Servicescape Essay for a Beauty Shop
Servicescape refers to the components of the physical environment in which services are delivered. Also called physical evidence, it encompasses the physical attributes and ambience of the place where an organization and its customers interacts (Mattila & Wirtz 2001, p. 274). The concept of Servicescape is mostly associated with service organizations such as those in the hospitality, retail and banking industries. Because services are intangible, customers rely on physical evidence as well as tangible cues to assess satisfaction with a service before and after purchase (Liu & Jang 2009, p. 495). Generally, elements of servicescape encompass all physical aspects of an organization and tangible communication. These include interior and exterior design, parking, surrounding environment, equipment, employee dress and air quality among others. In competitive markets, organizations may rely on their servicescapes as a differentiation strategy (Lovelock, Patterson & Wirtz 2014, 14-17). As such, servicescape can be major source of competitive advantages for service organizations. The purpose of this essay is to identify the various forms of physical evidence an organization uses to communicate its message to customers and manage their expectations.
I visited a body care parlor located in downtown Canberra to collect evidence of servicescape. The facility (Alma Beauty) targets high end clients and offers various services such as hair care, facials, body massage and nail care. Owing to the nature of services offered and the kind of clients the facility targets, Alma has made servicescape an integral component of its business strategy. The facility has integrated various aspects of physical evidence to make a long lasting and positive impact on customer’s perception of its services. The most important of these aspects is the ambient condition. The facility is designed aesthetically with spacious service rooms and high ceiling to create an aura of openness and plenty. The rooms are beautifully decorated with exotic furniture, ceramic floor tires and high quality curtains. These are complemented with neutral and light fragrance which gives customers a relaxing aroma therapy (Morin, Dubé & Chebat 2007, p. 117).
At the entrance, there are four heavily-built and uniformed security officers, who receive and direct clients to the reception area. The presence of guards is an indication that the facility values the security and safety of its clients. In addition, there are CCTV cameras situated at strategic locations at the facility. All these security measures give an assurance on how much the facility values its customers (Naeem, Nawaz & Ishaq 2012, p. 1529). The reception area is served by two ladies who receive and usher customers to the various service centers within the facility. Unlike the security officers, the receptionists do not wear uniforms but have badges with their names. In each service room, slow tempo music can be heard from the background. This music gives a feeling of prestige and class. The attendants in the service room are immaculately dressed in official uniforms with a badge. They look professional, courteous and well mannered, a reflection of the nature of nature of services they offer. The number of male employees is roughly the same as that of female employees, an indication that the facility is sensitive to the issue of gender balance (Newman 2007, p. 19).
Alma’s staff has been specially trained to offer personalized and tailored attention to customers. In each service room, there are comfortable sofas for customers to rest as they are being attended. Each room and the reception hall are fully air conditioned. The main entrance is made of clear glass, which tells customers that they are welcome. A list of services and products is displayed neatly on the walls to give customers a quick view of what to expect. In addition, there are magazines and articles about body care services. The chemicals and products used in offering the services are displayed and kept in clear glass shelves to give a sense that they are clean from dust. Neatly dressed mannequins with make-ups and hair arts are placed all over so that customers can have an imagination of themselves wearing the same products (Nguyen 2006, p. 228).
The facility also uses the strategy of branding, symbols and signs as part of its physical evidence. Every product at the store is labeled ALMA, which exude prestige and self esteem (Pareigis, Edvardsson & Enquist 2011, p. 112). There are signs all over the place to direct clients. There are also separate washrooms for guests and staff. In addition, the facility provides free Wi-Fi and phone charging services for its clients. A major gap in Alma’s service space is that it is positioned as a high end beauty shop, thereby locking out price sensitive customers. The facility’s services are priced highly and beyond the reach of low-income earners.
Generally, Alma’s servicescape is an important marketing strategy through which it communicates with its customers and meets their expectations. The meticulous organization of the facility appeals to customers emotionally and cognitively. Everything at the facility creates an aesthetic appeal, suggesting elegance, class and dedication to customer service. Tombs and McColl-Kennedy (2003, p. 448) demonstrated that physical evidence should act as a facilitator for customer service and also as a differentiator for competitiveness. Its primary purpose is to develop the best impact on customers. It is for this reason that most service organizations are designed to appear attractive to customers as much as possible. As Reimer and Kuehn (2005, p. 789) explains a positive perception of customer service makes organizations to stand out from their competitors, which is crucial for meaningful participation in the market.
Overall, Alma’s servicescape experience shows that the facility attaches a lot of significance to physical evidence as this is perceived y customers to be a reflection of the quality of services offered. Studies show that customers are attracted to positive experience and therefore service organizations should carefully design pleasant and creative environments. In a way, the modern market place has become extremely competitive and is constantly changing due to evolution of technology and marketing techniques. Accordingly, customers’ preferences and expectations are also changing. Customers expect excellent to services delivered in the best manner possible. Servicescape is a key strategy that companies can use to enhance their customer service experience to stay more competitive in the market.
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