Characteristics of Services
The below cited characteristics of services make it unique and that is why services receive special treatment from marketers. There is general agreement that inherent differences between goods and services exist and that they result in unique, or at least different, management challenges for service businesses and for manufacturers that offer services as a core offering.
Services cannot be stored, saved, returned or resold once they have been used. Once rendered to a customer the service is completely consumed and cannot be delivered to another customer. eg: A customer dissatisfied with the services of a barber cannot return the service of the haircut that was rendered to him. At the most he may decide not to visit that particular barber in the future.
Services are intangible and do not have a physical existence. Hence services cannot be touched, held, tasted or smelt. This is most defining feature of a service and that which primarily differentiates it from a product. Also, it poses a unique challenge to those engaged in marketing a service as they need to attach tangible attributes to an otherwise intangible offering.Physical products in the store are widely displayed for customers to see, feel, touch, weigh or sniff at before deciding whether or not to buy.Comparing this with the choice of the service of say, an insurance policy. You cannot touch, see or smell the products before choosing, although clearly you can make some assessment based on past experience, word of mouth, or even the location and decor of the insurance office. The intangible nature of most services gives rise to special problems both for suppliers and consumers.
In the production and marketing of physical products, companies have increasingly paid special attention to ensuring consistency in quality, feature, packaging, and so on. More often than not all customers can be sure that every bottle of Coke he/she buys, even in a life-time of purchases, will not vary. The provision of services, however, invariably includes a large measure of the “human element”
Indeed, with many services, we are purchasing nothing else but the skills of the suppliers. Because of this, it is often very difficult for both supplier and consumer to ensure a consistent “product” or quality of service.
Services provided by different individuals and organizations widely differ in price and quality. The price and quality of service are dependent on: who provides the service, how they are provided and where they are provided? Services industries normally make substantial investment in training of personnel to make them competent to provide better services to customers. They also give adequate attention on staff motivation to maintain a consistent quality of services. Some service providers give at home services to customers for higher prices.