The Shift to Customer Service


You may wonder what, exactly, caused the economic shift to service away from manufacturing. Some of the more prominent reasons are described herebelow:

  • Increased efficiency in technology. Because of the development and improvement of machines and computers, production and quality have increased. Two resulting side effects have been an increased need for service industries to care for the technology, and a decrease in manufacturing.
  • Globalization of the economy: Beginning in the 1960s, when worldwide trade barriers were lowered, a variety of factors have contributed to expanded international cooperation and competition. Since that time, advances in technology, communications, diplomacy, and transportation have opened new markets and allowed decentralized worldwide access for production, sales, and service.
  • Deregulation of many industries: the 1970s saw deregulation of industries (e.g., airlines, telephone) alongwith oil embargoes and political unrest (Vietnam, Iran) reducing US competition while allowing other countries free access to those areas of the world. The rapid deregulation of major US public services, competition (with an emphasis on providing service excellence) has flourished.
  • More women entering the workforce: Because more women are in the workplace, many of the traditional roles in society have shifted out of necessity or convenience to service providers.
  • Desire to better use leisure time: More than ever, workers of developed nations enjoy increasing amounts of leisure time. This has heightened a desire to relax, enjoy children, and do other things they value—people want to use their free time in more personally satisfying ways. To accomplish this, they now rely more heavily on service industries to maintain their desired lifestyles.
  • Expectation of quality service: Most customers expect that they will receive a quality product or service. If their expectations are not met, customers simply pick up the phone to call or visit a competing company where they can receive what they think they paid for. This created a need for more and better trained customer service professionals.
  • Better educated customers: Not only are customers more highly educated, they are also well informed about price, quality, and value of products and services. This has occurred in part because of advertising and publicity by companies competing for market share by the activity of consumer information and advocacy groups.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Reinterpreting Products


Product is not what the engineer explicitly says it is, but what the consumer, implicitly demands that it shall be. Thus the consumer consumes not things, but expected benefits—not cosmetics, but the satisfactions of the allurements they promise; not quarter-inch drills, but quarter-inch holes; not stock in companies, but capital gains; not numerically controlled milling machines, but trouble-free and accurately smooth metal parts; not low-cal whipped cream, but self-rewarding indulgence combined with sophisticated convenience.

The product does not exist as a separate entity. The product is what the consumer perceives it to be. Consumer perceptions are strategically important at all stages of product development, from initial conceptualization to concept testing, to positioning, to designing, manufacturing, packaging, pricing, delivering, advertising, selling, financing, and servicing. Product analysis, therefore, embraces systematic research at all stages. The focus of such research is not on the product itself, but on the consumers and how they respond to the various alternatives at each stage.

To simplify the exposition I am drawing examples primarily from the field of consumer products, such as the tangible items found on the shelves of supermarkets, in department stores, appliances shops, and automobile showrooms. In doing so I am not overlooking the importance of the field of services, such as airlines, insurance companies, banks, and travel agents; or the field of industrial goods, such as computers, chemicals, textiles, and lift trucks. While there are some differences in marketing strategies from one category to the next, the underlying principle of delivering customer satisfaction is the same.

Therefore, the producer should analyze actual or potential product or service in terms of its ability to meet a consumer need or want. It is axiomatic that consumers cannot draw the blueprints or provide detailed specifications for producers. It is up to the business person to experiment with new products or services, or modifications of old ones, and test their acceptance in the marketplace. Advertising can then be used to point out their presumed need/want satisfying properties to would-be users.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight