Consumer Decision Making in Services
Consumers seek and rely more on information from personal sources than from non-personal sources.
- Mass communication can convey messages about search qualities but little about experience qualities.
- Asking friends or experts allows for obtaining information that is more trusted.
- Because they can discover few attributes before purchase they feel greater risk in selecting a little known alternative.
Consumers engage in greater post-purchase evaluation and information seeking with services than with goods.
Consumers engage in more post-purchase evaluation than pre-purchase evaluation when selecting and consuming services.
- Experience qualities cannot be adequately assessed prior to purchase.
- The consumer chooses from little known alternatives, through experience the consumer builds up knowledge of and forms an attitude toward the service, after this the consumer pays attention to messages supporting his/her choice.
Consumers perceive greater risk when buying services than when buying goods.
- Services are intangible, non-standardized and usually sold without guarantees.
- Each time the service is purchased there is uncertainty about the outcome.
- Service cannot be returned.
- Many services are so technical; the consumer does not possess the information/knowledge to evaluate it even after purchase.
Evaluation of alternatives
The consumer’s evoked set of alternatives is smaller with services than with goods.
- Retail establishment versus service establishment that only offers a single brand.
- May not be more than 2 businesses providing the service in a geographic area.
- Difficulty in obtaining information prior to purchase.So consumers may select the first acceptable alternative.
For many non-professional services the consumer’s evoked set frequently includes self-provision of the service.
- Consumers consider themselves as a source of supply for the service.
Positive (negative) moods and emotions enhance (decrease) the likelihood of performance of behaviors with positive expected outcomes.
- Interaction in the service environment becomes colored by the customer’s mood.
- Any service characterized by human interaction is strongly dependent on the moods and emotions of customers and providers.
- Positive moods make customers more obliging and willing to participate to help the service outcome be achieved and vice-versa.
- The greater the human interaction in the service encounter, the more likely the consumer’s evaluation of the service will be influenced by moods and emotion.
Service purchase and consumption
The delivery of a service can be seen as a drama, where the service personnel are the “actors”, service customers are the “audience”, physical evidence of the service is “setting” and the process of service is the “performance”.
- Creating a desirable impression before an audience by managing actors, their behavior and the physical setting.
- Training = rehearsal, Defining the role = scripting, Creation of the environment = setting the stage, Delivery in presence of customer = on stage, Performance in back office = back stage
- Physical evidence such as Visual, Oral, Scent, Design and Cleanliness– scenery, props and other inanimate environments used to create desired impressions.
Service encounters can be viewed as role performances.
- Success of the service depends on how well roles are acted out – both customers and employees.
- A script is very important.
- Experiencing a script that is not similar to what is expected can cause confusion and dissatisfaction.
Negative departures from the customers expected script will detract from service performance.
Customer compatibility is a factor that influences customer satisfaction, particularly in high contact services.
- The mere presence of other customers can impact the perception of the service.
- Customer compatibility is important where Customers are in close proximity and engaged in numerous activities
- Customers must occasionally wait for a service
- Customers are expected to share time, space or service utensils.
Consumers attribute some of their dissatisfaction with services to their own inability to specify or perform their part of the service.
- They feel responsible because they participate in the definition and production of a service.
- The quality of many services depends on information customer gives -“process consumption”
Consumers may complain less frequently about services than about goods due to their belief that they themselves are partly responsible for their satisfaction.
Consumers adopt innovations in services more slowly than they adopt innovations in goods.
- Rate of diffusion of an innovation depends on – relative advantage, compatibility, communicability, divisibility and complexity.
- Services are less communicable, less divisible, complex and less compatible than products.
Brand switching is less frequent with services than with products.
- Brand loyalty is based on – switching costs, availability of substitutes, perceived risk and past satisfactions.
- Monetary fees may accompany brand switching. it is difficult to obtain information on alternative services and satisfaction is based on experience, as a service cannot be tested before purchase.
- Customers may feel that the best way to obtain satisfaction is to become a regular customer.
Notes Credit: Puneet Gupta & Gunjan Chauhan