Friday, December 13, 2013

Exude Conceptual Fluency in Services Retailing

When retailers sell services, the quality of the outcome counts. With house cleaning, financial planning, or any other services category, customers expect results. Still, as many consumer researchers have proven, customers also attend to the process through which the outcomes are achieved.
     The behavior of the personnel delivering the services communicates the degree of competence beyond what the outcome shows. Researchers at Northeastern University and Arizona State University say that when the services are delivered by the owner’s employees rather than by the owner herself, it’s essential that the employees are coached to understand, exemplify, and authentically project the brand image of the business.
     What’s called “conceptual fluency” is a key skill. When the employee is conceptually fluent, he repeatedly reminds the customer of that brand image. But the repetition must be creative. The retailer’s repetition works best if the service benefits, selling points, or usage instructions are presented in different ways. If your employees deliver an identical message again and again and again, the customer might come to believe it, but at some point, they also start disliking the provider. Consumer psychologists have a name for this one, too: Wear out.
     The brand images of successful services retailers will certainly encompass attentiveness, friendliness, and empathy toward the customers, and so it is these in which the employees should show high conceptual fluency. In fact, those three service relationship factors influence customer satisfaction to a greater extent than do service outcome factors, such how well the clothes dryer works after being repaired, if the cruise ship vacation met expectations, and even the extent of financial returns on investments.
     This is not to say that the outcomes of services are unimportant to consumers. But with many consumer services, it's difficult to tell how good the outcomes really are. The consumer pays for a lube and oil change on the family car, but how does she know if the extra-cost safety check was done properly? The patient is relieved that the dental work is over, but how can he know if things would have been less painful if he'd gone to a different dentist?
     Once your customers conclude that you’re a competent services provider, they usually prefer not to keep shopping around. The services provider is pleased to have the customer keep coming back, and the consumer is pleased to feel comfortable having a services provider to keep coming back to.

Click below for more: 
Impact Shoppers with Creative Repetition 
Emphasize Empathy in Providing Services 
Post Dramatic Tales for Post-Experience Goods

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