customer
In addition to the operation personnel that play an active role within a company, there are also support departments such as accounting, administrative affairs and marketing. When the business is considered as a whole the overall aim of the company is to satisfy the customer. Nevertheless, the concept of customer has been divided into two, in conjunction with the total quality approach. In general, the concept of external customers is used when defining the people who use the products or services produced by the companies and the internal customer concept when talking about the employees of organizations.
Satisfying the internal customer ensures that things are properly functioning, therefore less mistakes. In this way, the external customer is more satisfied. When the customer is highly satisfied, the profit of the business increases and the costs decrease. Achieving internal customer satisfaction is only possible through strong communication among people involved in the process and a healthy understanding of each other's expectations.
The concept of external customer satisfaction is closely related to the concept of internal customer satisfaction. Internal and external customer satisfaction is a cycle as in the figure.