Autumn, 2020 – Main Exam
SEAT NUMBER: STUDENT NUMBER: SURNAME: (FAMILY NAME) OTHER NAMES: TUTOR: Alex/Manjunath/Francois
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Time Allowed: 24 hours.
Reading time is for reading only. You are not permitted to write, calculate or mark your paper in any way during reading time.
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Students please note:
‘save as’ the file on your computer and start answering in this document
Write you answer by adding pages to the document following the questions but you need to make sure to respect the maximum number of words per answer (indicated next to each question number)
This exam is worth 40% of your final mark
This exam has five (5) questions
Students must answer all five (5) questions
Be sure to answer all parts of each question
Be sure to answer the question that is asked
Rough work space
Do not write your answers on this page.
****For questions 1 and 2 below please consider the context of your group project when answering****
Question 1. (response: 400 words maximum)
When the Swans are allowed to welcome back spectators in their stadium, based on your understanding of the experience staged by the Swans during their home games, consider the role of the customer (or spectator) in co-producing the experience; keeping in mind the relevant segments of customers for this service.
Identify which role(s) customers play in the co-production of the service experience. Is it as: productive resources, as contributors to service quality and satisfaction, or as competitors? Keep in mind that customers may have one or more of these roles in varying degrees of intensity. Make sure you justify your answer based on facts and information from your work on this assignment as well as from tools and concepts from the subject. (4 marks).
Productive Resources- Productive feature of swans is based on their performance against competitors. Consumers or spectators have an impact on the performance hence contribute to the productive resources of Swan. This is through the purchase of products and services offered by the club, which provide funds to support its activities. They are also a great resource through recommendations they make to other individuals to purchase the club’s products and services and convert them to being fans of the club.
Contributors to service quality and satisfaction- Consumers of the club products and services and follow up the brand through social media, especially during the covid-19 period. The social media platforms provide a conversational platform that allows the club to benefit from suggestions for improvement that the consumers give. Also, through understanding the consumers, the club can improve its products and services based on the consumers’ preferences and choices. This act enhances the satisfaction provided to consumers.
Think about 1 main strategic initiative aimed at strengthening customer participation in the co-creation of the experience in order to enhance it and briefly describe it. (6 marks).
Customer-centric strategy. This strategy aims at putting the consumer first so that any activities and concepts implemented are aimed at providing positive experiences and build long term relationships with the customers. The leadership of the club could be consumer-focused to improve the experiences of the consumers by ensuring they have the best services and quality products. Also, the experience must be designed. This can be through the satisfaction to be received from the consumers hence encouraging them to continue purchasing products. The experience could also be in the purchasing channels, communication channels, and product and service development experiences.
Besides, feedback is a factor that drives continuous improvements. It occurs through allowing the consumers to provide feedback on their satisfaction and also give suggestion s based on activities that a company is implementing or performing. Providing a platform for consumers encourages them to give feedback that helps improve their experiences when the ideas are implemented in the company. The customer-centric strategy concentrates on the satisfaction of the consumers first hence value the feedback they provide by improving on the factors that need improvements and implementing activities that would improve the experiences, which then encourages them to keep participating. Therefore, the ideas received to improve satisfaction helps in the co-creation of experience while involving the consumers’ views. As consumers’ opinions are implemented, they are encouraged to contribute more ideas, which then enhances the experiences of the consumers and, at the same time, improves satisfaction, consequently leading to an increase in customer base hence more sales.
Question 2. (response: 200 words maximum)
Consider now how you would support the initiative described in question 1 b) above through an appropriate communication strategy. Make sure you keep in mind how this strategy would impact service promises (5 marks).
Customer-based strategies are highly dependent on the information given by consumers on the improvement of their experiences with the company and satisfaction received from the consumption of a product. Consumers are segmented in different demographics and variated behaviors. Therefore, an online communication strategy would be appropriate to reach most of the consumers. It can be done through social media platforms, and the internet provided communication strategies. The communication is enhanced through timely responses, consistent responses, and active responses. In a situation where regular communications are disrupted, communications strategies can apply channels such as the internet to improve the conversations between the company and its consumers.
Through social media channels, consumers can participate by giving suggestions and responses that are useful in improving experiences. On the other hand, as consumers are responding, the company should engage in being active in the platforms, providing consistent and timely responses. It encourages them to keep participating through the platforms and also providing ideas that help in creating new and improved experiences.
Also, as consumers purchase products and services, providing a platform where consumers could provide feedback on the satisfaction they received from the consumption of the product helps in co-creation. The responses will be based on use, hence more effective and efficient compared to non-consumers.
****For the questions below (3, 4, and 5), you no longer have to consider the group project assignment when answering****
Question 3. (response: 200 words maximum)
In case of service failure, is a strong, good quality, relationship between the service provider and the customer always desirable from the organization’s standpoint? Explain. (5 marks).
When there is a service failure, consumers tend to be disappointed by the company and its services and are most likely to shift to other companies or the company’s competitors in the search for better services. Therefore, it is appropriate for the company to consider having a robust and good quality relationship with the customers to explain the challenges experienced and compensate for any losses or inconveniences caused. A good relationship also ensures that consumer’s need is answered as initially wanted and that the loyalty they had on the company is restored.
The desirability of having a good relationship with an organization is also aimed at maintaining the brand name of the company. A failed service is one factor that quickly discourages consumers from being loyal to the brand, and there is a probability of them shifting to other providers. Through strong relationships, the company also benefits by having customer behavior benefits such as social benefits to customers and gaining mentors for the company. On the other hand, there are customer benefits through confidence benefits where the consumers trust the service providers again and have knowledge of what to expect in case the challenge occurs in the future. They also benefit from exclusive benefits as better prices and discounts.
Question 4. (response: 400 words maximum)
You are a newly appointed marketing executive at a company that owns and operates Olympic-size swimming pools for the general public. The opening of a new facility is scheduled to be in 3 months from now, and you are free to decide which segment(s) of the population you will target (families, recreational swimmers, fitness enthusiasts, ‘loungers,’ ‘splashers,’ etc.). At the same time, you want to make sure the capacity of the swimming pool is utilized to the fullest possible extent.
Specify whether you would adopt a narrow focus strategy and target only 1 or 2 segments or you would cater to as many customer segments as possible and justify why (2 marks)
The objective when choosing the segment to target will depend on the capacity of the facility. The aim is to utilize the facility to the fullest hence will focus on several segments depending on the size of the market. When the size of the segments is large, then the smaller number of segments will be required to utilize the facility to the fullest. Through catering for many customer segments, the objective of serving a larger population and also using it to the fullest will be met. Also, focusing on a narrow focus strategy may affect the business in the future as a segment may be interested but feel left out.
Based on your answer to a) above, describe at least 2 strategies that you will use to match capacity with demand (5 marks)
Management of supply and demand- There are many market segments, and focusing on all of them may create a challenge of higher demand than supply. Also, focusing on a narrow strategy may have a problem of low demand than supply. Therefore, the best approach is to balance both supply and demand. This is through focusing on segments depending on their size. The bigger the sizes of the segments, the least the number of segments targeted. Also, the smaller the size of the segment, the more segments will be targeted depending on the capacity of the facility.
Keeping Customers in Stock- This method involves putting customers in stock on a first-come, first-served basis. Customers are expected to wait in a queue and get into the facility one by one until the facility is fully packed. The remaining people have to go back home and wait another day. Many segments will be served using this strategy but depending on the capacity of the facility.
Based on your answers to a) and b) above, explain how you would manage this Customer Mix with the ultimate goal of optimizing the service experience for every customer (5 marks).
The customer mix will be managed through three steps, including assessing the compatibility of segments, isolating incompatible segments, and enhancing segment compatibility. Since the consumers getting to the facility are from different segments all mixed up, the first step is to assess the compatibility of the segments. For loungers and splashers may be compatible due to the similarity of the games. The next step will be to separate the incompatible segments to find different sections for them. Incompatible segments require to have different treatments and sections to enhance their satisfaction. The third step is to improve the segment compatibility, which involves finding parts of the facility that the consumes will be most satisfied. Also, ensuring that their preferences are considered to ensure maximum satisfaction. As consumers get into the facility, they are categorized based on the segments they belong to, especially in keeping customers in stock. Therefore, identification of the right segments facilitates choices of the activities to involve each segment.
Question 5. (response: 300 words maximum)
One of the most important strategic decisions for services marketing executives is the extent of the empowerment of the service employees who are in direct contact with customers.
Define empowerment and weigh in the pros and cons of this strategy (4 marks).
Empowerment is a strategy that gives employees autonomy to perform specific responsibilities as a way of encouraging them to perform their responsibilities effectively. Empowerment is essential as it enables employees to respond quickly to consumer needs, respond to dissatisfied customers during recovery, and improve communication of employees to consumers. These actions benefit consumers. Also, empowerment encourages employees to provide ideas to the company and make them feel better about their jobs.
However, empowerment may be a challenge to the company. This is because it increases the cost of investment in the selection and training of staff. Also, there is a high cost of labor since the employees must be empowered to perform well in their responsibilities. Also, the employees may take advantage of the empowerment provided to give poor advice that may have adverse effects on an organization. Lastly, empowerment may be thought to be a violation of foreplay by the consumers. This risks the consumer’s loyalty to the organization.
Find some service provisions for which high empowerment is desirable for providing the best possible service and other service provisions for which low empowerment is more desirable. Make sure you explain why you believe such difference exists; these service provisions might be from different types of services, involve different customer segments, etc. (4 marks).
High empowerment is required services that entirely rely on the services of one person; hence when the person fails to perform well, the whole service is affected. It includes services such as body massages, assembling services, and expert advice. These services are provided by individuals in the sectors, and satisfaction depends on their services and not any tangible object. Therefore, the employees are such sectors require high empowerment for operations to continue smoothly.
Low empowerment for employees is required when the services provided can be complemented by other activities. For example, the hotel industry employee empowerment is necessary. However, consumers may derive satisfaction from the facilities in the hotel, or the products they get as they purchase food and drinks. The disparity depends on the form of services being provided and the set-up of the premises for service provision. For online retail services, consumers purchase directly and are delivered to them; hence satisfaction depends on the consumption of the product purchased. Therefore, the empowerment required is lower.