Jeans for you – The Decision Making Choice

There’s something to be said about finding the right pair of shoes for your outfit or getting the perfect top that matches your slim fit jeans. At abof, our aim is just that, using innovative concepts such as 3D trial rooms and personalised feeds to showcase items that are best suited to your style. Continue reading “Jeans for you – The Decision Making Choice”

Engaging in Ergonomics | 5 Pro-Productivity Tips to Revamp Your Workplace

A dwindling return on your worker’s productivity can be disheartening for management. Finding ways to motivate your employees to try harder and be more productive is difficult, and promotions aren’t available to offer every day. Continue reading “Engaging in Ergonomics | 5 Pro-Productivity Tips to Revamp Your Workplace”

Latest Trends In Fine Dining Restaurants

Modern day dining in restaurants is not only to satisfy your biological needs but also to indulge in aesthetical arrangement of the place and stylish presentation of the food. Restaurants that supply food only in traditional methods will no longer thrive in their business. In other ways, it is easy to become number one and earn maximum through innovative methods introduced either in the place or in presenting the food or in both.

Finest example is Robert J. Sambol who has revolutionized the dining experience in his chain of restaurants ‘Bob’s Steak and Chop house’ in San Francisco, Nashville and Dallas. From 1993 till date the name ‘Bobs’ is well known for the superb cut meat and finest wine collections. Each restaurant has a separate personality successfully maintaining uniform dining experiences all through his restaurants. Customer treatment is also the same. Wherever they dine, they can feel the speciality of Bob’s. Continue reading “Latest Trends In Fine Dining Restaurants”

Modern services offered to customers by modern banks

In the new era of banking, banks in India shower their customers in India with a plethora of services to attract customers. Online banking and virtual banking are the latest offerings by the banking services in India.

Below mentioned are some of the services offered to customers by modern banks: Continue reading “Modern services offered to customers by modern banks”

British Airways – For they are truly fuelled by love

While flying, even the most seasoned flyers gets jitters. Who doesn’t have the occasional butterflies in the stomach? The same concerns are much higher for those who do not use airlines so frequently. For example, if we would want our parents to visit us, what would we not do, to ensure that they get an experience and care that they truly deserve. Check out this video from British Airways. Continue reading “British Airways – For they are truly fuelled by love”

How to sell house to millennials? A guide for the boomers group

Millennials, the Generation Y, is the most indecisive, impatient, comfort seeking, easily distracted, and freeloader kind of all times, in other words, is exactly what boomers are not. Boomers the good old class of people who know what they want and are ready to take efforts and time to make it happen. These two poles apart classes frequently cross paths, mostly with the Millennials being dependent on the latter. But here are going to discuss a scenario where the boomers are entirely dependent on the millennials – Sell their house! Continue reading “How to sell house to millennials? A guide for the boomers group”

Essential Services Every Business Needs

When reading through any guide to becoming a successful entrepreneur, there are some things that will inevitably come up: you’ll need determination to get your business started, creativity to get you out of difficult situations, and, of course you’ll need to know the ins and outs of the industry you plan to take over. While all of these traits are important, it’s equally important that you realize you won’t be able to run your business by yourself. Continue reading “Essential Services Every Business Needs”

What You Need to Consider When Starting a Healthcare Business of Any Kind

A healthcare business can be extremely satisfying because there are both emotional and financial rewards to be reaped. Job satisfaction is garnered through helping others, and healthcare businesses are in high demand, meaning there’s a lot of money to be made.  Continue reading “What You Need to Consider When Starting a Healthcare Business of Any Kind”

Letting Your Loyal Clients Know They Matter During the Holidays

The business world is overwhelmed with problems keeping customers loyal. It is a problem that extends well beyond the old fashioned notions of doing business, when people would cling to brand names and familiar businesses as a matter of principle. With the holidays approaching, sending loyal clients a designer Christmas card might be a nice touch to letting them know that they matter, but do modern clients receive such a gesture as warmly as former generations once did? Or are clients today less interested in subtle niceties, aware that businesses use such tactics just to pad their bottom line? With a consumer base that is far more educated and wise to marketing tactics today, being bombarded with marketing ploys on a daily basis, it really begs the question of what sort of approach works to keep clients loyal in a modern business environment. Continue reading “Letting Your Loyal Clients Know They Matter During the Holidays”

The Evolution Of Event Management

Event management is definitely something that evolved a lot in the past few years. It is a concept that is not at all new on the market. It has been around for a long time but it is just now that businesses start to pay attention to the services that are offered. Modern business actions are highly influenced by corporate events so hiring an event management firm now makes a whole lot of sense. In many situations it is actually crucial for the overall success of the event that is planned since the company that wants to organize the meeting will not have the necessary experience and connections to guarantee success. Continue reading “The Evolution Of Event Management”

The price of an airline ticket

Ever wondered what makes up the price of an airline ticket? It is not exactly rocket science though it becomes pretty difficult to understand the nuances of fluctuations. Airlines are one of the hottest services industry. So what causes these changes? We are about to explain. Continue reading “The price of an airline ticket”

What to Look For in a Serviced Rented Office

If you’re looking for a new business property for your company then a serviced office can be a great solution. Typically located in a business center and leased on a monthly business, you can pay a fixed rate which covers rent, rates, service charge, utilities, cleaning and core office furniture. But what should you consider when looking for the right serviced office for you? Here are some tips on things to look for. Continue reading “What to Look For in a Serviced Rented Office”

Going The Extra Mile: Customer Service Essentials

 Given the technological advancements of the past decade – in particular the internet – customers now have a staggeringly vast choice in terms of the products and services they consume. Each year, countless new companies emerge on the scene, each trying to undercut the prices of those who’ve come before them. Undeniably, in a buyer’s market, perceived value for money is paramount. But what else marks the distinction between businesses that succeed and businesses that don’t? Without at doubt, customer service or “the buying experience” have a massive part to play as well. Here are some essential areas to focus on. Continue reading “Going The Extra Mile: Customer Service Essentials”

7 Ps of Services Marketing – Framework Limitations

The 7 Ps of services marketing is indeed a popular framework used by marketing professionals to design the critical dimensions of the strategic blueprint while marketing a service. The services marketing mix is dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence. In fact, the 7 P framework is one of the most popular framework for deciding a marketing strategy for services in domains like banking, information technology enabled services or hospitality and tourism, right from strategy formulation to actual implementation.

However, one needs to be aware of the limitations of this framework while applying it in a business context. So in this article, we will discuss some of the major limitations of this services marketing framework.

One of the major drawbacks of the 7 P framework is that it does not address issues related to productivity in terms of both quantity and quality of service delivery. In integral services management, improving productivity during service is a requisite in overall cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers. These two deliverables are essentially opposite to each other in terms of goals. A firm would want to pursue a strategy involving cost minimization but still quality maximization. Hence a strategy that manages trade-off between such conflicting goals is needed to be optimized.

Similarly, another major important issue is managing the core competencies embedded within a firm. Services are essentially intangible in nature, by its very definition. Processes like service delivery address only a small part of the larger cake. Drawing from the resource based view, the organizational competencies are not matched through this framework, which is one of the building pillars of developing strategic frameworks which are external in nature. The viewing of internal resources in silos is somewhat a barrier for this framework, if used to develop an actionable strategy.

Another limitation of this framework is that it does not provide a mapping between the pricing strategies that needs to be followed, vis-a-vis the productivized version of the service. That mapping is often one of the most important drivers that can create or break the adoption of a service. A mapping of pricing to the critical dimensions (features) of the productivized service draws its theories from the pricing of services, which are often done in silos, since dimensions cannot be identified which are in unision but not over-lapping to the main delivery. Over-lapping dimensions create a perception of fluctuating utility among the consumers, and since these are intangible, the overall valuation of the importance and value of a service, gets impacted in a major way.

Understanding the limitations of any theoretical framework before applying it to practical scenarios is crucial for the success of the strategic plan. Please let us know, what you feel about this article. By the way, did you read about the 8 Ps of marketing, the new age marketing mix?

Pricing models for Outsourcing and BPOs

Outsourcing in current times is more value adding exercise done to enhance competitive advantage by focusing on the areas of core competency rather than just a cost saving practice, as it used to be. Its role as a business-value-creator is established across the world in terms of long-term gains like increased customer satisfaction and decreased customer churn along with short term cost cutting. Along with changes in outsourcing objectives and practices, the pricing models also keep changing in the outsourcing industry.

A transaction based pricing model is based totally on the number of transactions. It draws theory from the concept of economics of scale from resource sharing and usage based pricing. In this pricing model the client typically pays the service provider for individual transactions or per unit of work performed by the resources deployed. In such a model, SMEs benefit drastically from resource sharing with overall lower cost of outsourcing. An average base level of transaction is defined in the SOW, the fluctuation from which impacts the per-transaction base level pricing, in this model.

Similarly, an FTE based pricing model is one where the client pays for the time & material invested directly by the service provider. Often in outsourcing contracts, this is further broken down into multiple categories dependent on the expertise of the resources deployed, complexity of tasks performed (which impacts turn-around time of task completion), degree of domain experience and onshore/offshore presence. Typically these are fully loaded costs with often standardized SOWs including factors like number and level of resources deployed; infrastructure and external dependencies bundled into the price points.

While another variation of pricing models that can under serious contemplation is the Risk/Reward sharing pricing models, where the benefits and the losses of the services outsourced are shared amongst the partners. This is a move towards greater collaboration between separate partners in a value chain. However, for such a pricing model to be really successful there has to be significant maturity in the process level which can then be mapped to quantifiable benefits. As of now, since the services rendered by BPOs/KPOs are yet to reach the required level of maturity, these pricing models are yet to be adopted as industry standards.

Next comes the big question: When to choose which pricing model? Typically transaction-based pricing models would be more suitable for Small or Medium sized organizations where transaction count would not be significantly high. In such organization, keeping a dedicated division (with active resources) would be more cost-intensive than sourcing it to third party service providers. Thus in such scenarios, a transaction based costing would be more beneficial. Similarly, if the transaction volume is on the higher side, a FTE based pricing model (and outsourcing SOW) would be more cost effective and thus more suitable for the organization. Also, if the transaction levels are subject to high degree of fluctuation, a transaction based model (and thus the SOW) is more suitable and beneficial for both the parties involved in the deal.
Do let us know if you have any feedback in this context.

Pricing of Telecommunication Network Services

Pricing is one of the key components of services marketing. Service providers like that of telecom service providers, often are at a major dilemma, how to price their offerings? What would be a sensitive price point for converting a potential target customer into an actual consumer? The divide between perceived value of  a service and its perceived cost would often vary across segments of customers for the same service offering.

So how should a pricing manager go about pricing network services?

Typically some of the more classical approaches in pricing Telecommunication Network Services are as follows:

  • Maximization of consumer surplus
  • Welfare maximization
  • Peak load pricing
  • Pareto optimal pricing
  • Ramsey prices
  • Cost based pricing

Here the objective of the pricing manager would be to set a pricing technique which depends on measurable parameters

  • Fully distributed cost pricing (preferred by regulator)
  • It may obscure the fact of inefficient technology
  • Over provisioning of infrastructure
  • Long run incremental cost approach
    • It may be costly to implement

    This pricing technique must ensure that if not at an individual service level, at least at a service bundle level, the price bundles post consumption must be profitable to the service provider.

    Another  major challenge for the pricing manager is how to apportion the cost when same resource produces two services (voice and video). This becomes extensively critical when a cost based pricing mechanism is used. It is important to note at this point that decisions, if not prudently taken, would turn a Business Unit of the service provider into a potential cost center without strategic deliverables. Cost apportionment is especially problematic and questionable in an industry marked by production not directly proportional to input materials (as all services are, where the intellectual capital matters a lot more than tangible artifacts).

    To take care of this challenge, one may approach this dilemma using the following approaches:

    • Subsidy free (very difficult to decide on the price)
    • Sustainable (Ramsey pricing)
    • Activity based costing : It is based on a hierarchy of four levels and is a refinement of FDC approach

    Another major issue is Pricing Services Bundles. Pricing is a major decision point in the adoption of service bundles, especially when the key differentiators are extremely intangible in nature. That again is another ball game. If you find that interesting, you can go through the following article of mine: A Model for Bundling Mobile Value Added Services using Neural Networks, 2012, International Journal of Applied Decision Sciences, Vol. 5, No. 1.

    Do get back to me if you have any queries.

     

     

    Location Based Services

    Location-Based Services (LBS) typically are information based or entertainment providing services, accessible with mobile devices like smart phones, web-enabled phones, PDAs, Notepads and Palmtops through the services of a telecom network provider. Typically these services utilize the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device. These services are getting immensely popular as a tool for services marketing for B2C focused businesses. Continue reading “Location Based Services”

    Services Process Mapping

    Typically services are characterized by the 7 Ps of services marketing namely Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence.

    One of the crucial success factors for a service to gather acceptance amongst its target market is that of a proper mapping of one of the crucial dimensions of the 7 Ps, namely the Process.

    Process mapping in services marketing is simply a sequential workflow diagram to display a clearer understanding of a series of sequential processes or series of parallel processes that takes place while a service gets delivered to the customer. Processes are important to deliver consistency in quality in a service. Services being intangible, processes become all the more crucial to ensure standards are met with.

    Relative to a services marketing strategy, mapping of service processes ensures that a quantifiable way is used to determine where and in what amount current resources are being allocated. Once a service delivery manager knows exactly how the current resources are being used, he can optimally allocate resources in the future. It also helps to uncover inefficiencies and non-value added activities.

    Service process mapping also helps move services process from a reactive to a proactive mode. Bottlenecks in service delivery may be identified and the exercise helps to ensure that quantifiable structured improvement in the service delivery may be achieved by the service provider.

    Service-Process-Mapping

    The above framework gives a step my step description of how services should be mapped to ensure consistency in service quality delivery, which plays a key role in fulfilling customer expectations and thus ensure customer satisfaction.

    The benefits of following a services mapping exercise are as follows:

    • Focuses the workforce on the customer’s perspective of the service process.
    • Ensures more reliable and consistent service delivery processes across all units.
    • Increases cross-functional communication.
    • Improves the start-to-finish project time.
    • Serves as an excellent training aid for new employees.
    • Uncovers inefficiencies and non-value added activities.
    • Identifies obstacles and bottlenecks that are hampering the service delivery.
    • Provides management with the scope to make structured improvements.

    I hope the details provided in this article would be sufficient to chalk out a mapping for the processes of a service, prior to delivery. Do let us know if you have any query.

    Services marketing strategy

    Typically marketing of services is done following the services marketing mix using the 7 Ps framework unlike the marketing of products for which the marketing mix involves the 4 Ps framework. Today, marketing has evolved over time into a discipline of its own. Over time marketing managers have realized the sustainability of pull marketing than the traditional approach of push marketing strategies.

    The initial movement in marketing strategies was from a direct marketing scenario to brand marketing. In direct marketing, the marketing managers typically had a role of sales managers and the most important strategic focus was to ensure a incentive structure for the sales force, both internal salesmen and external salesforce (dealers, retailers, distributors) such that the one-to-one marketing could be done at the point of sales. However, it was realized that if a fraction of the sales force deviated or moved to another firm, the entire customer segment was lost to the business. The face of the product or service was essentially the sales force. Now as services gained in importance, it was realized that the differentiation of services was even more difficult based on tangible features like that of a product. This was when brand marketing started getting its due importance, where a pull strategy was implemented so as to “pull” the customer to the product or service based on his perception of the quality of the same.

    However, with services gaining prominence over time, it was realized that the very definition of services was evolving as more and more services were being focused on internet or info-tech based services where direct interaction with the customer was lost. While branding definitely ensured that the customers develop a brand association with the service, sometimes the nature of the service is such that the essence of the service is a transactional one. So brand marketing focus gradually started to shift towards customer engagement and the benefits of social networks started getting conceptualized. This paved the way for the next generation of marketing, namely marketing using social media.

    Since services cannot be differentiated purely based on features on offer, the major differentiation to create a brand association and thus customer engagement, is through tapping the social networks. In the internet economy, social networks are getting increasingly dominated by social media and thus marketing managers of even larger traditional “brick and sell” firms have started recognizing this fact and focusing their efforts on social media marketing.

    The 7 S framework for digital marketing started gaining in prominence for services marketing strategists. While the dynamics of a pure internet marketing strategy is slightly different, the essence of the same has been captured in more comprehensive frameworks on digital marketing, which have been derived purely through the theories based on economic rationality.

    Over time, it was realized that social media is perhaps the biggest tool today to lead a brand marketing strategy for many of the services and product categories, since in both cases, the target segment often uses the internet as a source of information (through websites or though the personal social network) while deciding on a service vendor. It is at the point of information search that social media marketing can create the largest impact and thus builds its reputation for having a high impact on “brand recall” at the “point of purchase”.

    Do let us know if you have any feedback regarding this article.

    The 8 Ps of Services Marketing

    Services are radically different from products and need to be marketed very differently. So the classical 4 P structure of the Marketing Mix needs to be modified suitably to incorporate the 8 Ps for services marketing, which was previously known as the 7 Ps only.

    Services can range from financial services provided by the banks to technology services provided by the IT company or hospitality services provided by hotels and restaurants or even a blog where an author provides a service (information presentation, interesting reading etc) to his audience. Services marketing are dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence.

    To know more in details about the classical 7 Ps of services marketing do visit our article on The 7 Ps of services marketing

    While everyone knows about the 7 Ps of services marketing, the 8th P of Services Marketing has emerged in research very recently. The 8th P is Productivity and Quality.

    In integral services management, improving productivity is a requisite in cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers.

    It has been recognized that overall profitability of a firm may be greatly impacted by focusing on not only at the top-line by improving sales but also focusing on the bottom-line by lowering over-all cost of delivering services. In services management, often the variable costs are a lot more than fixed costs, and so incremental costs, if managed properly can have a huge impact on productivity. So for services, a firm may greatly benefit through proper re-engineering of processes and remodeling the same if required to improve productivity at each stage.

    It has also been established in research that process improvements deliver better standardization and hence better quality in services. Quality perception is a crucial differentiating factor on services management and for long term sustainability of the same. Business Process Remodeling can lead to major process efficiency improvements which again can impact overall quality as is actually delivered by the firm and is also perceived by the customers / clientele .

    8-Ps

    Do let us know if you liked our article or if you have any questions.

    By the way, have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

    Also did you read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies from which the 7 P Marketing Mix theory actually evolves?