Service marketing

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With services marketing (Engl. Services Marketing and Marketing of Services ) is called in business administration a relationship and value-oriented approach to marketing , which deals with the marketing problems of service providers engaged.

Structurally, the marketing of service providers has a lot in common with the marketing of material goods manufacturers . In terms of content, however, there are numerous differences, as services have a characteristic essential difference to material goods (see section “Special features”). “Service marketing” therefore does not describe the entire marketing of service providers, but only those aspects in which their marketing differs from that of the material goods manufacturer.

Differentiation of terms: service marketing


Outdoor advertising for a laundry service (1950s): The butler as the epitome of the "subservient spirit"

For the meaning of the role terms : see service (process model) .

A service  - hereinafter referred to as "service" for short - differs from a material good in the following point:

A service is an immaterial good ; the consumer therefore does not receive any physical product.

This difference has a serious impact on marketing. H. the design of the market relationships of service providers:

  • A service as such cannot be stored. It cannot therefore be produced in advance (example: theater performance, passenger transport).
  • It follows from this: If a service provider offers a service, he can initially only make a promise of performance, since the service still has to be provided . To face a prospect his skills still credible to do, the service provider may alternatively (d. H. In a kind of circumstantial evidence ), for example,
    • appear and communicate seriously ,
    • explain how he intends to solve the prospective assignment,
    • refer to the age of the company,
    • refer to particularly loyal customers,
    • name prominent customers (so-called name dropping ),
    • refer to the size of the customer base ,
    • refer to the company's economic success in recent years,
    • send the interested party competence profiles of employees who are suitable for the execution of the prospective job,
    • describe the internal quality management ,
    • present the office equipment,
    • a sample of his skill store,
    • let the interested party watch the execution of a comparable order,
    • show the interested party a video that shows the service provider executing a comparable order,
    • show the interested party photos that show the initial and final status of a comparable order that the service provider has carried out,
    • Describe details of previous assignments that give an insight into the breadth and depth of the service provider's experience,
    • report on previous, successfully completed jobs that are similar to the job in prospect,
    • refer to a possible business award with which the service provider was awarded for special efforts in quality, innovation and environmental protection, or
    • refer to verifiable, positive references from trustworthy persons or institutions ( reference marketing ).
If the service provider succeeds in establishing its range of services as a brand with the relevant target groups (see branding ), it no longer needs to make its competence credible to every interested party. Rather, the brand trust , which is fed by the awareness and image of the brand, makes a large part of this persuasive work unnecessary. In other words: The brand gives the service provider a general leap of faith that comes into play in more or less every individual case.
  • A service as such is not transportable. Either the service consumer or the "object" on which the service is to be performed must visit the provider of the service, or the provider of the service must himself become the service consumer or the "object" on which the service is to be provided, go.
  • A service provided cannot be returned, but only - if at all - reversed (e.g. cancellation of a bank booking). The latter means providing another service.
  • The presence of the service consumer is absolutely necessary for the provision of many services. The provision (= performance) of the service by the service provider and the use (= consumption) by the service consumer then coincide in time and space (example: medical treatment). In the case of other services, however, the presence of the service consumer is not required when the service is provided. Often the result of the service provision is only used by the consumer after a time delay (example: ironing clothes).
  • For the provision of a service, input (e.g. participation, provision) from the service consumer is often required. (Example: In the case of consumer advice, the client must describe the facts to be assessed to the adviser.)
  • The quality of a service (so-called service quality ) must be assessed using different procedures and criteria than the quality of a material good (so-called product quality). In the case of a service, non-material aspects (e.g. punctuality, friendliness ) play a greater role, whereas in the case of material goods, material and functional aspects (e.g. durability, ergonomics ) play a greater role.
  • When providing a service, the service provider often has to deal with the service consumer personally. With regard to the quality of service, this makes special demands
  • the appearance, appearance, demeanor and behavior of the service provider as well
  • to the establishment, equipment, appearance and ambience of the environment in which the service is provided (so-called " servicescape ").
  • The more complex a service is and the less it can be broken down into simpler partial services (or service contributions),
  • the more the success of the service depends on the competence of the service provider and
  • The less it is possible to achieve profit growth through an increase in the use of human resources ( manpower ), since each additional resource unit works more inefficiently than the previous one (problem of degressive scalability ).

Marketing mix

Because of this problem, the marketing mix is expanded to include three points: the processes, the people and the physical evidence.

  • Processes : Describes all processes that are necessary to create the service in order to ensure customer satisfaction.
  • People : Every person who comes into contact with the customer has an impact on his or her satisfaction with the service. In particular, the appearance and the (professional) competence are of decisive importance in this context, since the customer often does not separate or cannot separate the actual service from the people.
  • Physical proof: Because the service is not physically tangible, the customer lacks important criteria for assessing the quality. As an alternative, the service provider can try to establish a physical reference using suitable measures. For example, insurance companies often hand over the insurance policies in relatively elaborately designed files or tour operators hand out printed T-shirts to tourists.

Customer satisfaction and trust

The sustainable quality of the service depends on the processes and the people involved. Therefore the formation of satisfaction and trust is of great importance. The basis for this is suitable training of the staff and often the creation of a meaningful corporate identity (company identity ).

This applies in particular to those service providers who, due to their work, may have extensive knowledge of the customer's financial and personal relationships, such as lawyers , tax consultants , insurance companies and banks . It is worthwhile for the company to enter into a long-term customer relationship with the customer ( relationship marketing ).

The customer's trust in the provider is often more difficult to acquire here than in industries with short-term customer relationships (e.g. tourism), especially since the transaction costs are higher when switching to another provider and there are errors in the business relationship for the customer cause serious problems.

Conversely, mistakes in marketing measures can lead to lasting disruptions in customer confidence and have a long-term impact on the earnings situation. For example, the separation of Deutsche Bank's private customer area into Deutsche Bank for wealthy private customers (individual customers) and Deutsche Bank 24 as an online bank for less wealthy customers led to irritation among those customers who did not make the hurdle to individual customers, because this connection - among other things recognizable on credit or debit card, also became known to third parties. Concerned about losing these customers, the bank stopped this project at short notice and no longer uses the Deutsche Bank 24 brand .

Distribution channels

See also


  1. For example, both service providers and material goods manufacturers have to conduct market research, carry out a competition analysis, define their “product” , think about advertising goals , messages, means and channels, set up a sales organization and much more.
  2. The result (= output) of a service can, however, be of a physical nature (examples: garbage can emptied by the garbage disposal; final report of a management consultancy study).
  3. However, the documentation of a service provided can be stored with the help of technical media (example: recording a bank booking on an electromagnetic data storage device). The latter can take on considerable dimensions with a corresponding quantity structure (e.g. data storage in a bank data center).
  4. Examples: "Traditional company for 120 years", "Family-owned for 70 years"
  5. Example: "... has been coming to us again and again for 25 years"
  6. Example: Visitors to an amusement park or festival can watch the rides there while they are in operation before they make use of them.
  7. Examples: customer quotes , customer reviews (e.g. in a customer magazine ), test reports , customer satisfaction studies , letters of recommendation , testimonials , certificates , master craftsman's diploma . - The same principle expresses the bon mot : "Did you like it / tasted it / ..., pass it on."
  8. Technical media for recording services provided and for copying, transmitting and distributing these recordings can, however, make certain services more or less transportable (examples: distribution of musical performances on DVDs (digital data carrier = material goods; data = image of the service); use of robots that are controlled by specialists at other locations via data lines ( telecontrol ); remote access by technical personnel to technical systems (e.g. telephone and industrial systems , computers ) for maintenance and repair purposes ( remote maintenance ).
  9. With the help of telecommunications media, the provision and consumption of such services can be spatially equalized (example: telephone advice). Technical recording and playback processes also often allow the provision of the service and the consumption of the service output to be temporally equalized (example: television programs recorded with a recorder).
  10. This does not mean, however, that the quality of services is necessarily more difficult to compare than the quality of material goods.
  11. The case word is made up of the English terms service and landscape ; see J. Bitner, B. Booms: Marketing strategies and organizational structures for service firms. In: J. Donnelly, W. George (Eds.): Marketing of services. American Marketing Association, Chicago 1981, ISBN 0-87757-148-1 .


  • Matthias H. Gouthier: Customer development in the service sector. German University Press, 2003.
  • Christian Coenen: Prosocial service provider behavior in customer contact. German University Press, 2005.
  • Matthias Gouthier, Christian Coenen, Henning Schulze, Christoph Wegmann: Service Excellence as a driving force. Wiesbaden 2007.
  • Heribert Meffert , Manfred Bruhn : Service Marketing. Basics, concepts, methods. Gabler, 2006, ISBN 3-409-43688-X .
  • Heribert Meffert, Manfred Bruhn: Excellence in service marketing. Case studies for customer orientation. Gabler, 2004, ISBN 3-409-11923-X .
  • Harry Beckwith: Selling the Invisible . 1997, ISBN 0-446-52094-2 .