Unlike companies that produce tangible goods, service firms typically cannot rely on product advantage as a means for ensuring the success of a new service. Developing a competitive response to a tangible product may require significant investments of time and effort. In many cases, however, competitors can easily duplicate the core elements of a firm's new service. This fundamental difference between new products and new services means that managers who hope to find the keys to new‐service success must look to factors other than sustainable product advantage. Chris Storey and Christopher Easingwood suggest that managers must understand the totality of the service offering from the customer's perspective. They explain that the purchase of a service is influenced not only by the service itself, but also by such factors as the service firm's reputation and the quality of the customer's interaction with the firm's systems and staff—in other words, by the augmented service offering (ASO). Using the results of a study they conducted in the consumer financial services industry in the U.K., they identify the components of the ASO, and they examine the relative contributions of these components to the success of new services. In their model, the ASO comprises three elements: the service product, service augmentation, and marketing support. The core of the ASO—the service product—includes such dimensions as product quality, product distinctiveness, and perceived risk. The study's results suggest that improvements in the service product open up new opportunities for the firm, but have only modest effects on sales and profitability. Rounding out the ASO model are service augmentation and marketing support. Service augmentation encompasses such dimensions as distribution strength, staff‐customer interactions, and reputation. The customer recognizes and responds to these elements of the ASO, but they are not part of the product core. Marketing support involves those marketing and management actions that affect the quality of the product and its augmentation, even though customers typically are not aware of them. These elements include knowledge of the marketplace, training of contact staff, and internal marketing. Enhanced service augmentation has significant effects on profitability and sales for the firms in this study, but it does not offer enhanced opportunities. The marketing support elements contribute significantly to all aspects of performance for the firms in this study.
The Journal of Product Innovation Management – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1998
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