Service organisation Essay Example

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18SERVICE ORGANIZATION (APPLE)

Service Organization (Apple)

Introduction

In the modern competitive business world, there are many marketing complexities that require different management activities and services. Some of these management activities and services, other than organizational management principles are oriented towards satisfaction of the customers. According to Fisk, et al. (2014, p.24-7), the central focus of service provisions involves the aspects of the 3p’s, i.e. the people, physical evidence, and the process that drive the service provisions and characteristics such as intangibility, inseparability, variability, as well as perish-ability. From economic perspective, services are viewed as experiences that range over time intervals and complexities. As argued by Fanning (2014), the visible and the invisible components of wants are satisfied through different bundles of benefits of services that create experience for the consumer.

Consumers have become increasingly demanding considering that they not only want high quality products but also demand (expect) high quality customer services. In order to stay on course, delivering high quality products o the customers is an ongoing concern to managers. Consolidating their management skills and strategies to satisfy their customers’ needs, certain gaps exist occurs in the organization in the process of providing quality services (Chary, 2009). Over the last 4 to 5 years, Apple has been very successful in its service provisions and also in its new products development as well as launch. Some of the famous new product launches of Apple include the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

The company has kept its competitive bar on the winning end in among the related companies that compete for computer applications and stuffs. However, Apple’s extreme success is not only rooted on the new advanced products that the company offers, but also Apple has been equally successful in its creation of retail and customer service outlets across the globe, a fact that has enabled the mainframe of their marketing differentiation to reap a lot of benefits. This paper reports some of the practically experienced Apple services that have embraced the goodwill of many customers. More than that, the report intertwines the customer service offers as applied b Apple with the Apple’s marketing differentiation in terms of the GAP’s models.

Service Marketing

In marketing, services are the acts of performances that one party, such as Apple offers to another party, customer, which is basically intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. According to what Wagner & Zubey (2007) says, the dominant component of a service is intangible since its production may or may not be tied to any physical product. Many countries that have developed and advanced economies have the greatest portion of their workforce employed in the service industry. Apple is one of the firms that offer services and products of advanced technology such as computer accessories and applications. The firm uses its service offers, such as customer care, apps services, Apple educational services, Apple care services, among others. According to Apple, the presented brand is the company’s controlled communication of its identity through advertisement. On the other hand, the external brand communication refers to the information customers absorb about the company that essentially is uncontrolled by the company.

The ultimate focus of many marketers is based on meeting the customer needs, from a one-time sale to repeated sales, by considering the long and medium term perspective more than the short term. Getting new customers involves several technicalities in the competitive market, and therefore, they would rather invest on the actual customers of their products and services. Service delivery is the main focus in this study because lifetime value of the customers is very important for the success of the company’s sustainable growth, especially when they become loyal customers. According to Bhattacharjee (2006), effective marketing is a very extensive process that involves various strategies, skills, and task. In this case therefore, service quality compares the expectation of the customers with the real performance of the product in the market. Notably, a business firm with an excellent quality services will conquer many customer needs and increase their economic competitiveness in the industry

The marketing management of the company seems to understand the external environmental factors such as customer rating and how customers are the basic external stakeholder of any profit making organization. Notably, there are other factors such as customer services management and the interrelationships between the firm and the customers that determine the goodwill of the brand services and products (Anderson, et. al, 2004, pp. 56-61). These factors, combined with the customer’s experience, lead to increased brand awareness and brand meaning. Brand meaning refers to the customer’s dominant perceptions of the brand and hence differs from awareness. Both these factors put together lead to development of brand equity. In services marketing, unlike in product marketing, it is the customer’s experience that plays a very important role and even if his services experience differs from the advertising message, he will go more by his experience. Thus, the main differentiating role is played by the service performance.

According to the manufacturing perception, quality refers to a situation where the service has zero defects, conform to the requirements, fit to be used, as well as conforms to the required specifications. When the service quality arguments arose in the early 1980s, it was, as it is today, attached to the customer satisfaction, retention, competitive advantage, as well as long term profitability of the firm. However, Deaton & Muellbauer (1994) argues that quality is the satisfaction of the customer needs. Bhattacharjee (2006) also asserts that all these aspects of customers’ perception, service quality, and profitability are interdependent values in the product and service market. Reducing the number of defects in services and products has therefore been one of the major goals of marketers, by tailor-making products to suit the tastes and preferences of customers’ expectations and needs.

The Gaps Model of Service Quality

The marketers of services have been confounded through their approach to satisfying their customer needs. Notably, designing an all effective quality management alone cannot ensure the objective is achieved (Chary, 2009) .The Gaps Model of service quality views the service marketing from a structured and integrated perspective. The model was designed by Parasuraman, Zeitham, and Berry. This model positions the key strategies, concepts and service marketing decisions in the correct form that are achievable (Crefeld, 2011). Under this model, the customer gaps and the service provider gaps are addressed appropriately. Between the gaps, are the customer and the company (Rao, 2007). The customer expects quality service, and the company strives to provide that quality service to the customer. Although the model does not identify specific quality failures that may occur in a service organization, the GAP Model offers generic insights and solutions that can be successfully applied in service industries (Rao, 2007).

The aim of the model is to among other things to identify the gaps that exit between the customer expectation and the actual (real) service delivery provided by the service provider, in this case Apple, Inc. at different points of service delivery. The model also aims at pursuing ways of closing the gaps and improving the concerned customer services. The customer gap is the gap that exists between the customer expectations and the customer perceptions. It is the difference of the two factors mentioned above in the sense that what customer expects from the available resources may be different from the perceived services got from the service provided (Hoffman & Bateson, 2009). This may occur due to the influences of the cultural background, family lifestyle, personality, advertising, demographics, as well as past experiences with similar product or service (Crefeld, 2011).

The expectation may different from perception because the latter is concerned with the interaction of the customer with the actual service or product. In this case therefore, a customer oriented strategy should be devised in such a manner that it focuses on understanding of the target market, understanding the customer needs, as well as actualizing the customer expectations, through matching the expectation with the perceived quality of the services provided. Gap 1 exist when the service provider, Apple, Inc. in this case fail to identify what the customers expect. This has been one of the causes of poor service delivery among many service providers, whereby the provider of the service fail to understand the difference between the customers expectation of the service that they provide and their understanding (company’s understanding)of those expectations (Anderson, et. al, 2004, pp. 56-61). Out of my experience with Apple, their customer oriented services seems to understand the expectations of the customers in many ways.

Gap 2 is the gap that exists when the right service designs standard is not selected. In order to tailor make service or products to suit the precise interest and perception of the customer, acquiring accurate perceptions of the customers’ expectations are very necessary. Gap 2 is therefore the difference between companies’ understanding of the customer expectation and the development of the customer driven service designs and standards (Hoffman & Bateson, 2009). Apple’s service deliveries are well designed to meet those specific standards of their products and services. My experience with Apple made me realize that the company has put more performance standards in order to respond to customer requirements that are in most cases observably visible and are measured by customers. The customer services of the Apple is most completely rooted to closing these gaps that may exist between the company and its customers by delivering quality products, quality customer services, as well as designing products and services to match the customers’ expectations.

One of the principle objectives of Apple, Inc. is to serve their customers with the best and quality services and products. In most retail customer service outlets that are spread all over the globe, one of the outlets had the description of what their services involved. As I stepped into the store, the description of, ‘service and support from the people who know your Apple products best’ was well inscribed at the entrance. The sub-analysis of the statement had the extensions of AppleCare protection plan and AppleCare+. The customer service of this company had something that lacks in many electronic and computer firms, by being interested with my expectations and satisfactions. Filing these gaps that normally exist between customers and service providing companies seemed to be the focal goal of the firm. The other inscriptions stated one stop for technical support, Apple hardware coverage, software support also included.

Apple’s Background

Apple was founded inside a Palo Alto Garage by Steve Jobs (1955- 2011) and Steve Wozniak in 1976, the Apple Computer as previously known, started in California. Apple Incorporation is one of the best multinational companies that create, sell and provide consumer electronic services, computer software, and personal computers. This company majorly developed, manufactured and marketed personal computers popularly known as PCs as well as peripheral products for these PCs. They mainly targeted making sales to education institutions, government, business enterprises and the general consumer markets (Blumberg, Renery & Bunggaard, 2006). The company has over 363 stores worldwide and best on the previous financial status; the company has global sales of approximately US$16 billion annually. Through it recent creation and therefore provision of the iPod, iPad, and the iPhones series, the company has devised a competitive edge over its rivals in the industry. The marketing strategies of the Apple, Inc are best suited by analyzing its branded products and how the customer services are structured to satisfy their customers. First of all, as argued in the gaps model above, the main goal of Apple rest in determining the expectations if their customers, and trying to meet these expectations and satisfying them. In this case, it really becomes true that learning about the customer awareness of the available brands and capturing their loyalties has become the company’s secret of increasing their competitive edge (Anderson, et. al, 2004, pp. 56-67). In the industry coupled with increasing competition, the marketing strategies that are adopted and the customer services available help the company in staying at the top of the consumers’ mind, to cope up with changes, to gain the competitive edge, to attain the goals set by the company, to make improvements for future related services, to determine its pricing strategies, as well as to communicate its valuable services and products to its customers globally.

The Revolution and the New the Apple Inc

The Apple Company made numerous innovations which did not make big sales resulting in large scale job losses, reduction in the market share prices and even the sale of cloning license to the Power Computing Company. In 1997, the company recalled Steve Jobs to his position as the CEO. In 1998, the company sold 800, 000 units of iMac that used a Mac OS X operating system. The all-inclusive product boasted of two USB ports, attractiveness and transparent design and generated $ 309 million profit. This marked the beginning of the revolution of Apple as further partnerships innovation with companies such as the Intel, Microsoft and IBM (Blumberg, et al, 2006).

The California based company chose to venture into music industry away from its core business of personal computers and marked a huge success. The introduction of the iPod, iPad, iTunes Music Store and others, Apple sought to support the digital music revolution. For this function, the company moved quick to provide exquisite and portable music and music players to support online purchase and uploading of music. In the latter days, this company gained fame and popularity for its high quality and attractive products in many countries (Blumberg, et al, 2006). Basically, Apple has become the most valuable company and greatly appreciates innovation and survives innovation, modernity and vogue. For this reason, the company mainly focuses on employees with high creativity abilities and innovation values in electronics and Information Technology as well as responds better to the needs of the customers. The strategy best explains why the customer services department of Apple is more customer oriented compared to the customer services of other competitors. The main strategy employed for its long lived sustenance includes offering different electronic products of high information technology from those already in the market. This famous IT Company thrives by a concept that says “imperfect makes improvement” (Linzmayer, 2006). The Apple Inc., considered to be the global leader of electronic business, mainly targets a limited market of the middle and high income individuals in the developed countries. Following the proliferation of globalization, the Apple established retail shops in the developing countries.

Being in the IT market, the Apple Inc. faces some stiff competition from other companies like IBM, Blackberry and Samsung among others. However, the Apple services navigate the competition through a limited market in contrast to a wide distribution channel. The differentiation of these services from similar products currently available in the market makes it difficult to compare and integrate them. Thus, the Apple products remain to be incompatible with other secondary products from its competitors (Fanning, 2014).The depth of the various marketing strategies used by Steve Jobs in revolutionizing the Apple Inc. and popularity of its products has made the company to hold a long term leadership in electronic industry as well as a profound brand similar to the Mercedes in the Automobile industry and Nike in the sportswear industry. The healthy relationship established between the Apple Inc. Company and its customers highly serves to enhance its sales and dominance in the market. The Apple services promote comfortable lifestyles for the community of the higher end economic status. The high quality and social status of these products significantly build loyalty among customers of this company.

The customer services of Apple, Inc

Awareness of the employee strengths and personalities in relation to appropriate allocation of roles and responsibilities massively influences customer satisfaction Li (2002, p. 24) argued that the success of businesses depended on satisfaction of the needs of its customers. More than that, consumers gain interest for services that meets their personal needs and values. The distribution channels envisioned by this company mainly focus on customer more than it does focus on its retailers and any middle men. This concept identified as the business to consumer (B2C) relationship forms positively builds customer loyalty (Fanning, 2014). In addition, along with providing coupons, offers, gifts and products that stimulate customer trial the company values the feedback from its customers thereby creating loyalty (Wagner &Zubey, 2007).

In line with the Gaps model analysis, the Apple Inc. brand serves as a net for its product differentiation in the market. Recommendations of high quality services serve to boost sales for the Apple brand products all over in the world. The products of the Apple brand include computers, phones and digital music revolution products and services. The phones mainly include the iPhone, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. The computers include the iMac, eMac, Mac Pro, iBook, the Mac book and the Mac Books Pro and Air. In addition the digital products include the iPod, the IPods (Nano, Classic and Touch) and the Apple TV.

Establishing competitive advantage for sustenance of the Apple Computer amidst the changing trends and stiff competition could be attributed to the value enhance activity of the firm. The introduction of the IPod in the rise of digital music revolution as a first of its kind received a mixed reactions from its competitors and consumers. Mainly, the competitors rebuked the product and associated it with short life span while as the consumers made overwhelming purchases for the same. Within a year of its release, the Dell, Creative Company and Gateway filled the market with imitations of the IPod at cheaper prices. Contrary to expectation that the IPod would fizzle away, the Apple Company made improvements on the iPod design and a further increase in its memory thereby having the IPod Shuffle, Nano and Touch (Fanning, 2014). Consequently, this serves to create product leadership amidst all the competition for the company.

Operation excellence

The management team of the Apple Inc. falls into two big categories that include the corporate part and retailer part. Mainly, the corporate part takes credit for the sustenance of the firm and the excellence of its products and services in the market. As previously noted, the company strategically picks out young innovative individuals for their staff. The common goal to enhance quality for its innovations served to instill hardworking culture and progressive creativity among its staff members. Furthermore, the company values high achieving staff members and gives great rewards for the same. This enhances ownership of the staff in the excellent valuation of the company and the excellence of its products in the market (Li, 2002).

In internal marketing, the management mainly takes initiative to motivate the staff towards positive relations with themselves, the customer and process that generates ultimate services. Since time immemorial, the needs of the consumers were believed to progressively change with time. On the contrary, the late Steve Jobs noted that consumers may not know product possibilities and for that reason, according to Blumberg, et al., (2006), the Apple employees were indebted to think differently in innovation of inexistent products that promise to improve customer satisfaction. The customer services of Apple Inc involve motivated employees who are aggressive and passionate in promoting customer satisfaction.

Location of the Apple Stores

The strategic location of the aesthetic Apple stores and Apple App stores serves as a boost for the ultimate sales and delivery of its service and products. In addition the Apple staff consistently receives training on customer management. The focus of the special treatment of every customer that enters the stores by the employees adds on to the numerous competitive advantages identified by the company at large. The un-divided attention communication and information provided to the customers contributes to the overall customer satisfaction and the good will of the company. Also, the Apple employees on the front ends go through rigorous public relations training more than those that interact with people directly. Apple Inc. appreciates the diversity of cultures of its customers and thereby employs versatile employees with versatile knowledge on relating with the customers (Anderson & Kerr, 2002).

The company focused in in-depth communication among its employees and customers through various channels such as the YouTube and the retail shops which highly welcomed feedback. Through strategic communication all the above stated strategies positively contributed to the revolution and sustainability of the Apple Inc. company. Through communication in marketing and other platforms, the company successively attracted new customers, while as retaining the current ones as well as establishing appropriate relationship (Fanning, 2014). Through the inform, persuade and remind strategies using platforms such as the twitter handles and Facebook pages the company experienced increased sales, higher business value and reduction in operation costs.

Importance of the Gaps model as used by Apple, Incorporation

The most important responsibility of the management of any firm is to maximize profit and sales. In order to do that, the customers become very important stakeholders of every profit making organization. In this case therefore, the management must fully understand and provide the needs of their customers. Understanding the Gaps Model provides special skills and management knowledge about some of the key elements of customer delivery that may improve the customer expectations and perception as well as linking them with the actual qualities of the services. Apple prioritizes their customers that much that their expectations and ratings have been their strategic hunger and determinations. Through their valued customer services deliveries, the company spreads its ranges of valued products and services to different market niches and segments, a trend that has made the company to top the electronic and computer industry in the globe.

In order to deliver software and technical services for example, in this company, Apple must bridge the gaps that may exist between them and their customers. Through feedback mechanisms and welcomed customer appreciations, analysis, prejudice or encouragements, Apple management understands the difference between their customer perception and expectations of their services. There is a knowledge gaps that normally exist between the consumers and service providers of services like computer services. Many people do not understand the benefits, as well as costs associated with these services. Apple, Inc’s main goal in this case seemed to close these gaps and make their customers have the necessary and the expected services pacts as offered by the firm.

Through the process of understanding the expectation of the customers though the Gaps model, marketers and managers of many organizations normally strive to determine some of the unique characteristics that the customers’ wants as far as these products and services are concerned (Hoffman & Bateson, 2009). Customer expectation in this case refers to personal needs and expectations (which are influenced through advertisements), dissonance (over time changes of customer perceptions), and the fact that different customers have different expectations. In order to reduce the problems that come with gap two, top management of Apple seem to be committed to providing the customers with high level service quality. The most normal situation in most firms is that they neglect quality service delivery to aspects of cost reduction, gross sales, as well as high profit margin without considering the level of quality of their services (Crefeld, 2011). Reducing the gap two situations requires goal setting arrangements and logistics within the customer expectation in mind. Therefore, customer orientations, as well as task orientations are hand in hand important in the process of reducing this gap.

Conclusion

Although having retail stores have miserably failed for many firms in the world, it has however been successful for Apple. From the company analysis, Apple has been very careful in terms of how people buy their products and services. Through these retail outlets experiences with the customers, more services that extend the company’s competitive edge have been delivered to customers. My experience with the Apple’s customer services made me realize that their move to establish numerous stores was strategic and aimed capturing their customers’ expectations and feedbacks in order to create valued products that sell well in the market. By aiming to bridge the gaps that exist between their products and customer expectations, Apple has survived the competitive electronic industry, rivaling the likes of Microsoft, IBM, and Samsung.

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