Services Marketing

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This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.

MKT B365

Services Marketing

Welcome to MKT B365 Services Marketing.

MKT B365 Services Marketing is a higher-level five-credit elective course within the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree programme. Before starting this course, you are strongly advised to have completed MKT B250 Introduction to Marketing or its equivalent. The principal reason is that MKT B365 Services Marketing branches out from mainstream marketing concepts and practices with a specific focus on services. Embarking on a more specialized marketing course like this one requires a thorough understanding of the foundation of basic marketing concepts, buying behaviour, targeting and positioning, and the 4 Ps of the marketing mix.

This course represents a bridge between theory and practice in the marketing of services. There are specific marketing concepts and tools peculiar to the service context when compared to those that are applicable to product marketing. Even an average consumer can tell that there are striking differences between a product and a service. Most notably, a product is tangible in that one can feel, see and touch it; a service is largely intangible as it does not physically exist. Therefore, the concepts and tools that are applied to the marketing of products that you have learned before may not be entirely transferable to the marketing of services. Bridging this gap is what this course is all about.

The main study materials are a set textbook, supplemented by a Study Guide, online multimedia components and face-to-face sessions.

 

Course aims

MKT B365 Services Marketing aims to provide you with a broad range of theories, tools and practices that help you understand the important features of services, and how services marketing strategies can be formulated in a competitive marketing environment.

 

Course learning outcomes

Upon the completion of MKT B365 Services Marketing, you should be able to:

  • analyse systematically a variety of services marketing issues and problems;
  • explain theories and concepts related to the marketing of services; and
  • apply these theories and concepts when formulating and implementing services marketing strategies.

Course overview

The following table gives a general overview of the course structure. It suggests the amount of time you should allow for completing units and provides a broad schedule for you to plan your work. This estimation includes time for reading the units and set textbook, completing activities, self-tests and the assignment, attending tutorials, and preparing for your final examination.

 

UnitTitleNo. of weeksAssessment
1Understanding service markets, products and customers3Online quiz 1
2Applying the 4 Ps of marketing to services3Online quiz 2
3Managing the customer interface4Online quiz 3
4Developing customer relationship4Online quiz 4
and Assignment
5Striving for service excellence2Online quiz 5
 Total16 

In this course’s textbook-based approach, different learning modules have been carefully selected by the course team from a textbook suitable for MKT B365 Services Marketing.

In addition to the set textbook, you will be working through the course using a Study Guide produced by HKMU. The Study Guide leads you through your study pathway unit by unit, providing commentary on each textbook chapter and supplementary self-assessment opportunities.

The third main place you will refer to for learning resources during the course is the HKMU’s Online Learning Environment (OLE). There, you will have access to a rich array of multimedia materials such as online activities and self-tests, and you will be able to discuss topics with other students and your tutor on the course discussion board. This course is further supported by regular face-to-face tutorials.

 

Set textbook

The set textbook of MKT B365 Services Marketing is:

Wirtz, J and Lovelock, C (2018) Essentials of Services Marketing, 3rd edn, Essex: Pearson.

The Study Guide will indicate at which point you should read each chapter of the set textbook.

 

Introductory video

To start off, you should watch the introductory video for the course in the ePub version of this Course Guide or on the OLE. Then turn to the Study Guide for the first unit for further guidance through the course.

 

The Study Guide

The Study Guide serves two functions. First, it provides you with information on the aims, learning outcomes, assessment strategies and means of support for this course. Second, it sets out your study pathway through the set textbook and other course learning resources. You will therefore need to keep this document by your side as you work through the course.

The Study Guide is divided into five units. The titles of the units and the set textbook chapters they will cover are set out in the following table.

 

UnitTextbook reading
1. Understanding service markets, products and customersCh 1
Ch 2
Ch 3
Introduction to services marketing
Consumer behaviour in a services context
Positioning services in competitive markets
2. Applying the 4 Ps of marketing to services

Ch 4
Ch 5
Ch 6
Ch 7

Developing service products and brands
Distributing services through physical and electronic channels
Setting prices and implementing revenue management
Promoting services and educating customers
3. Managing the customer interfaceCh 8
Ch 9
Ch 10
Ch 11
Designing service processes
Balancing demand and capacity
Crafting the service environment
Managing people for service advantage
4. Developing customer relationshipCh 12
Ch 13
Managing relationships and building loyalty
Complaint handling and service recovery
5. Striving for service excellenceCh 14
Ch 15
Improving service quality and productivity
Building a world-class service organization

 

The Study Guide units direct you to work on exercises and activities related to the material covered. They can both help you gauge your progress and reinforce your understanding of the material covered in the unit. More importantly, they give examples to help you fully understand the concepts presented in the text, and can assist you in applying these concepts and techniques in the working environment. Together with the assignment, the activities will assist you in achieving the learning outcomes of the course. Also, you can read quality journals, online material and newspapers on related issues to keep pace with the latest developments.

 

Supplementary video lectures

A series of supplementary video lectures will be provided for this course, which aim to provide an overview of the major concepts covered in each unit. These videos will be uploaded to the OLE in due course. You are advised to watch them for an overview of the unit’s topics before you start studying the unit. Please also download and skim through the related PowerPoint slides, which are also available on the OLE.

 

The Online Learning Environment (OLE)

This course is supported by the HKMU’s Online Learning Environment (OLE). You will find course materials and the latest course information on the OLE. You can also communicate with your tutor, the Course Coordinator and classmates through the OLE discussion board.

 

Face-to-face support

Throughout this course, regular tutorial support will be provided. There will be five tutorials, each lasting two hours. Tutorials are not lectures. They provide you with an opportunity to discuss any problems you are having with the study materials. They also provide you with a good opportunity to discuss the course assignments.

While tutorials are not compulsory, attendance is strongly recommended. Tutorials are not only a time to discuss the course content and assignments with your tutor, but they also give you a chance to meet and interact with other MKT B365 students.

At the commencement of this course, a tutor will be assigned to help you in your study. Please note that much of your communication with HKMU during the course will be with your tutor, who will mark your assignment and offer timely feedback. Your tutor is eager to help you complete this course successfully, and will closely monitor your learning progress by keeping regular contact with you. If you encounter difficulties in your studies, you should always turn to your tutor for assistance. It is believed that learners who maintain regular contact with their tutors often achieve better performance in their studies.

You will be informed of the name and telephone number of your tutor once you are assigned to a tutorial group. Your tutor will set aside certain preferred hours of contact every week in order to attend to your telephone queries. They will inform you of these preferred hours in the first tutorial session. Please show consideration for your tutor by making telephone contact only during the preferred hours.

Do not hesitate to contact your tutor by telephone if you need help. The following might be some typical circumstances in which you would find help necessary. Contact your tutor if:

  • you do not understand any part of the units or the assigned readings;
  • you have any difficulty with self-tests or practice exercises; or
  • you have a question or problem with the assignment, with your tutor’s comments on or grading of the assignment.

You will be notified of the dates, times and location of the formal tutorials, together with the name, phone number and telephone tutoring hours of your tutor, as soon as you are allocated a tutorial group.

Tutors are required to start face-to-face sessions on time. If a tutor fails to turn up 30 minutes after the scheduled starting time, learners may assume the session is cancelled and should report the case to the Course Coordinator for the arrangement of a make-up session.

Your tutor is responsible for grading your submitted assignments. If you disagree with the grading, try to resolve the issue with your tutor. Remember your tutor is your first point of contact with HKMU in all academic matters. If your tutor is unable to resolve a problem, then you should contact the Course Coordinator immediately.

 

Assessment

The assessment for this course includes three parts: one assignment, five online quizzes and a two-hour final examination. The assignment and online quizzes serve as the continuous assessment component within the study period and contribute a total of 40% of the total course mark. The other 60% is based on the final examination.

The assessment items are summarized in the following table.

 

AssessmentUnits coveredWeighting
Five online quizzesAll units2% × 5 = 10%
AssignmentUnits 1 to 430%
Final examinationAll units60%
Total100%

 

You are required to pass both the continuous assessment component and the final examination to obtain a pass in this course.

 

Assignment

There is only one compulsory assignment for the course. The assignment will cover the first four units. You will get feedback from your tutor before the final examination. For details of the assignment, please refer to the Assignment File.

 

How to submit assignment

You must use word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) to prepare the assignments and submit the assignments via the OLE. All assignments must be uploaded to the OLE by the due date.

Failure to upload an assignment in the required format to the OLE may result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

 

Assignment extension policy

The assignment policy of the University as stated in the Student Handbook should be observed. You are required to submit the assignment for this course in accordance with the date communicated by your Course Coordinator. You may apply for a submission extension on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances.

Applications for extensions of up to seven days should be submitted to the tutor. The tutor shall consider valid and unexpected emergencies on an individual basis. Normally, documented proof of the extenuating circumstances is not required for extensions of up to seven days. The tutor shall decide and advise you of the revised date for submission.

For extensions of over seven days, you should note the following:

  1. If you require an extension of more than seven days on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances, you are required to complete the ‘Application form for assignment extension over seven days’ and submit it to the Course Coordinator.
  2. Supporting documents must be submitted along with the application for extension of over seven days to justify the claim.
  3. Applications for extension should normally be lodged before or on the due date.
  4. Applications are considered by:
    a. the Course Coordinator for extensions of 8 to 21 days; and
    b. the Dean for extensions of over 21 days.

After an assignment is submitted via the OLE, it is your responsibility to check that the assignment has been successfully submitted. Extension applications due to any problem with uploading will not be accepted. The University cannot accept any responsibility for assignments that are not received by your tutor due to any problem with submission via the OLE. As a precaution, you are advised to keep a copy of each assignment you submit.

According to the University’s policy, no extension of the due date will be allowed for the final assignment. This policy will be strictly enforced. Any late submission of the final assignment will result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

 

Online quizzes

There are five short online quizzes, one for each unit. Each online quiz is worth 2% of the course score, and altogether they account for 10% of the course score. The questions in the online quizzes are multiple-choice questions which are designed to test your understanding of the concepts presented in each unit. The online quizzes will be available on the OLE for a set period of time (details will be posted on the OLE), and you can only do the quiz during that period. Within the specified period, you can attempt the quiz one time and submit your answers before the quiz closes. Once you have submitted your answers, you will not be able to change or re-submit them again. If you open a quiz on the OLE but do not attempt it, you will get zero marks for that quiz.

 

Examination

The final examination is a two-hour, closed-book examination which is worth 60% of the total course grade. The final examination will be similar in format and type of question to the Specimen Examination provided. Please note that all material covered in the assigned readings and the Study Guide are examinable.

Case studies are a useful and increasingly popular form of learning and assessment in the HKMU’s School of Business and Administration. In this section we will look at why case studies are used and then suggest some learning strategies that you can use to approach case studies. We will also briefly discuss some problems that you may encounter as you learn from case studies.

 

What is a case study approach to learning

One main purpose of a case study is to explore an issue or a number of issues in relation to an organization. The intention is to get you to carefully diagnose an organization, to focus on key problems, and to suggest how these might be resolved. Often the case is a real-life account of an organization which you are required to analyse in order to focus on a problem. Usually, the information that is provided is incomplete and you are often expected to observe developments in the organization over a period of time. The case study approach is an excellent opportunity to actively apply material that you have read and conceptual knowledge to the reality of an organization.

At HKMU, case studies may be used as part of assignments, exams, study units, or dayschool exercises. You normally are given some information about a company (this could be both text and graphical information, such as figures and tables). You are then asked to think about some problems related to the company and to use concepts and apply theories that you have learned in your course to propose possible solutions for the company.

Let’s have a look at two kinds of case study questions that you might be asked to work through in your courses. The first example is quite structured, while the second is much more open-ended.

 

Two examples of case study questions

  1. Read the case study entitled ‘ABC Consultants’ and consider the following issues:
    • Using your understanding of the resource-based model, what measures could be taken to improve ABC’s returns?
    • Drawing on your broad understanding of the consultancy industry, assess ABC’s relative competitiveness and its profit potential.
    • To what extent do internal factors account for ABC’s financial weaknesses?
    • Based on your assessment of ABC’s financial weaknesses, formulate a new strategic intent and develop a mission statement for ABC.
  2. Read the case study entitled ‘XYZ Industries’.
    • Identify the key problems that are currently faced by XYZ’s management.
    • Propose viable solutions to these problems.

Why case studies

As you can see from the above examples, a case study approach to learning requires a great deal of thinking and often will not easily yield a quick ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ answer. However, case studies are also good preparation for dealing with real-life business problems. Cases may be short and relatively simple, or longer and complex. The purpose is the same for both types: to give you an opportunity to develop your skills in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization under examination, to consider the processes at work within the organization, and to make decisions about future actions.

Case studies are not meant to replace textbooks, but rather to ask you to draw connections between theories and practice and to apply abstract ideas, concepts and principles to specific concrete situations. Consequently, case analysis develops a number of skills that are crucial in business. In particular, they help you to:

  • analyse complex, unstructured, sometimes ambiguous situations;
  • identify critical issues and problems;
  • question your own and others’ assumptions;
  • improve your problem-solving skills;
  • develop your ability to find alternatives and make informed decisions;
  • make decisions with incomplete information and think strategically;
  • self-educate yourself and draw on a broad range of resources and knowledge; and
  • present and justify your recommendations in writing.

You may find that there are many possible ‘right’ answers to the questions in a case study. This illustrates that there is often no single best way to responsibly manage and solve real-life business problems.

 

Some guidelines for analysing case studies

The following strategies should help you to successfully analyse case studies:

 

1 Read the case and become familiar with the facts

First, skim read the case to obtain a general understanding of the main point(s). Highlight or underline the pertinent points as you read.

Read the case again, and this time note down critical facts (such as names, time sequences, and where events occurred). Try to understand how events have influenced decisions. Identify the important individuals or stakeholders, and try to assess the importance of supporting information in the case. How reliable is this supporting information? Are there any gaps in the information that is given?

Make a note of any questions that you have as you read the case.

 

2 Assess the context of the case

Try to understand the environment of the organization and the wider context of the case. Ask yourself questions about:

  • The state of the organization: What is the state of this organization: good, bad or in- between? Usually this involves thinking about interpersonal relationships, and assessing production or financial problems.
  • Key players and systems: How do systems and people operate in this organization? Why do they operate like this? Are the systems undergoing change? How successful are the changes? Is there anyone who could sabotage any future strategy? Is there someone who can ensure the success of a future strategy?
  • Significant trends: How does this industry operate? What are the main or unique characteristics of the industry? What were they five or ten years ago, and what are they likely to be in the future? What impact are trends likely to have on the organization under investigation? How does this organization’s performance compare with that of competitors?
  • Constraints: Clearly identify all constraints in the case. A constraint may be viewed as anything (usually beyond the control of the organization) that may prevent an otherwise feasible course of action from becoming a success. What is outside the control of individuals in the case study? For example, it is unlikely that any company or individual in Hong Kong could prevent a foreign government from imposing tariff barriers on imports.

Doing a SWOT analysis is a good way to get a better understanding of the organization and the context or environment in which it is operating. A SWOT analysis considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of the organization, and the Opportunities and Threats which the organization faces in the external environment.

 

3 Recognize the case’s symptoms

Read the case again and as you read, try listing all the symptoms of the case. The symptoms of a case are not the problems, but they may help you to identify the problems. Symptoms are all the things that are undesirable or that are not as expected. For example, falling sales could be a symptom of several problems such as poor market segmentation, poor product quality, or problems in a supply chain. At this stage of your analysis, you should just try to observe all the symptoms, and avoid prematurely identifying problems or suggesting solutions. Like a doctor who examines a patient, you first need to observe and note all the symptoms before you can give a definite diagnosis of the problem. Think about how the symptoms may be interrelated.

Relationship diagrams, like the one below, may help you to see the relationships between symptoms.

 

case_study_Eng

 

4 Diagnose the case’s problems

After you have a good sense of the symptoms, you’re ready to determine key issues that need to be analysed more closely. You are now diagnosing the situation, like a doctor giving a diagnosis based on a patient’s symptoms. Ask yourself ‘what seems to be the trouble in this organization?’ and make a list of what you now perceive to be the key problem(s). You will probably need to go back to the details of the case and as you do this, you may add to or refine your list of potential problems.

If there are several problems, you need to order and prioritize them. You might want to number problems according to how you perceive their importance, or make a matrix, like the one below, which shows relationships between various criteria and each problem.

 

CriteriaProblem #1Problem #2Problem #3
Importance: What will happen if the problem is not addressed?   
Urgency: How quickly must this problem be solved?   
Centrality: To what extent does this problem cause others?   
Solvability: Can this problem actually be solved?   

 

Also try to establish if there are relationships or themes in common among the various problems. Perhaps different problems in your list are actually variations of a broader central problem.

Ask yourself what assumptions you have made about the case. Are these assumptions reasonable, and are they supported by the facts? Would other people objectively suggest the same problems, based on the facts that you have? Are you suggesting problems that are not supported by the facts of the case?

After you have considered and put into order the possible problems and questioned your assumptions relating to these problems, you should write a statement of the problems as you perceive them. Avoid suggesting solutions at this stage.

Once you have a problem statement, you need to find evidence in the case to support your problem diagnosis. Also, try to identify ideas, concepts and theories from your textbook and course units which help to explain what is happening in the case.

 

5 Formulate criteria for a ‘good’ solution and identify possible constraints to solutions

Before you propose a solution, you need to consider the characteristics of a ‘good’ solution. Obviously, your solution should bring benefits such as improved productivity, reduced costs or greater profits. However, it also needs to be viable and to accommodate the constraints that you have already identified, e.g. Is the solution legal? Is there a budget for this solution? Does it conflict with the organization’s culture?

Try to brainstorm alternative solutions. Aim to generate a broad and creative range of options and then try to rate each according to various criteria.

The following matrix demonstrates how this can be done.

 

 CostEase of implementationImpact on organization cultureImpact on profits
Option 1*******
Option 2*********
Option 3********

 

Also refer to ideas, concepts and theories from your course materials as you consider and assess each possible solution.

It’s often wise to propose a solution that allows for plausible alternatives if it should fail. Managers use the term satisfice when they are considering acceptable alternative solutions, that is, the solution is able to satisfy the situation while also making some realistic sacrifices to existing constraints. Therefore, it is a satisficing rather than a maximizing solution.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the possibility of taking no action. What will actually happen if no action is taken? Are any (or all) of the solutions less viable than taking no action at all?

 

6 Recommend a viable solution

After you have assessed the merits and pitfalls of each alternative solution, select the best solution for the situation.

Remember that the solution needs to be viable. Can the recommended solution be introduced? Are there the resources and the willingness to implement it? Be realistic about what may work. Explain why it is the best solution within the constraints of the existing context and explain how it can be applied to the organization. Suggest a time frame for the solution’s implementation.

Outline possible strategies for implementing your solution, either partially or completely. As many feasible courses of action as possible should be considered before you choose the one that seems the most likely to succeed. The more ideas you have, the greater your chance will be of finding a solution that will work well. The complexity of most organizational problems means that it is highly unlikely that one idea alone will correct the situation. Usually a combination of actions is required, and these need to be funded differently, timed carefully and staffed as necessary.

 

7 Present your solution as a written recommendation

Review your final solutions and then prepare a set of written recommendations. These should clearly outline your proposed solution in relation to the problems that you have identified. Your recommendations should also include details of why these solutions are the most appropriate given the circumstances and constraints of the case. Finally, you need to clearly state how and when your proposals will be implemented.

Your tutor and your course Assignment File can provide some guidelines on how to present your recommendations.

 

Some mistakes to avoid as you analyse cases

When you first tackle case studies, you should be careful to guard against the following mistakes:

  1. One of the most common mistakes made in case analysis is repeating or simply summarizing the facts of the case. Your tutor is already very familiar with the case details, so you do not have to restate them. You are required to use and analyse the facts, not repeat them. Your analysis should contain only enough case material to support your arguments. Therefore, be analytical!
  2. You may often be tempted to just deal with symptoms and ignore the causes of the problem. It is very important to analyse the background of the case (and the climate in which the events of the case unfold).
  3. Avoid discussing problems in isolation and do not overlook their interrelatedness. If you try to think in terms of ‘systems’ rather than in terms of individual problems, you are more likely to avoid this pitfall.
  4. Students often fail to state the assumptions underlying their analysis. If any important assumptions have been made, have you questioned them and are they reasonable and appropriate? Avoid selectively using and interpreting case material in order to justify a preconceived solution.
  5. Practical limitations and constraints may sometimes be overlooked. For example, a recommendation that a whole team be fired is probably unrealistic.
  6. A very common mistake is poor integration of the facts in the case with the concepts, principles and theories in the textbook. Such integration is vital. Ask yourself if relevant theories from your course have been fully and constructively applied.
  7. Finally, recommendations are too often not spelled out in detail or are unrealistic. A timetable for implementing them is also often not given.

Analysing cases poses many challenges, and this is one reason the case study method is so rewarding. It is a very active form of learning. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to gain managerial and organizational experience and should greatly increase your confidence to make informed decisions in the real world.

Good luck and we hope you enjoy working through the cases that you encounter!

MKT B365 Services Marketing is designed to provide you with the theories, concepts and tools to help you fully understand and apply concepts related to a range of marketing issues associated with services.

The course is presented through a mixture of printed and multimedia materials. As you work through MKT B365, you will need to refer to your Study Guide, your textbook and the OLE, and you are provided with support through regular face-to-face sessions.

Assessment for this course is done through one assignment, five online quizzes and a final examination.

We hope you will enjoy the course.

If you wish to defer your studies of this course until a later date, you should apply for deferment of studies. For the regulations governing deferment of studies, please refer to your Student Handbook. If you have applied for deferment of studies you should continue with your studies of this course and submit the required assignments until formal approval is given by the University. Should you have difficulty in submitting an assignment, you are advised to liaise with your Course Coordinator and apply for an assignment extension. Students who have been granted deferment of studies will not be allowed to submit assignments due before the date that their application for deferment of studies is received by Registry.

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