Professional Studies for Screen-Based Media
Foundation Degree South West
Internal Marketing and Customer Care

Service Delivery


It is easier to ensure tangible products are consistent compared to services, largely because people are so central in service delivery. One VW Golf is very much like the next and the next that roll off the production line. As a result consistent service delivery is critical to marketers. Think of McDonalds and one of the things they pride themselves on is the fact that a visit to any McDonalds is likely to be quite a similar experience in many ways. They have achieved a degree of service delivery consistency.

Understanding consumer behaviour (see section 8) also makes it clear how most modern day consumers have high expectations and don't want to wait to get what they want. So not only is consistency important but so is being responsive to customers.

Following the customers footsteps
Marketing is in part about putting the customer first. If your organisation offers a service one of the best ways of doing this is to 'follow them' as the service is being provided. We don't suggest you do this literally, as it is likely to make your customers leave! Instead you can plot a typical customers progress as the service is being experienced.

So for example imagine you worked for a sports centre. You would want to consider, observe and plot the various ways in which a user most often physically engages with your sports centre. For example:

  • How do they walk around?
  • Where they go first?
  • What places they stop at?
  • Which place do they ignore?

Is there a pattern to this and is so what might this be telling you about your service encounter. You might find that your shop outlet is in the wrong place (few people visit the area), you might also notice that there are two very distinctive ways in which your customers move about the sports centre. Some are focused on just getting changed and ready to play their sport, others might like to linger and seek out opportunities to socialise. It would be important for the sports centre managers to understand this and to have an idea of the size of each group. It could then consider any changes it needs to make in the layout and staffing levels throughout the building.

Stuart Perl, Regional Director of Marketing (EMEA), Cunard Line Seaborne Cruise Line.

Customer Satisfaction
It would be a strange company who did not want their customers to feel satisfied with the products/services they have purchased from them. But few bother to think long and hard about what satisfaction is. It can be summarised in the diagram below:

So a customer pops into a cafe and has some vague expectation that they will be able to get a quite cheap snack and finds that they ran out of cold drinks. Dissatisfaction results because their expectation was not met.

Stuart Perl, Regional Director of Marketing (EMEA), Cunard Line Seaborne Cruise Line.

Of course the real aim of marketers is to more than satisfy customers, it is to delight them by delivering more/better than they expected. So the customer goes to another caf˙ with the same expectations. This time he is offered a wide choice of food and drinks, and he notices that there is a section of the caf˙ labelled 'the cool spot', for customers who want to enjoy their food and drink with a gentle breeze blowing from the air conditioning machine. The result, a highly satisfied, even delighted customer because his expectations were exceeded.

Moments of Truth
This phrase has become well used in the last ten years referring to the point at which a specific customer expectation is either met or not. Many customers see it as a time when promises are fulfilled or broken. The customer determines these moments of truth because it is them who decide what is important as a service is being delivered to them.

Take for example a person visiting a theatre, for some the only really important part of this experience is the quality of the acting. If this is considered good they will leave satisfied. For others the quality of the food, their ability to get a drink at the bar without a huge queue and the view from their seat is essential. If these aspects do not live up to expectation they may well feel dissatisfied even if the acting itself is enjoyed.

What this tells us is that the marketer designing and delivering the service must treat all possible moments of truth as potentially vital.

Service recovery
We do not live in a perfect world, mistakes happen, we make decisions in good faith that do not always work out for the best. So in service delivery we must recognise that sometimes things are going to go wrong. If we recognise it might happen we are likely to be better prepared when it occurs. There is little value in saying to a customer who has just had poor service 'well that's never happened here before, you are the first'!

Research carried out in customer complaint departments is very interesting here. It suggests that the outcome of poor delivery, in terms of how the customer will feel and act, depend to a large extent on what the organisation does in response once the poor service has occurred. In other words organisations usually get a second chance with customers. Once poor service has been delivered they can make amends by responding to the situation positively, actively taking the lead and offering more than apologies to the initially dissatisfied customer. You can recover from a poor situation in which a customer is not happy by doing something about it.

To recover well you need to be prepared. So you need to have thought about possible mishaps and problem before hand. Employees need to know how they should respond to the situation and be given the power to do so, at the time.

An example: Someone checks into a hotel and does not like the room they are allocated (let's say it's too small), reception could, having anticipated that this may happen occasionally, be ready with alternative solutions. The customer moves from being dissatisfied to being very impressed by the way the complaint was handled. Alternatively the receptionist is not prepared and when faced with the complaint says he does not have the authority to do anything about it. The customer's levels of dissatisfaction are likely to increase. Of course we are not suggesting that you can always have a solution for customer complaints and dissatisfaction, you can however be prepared.

To help illustrate the potency of customer complaints visit the following web site, which offers advice on how to complain: With consumers getting more help and encouragement to complain all companies have to be even better prepared. Increasingly customers are also able to post details of their complaints about companies to websites, such as this: British Companies, complaints.

In recent years marketing has started to realise that one strategy that may be effective in enhancing customer care in a major way is to develop relationships with customers.