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Q2. Explain the unique characteristics of services .

Unique Characteristics of Services
· Intangibility: This forms the biggest constituent of service that cannot be presented in a concrete way before purchasing. As services are intangible, you cannot feel, smell, hear, see, taste, and experience the service before you purchase it.
The company can conduct promotional programs that focus on the advantages that are derived from the service rather than exhibiting the service itself. Organisations use four promotional strategies to suggest the advantages of the service and helps in reducing the effect.

They are:
o Visualisation: This can be explained with an example. Consider the amusement parks, they depict the benefits of their park with ads that show people enjoying various rides, dancing, dining, and experiencing some amazing things provided in the amusement park. Consider another example of a student taking classes on an instrument like guitar. The student can make an assessment of the guitar class not only by attending it, but also by trying it once the class is over. But, the student will not be able to play the guitar perfectly unless he or she goes through the complete course.

o Association: an image of the service can be created by connecting the service with tangible object, person or a thing.

o Physical representation: Organisations such as American Express use colours such as gold or platinum to represent wealth and prestige for its credit card services. While advertising, an auto rental firm known as Enterprise shows a car covered in package, to stress its unique delivery features. Thus, organisations adopt various symbols to communicate their unique delivery features.

o Documentation: This is of two types past performance and future capability. For example, hospital staff can record its past performance by showing the number of babies born and can stress on its future capability by showing the images of special equipments available during an emergency situation. Website is considered as a valuable tool in minimising the intangibility of a specific service. They enable the marketers to give useful information containing animations and sound. They also provide a site where the marketers can answer to the queries of the clients via e-mails.

· Inseparability: This means the simultaneous involvement of the service providers in the production and marketing efforts. Services are inseparable from the creator and the seller of the service. In other words, services are crated, allotted, and consumed at the same time. As per marketing standards, inseparability means the possibility of direct sale only through a proper channel of distribution.

For example, a dentist creates and does all their services at the same time and they need the presence of a consumer to perform the services. Similarly, the presence of the customer is required for the fast food restaurant employee to offer service, in a physiotherapist clinic, and in an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). The scale of operation in a service firm can be limited. For example an orthopaedic can treat only limited number of patients a day. Sometimes you as a customer may also receive a service from the firm’s production site or the factory where the product is manufactured. Customers’ opinion about a service is formed based on their communication with the production sales personnel and the impression they get from the atmosphere in the factory. For example, if we consider education as a service, students develop a good opinion depending on the way the teacher teaches and also the atmosphere offered by the school or college.

An exception does exist in the inseparability feature, where the people representing the creator-seller also promote and sell some services. Insurance broker, travel agent, and so on represents these personals and is also known as inter-mediators. They sell services that will be provided later as specified by the instructions producing them. In such services, the inter mediator’s behaviour and appearance does affect the customer’s opinion about the service.

· Heterogeneity: It is not possible for a service organisation or a seller to standardise the output. Due to the human factor in production and delivery, each unit of service is different from the other units of the same service. As a buyer is concerned, it is difficult to understand the quality of a product before consumption. To avoid this confusion, companies must focus more on the product planning and implementation of the programs. For example, Air India flight provides high quality service for passengers travelling in executive class, compared to the quality of service provided for passengers travelling in economical class. The passengers cannot be sure of its quality before the completion of the journey.

· Perishability: One of the distinct features of services is perish ability as it cannot be stored for future usage. This creates disparity in the supply and demand. Moreover, the demand for more services varies based on the season. For example the air tickets, railway tickets and bus tickets are completely booked during long vacations. The service firms have adopted new methods to attract consumers during off seasons. They make use of advertisements to increase demand during relaxed periods. 


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