Much of the economy in the developed world is dominated by the production and consumption of services. For example, in the US, current statistics show that approximately 75% of the work force is involved in the services industry. Additionally, 45% of an average US family's budget is spent on services, and for Europe statistics are similar. In many developing nations services are considered a way to expand and stimulate economic growth and development. Consistent with economic growth comes a growth in services employment. While most business schools focus on the manufacturing segment of the economy, given these facts it seems imperative to study the marketing of services in a separate course. Three kinds of services will form the central focus of this course: (1) Services which are offered by organizations in the service-sector (banks, assurance and transport companies, the hotel and catering industry, health care and the tourist industry, among others), (2) Services which are offered by companies that manufacture products. In this context services refer mostly to the so-called "after-sales service" (repair services, service engineers, etc.) but also (product) instructions accompanying a sale, and (3) a specific focus on the online context of social media, virtual communities, Twitter etc. as these hold promising potential for service delivery and as they form a new frontier for both practitioners as well as researchers.
Service organisations vary, from restaurants, hotels and car rental agencies to financial services and even education. These organisations require a distinctive approach to marketing strategy. We will build on the principle of marketing and expand into very specific themes covering the entire spectrum of services, seen through many angles and illustrated by relevant case studies. In the course we will explore methods, based on academic research, in which firms can use service as a unique selling proposition. We have designed this course to address the unique needs and challenges in this ever-changing aspect of marketing, including the dynamic and rapidly developing area of electronic and mobile services. Throughout the course emphasis will be placed more specifically on issues related to marketing management and customer perceptions. Thus, a number of presentation topics need to be researched both in a theoretical and a practical manner in addition to the discussion of a number of tasks. Moreover, to enhance understanding of the course concepts, several elaborate cases will be discussed and student teams will complete a real-life services marketing project.
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The general objective of this course is to introduce the different characteristics of services and their particular consequences for marketing. On the one hand, this will be accomplished by studying the literature (the course textbook and selected articles). On the other hand, a major emphasis will be placed on presentations in which teams of participants are expected to lead the discussion on various service marketing themes and real-life cases. In addition, students will work in teams on a real-life services marketing project. By these means, students should obtain an in-depth insight into the literature on the marketing of services and at the same time develop a (hands-on) feeling for conducting research in this area. Would-be participants should be aware of the fact that this course requires a considerable amount of planning, effort, and inventiveness.
- Services Marketing: Integrating customer focus from across the firm, 2nd revised European edition 2012 or newer, ISBN-0077131711, ISBN-9780077131715
Alan Wilson, Valarie A. Zeithaml, Mary Jo Bitner and Dwayne D. Gremler
McGraw-Hill Higher Education