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Services are intangible items such as airline trips, financial advice, or telephone calls that an organization provides to consumers. To obtain these services, consumers exchange for money or something else of value, such as their own time.

There are four unique elements to services: intangibility, inconsistency, insepa­rability, and inventory. These four elements are referred to as the four I's of services.

Intangibility. Services are intangible; that is, they can't be held, touched, or seen before the purchase decision. In contrast, before purchasing a traditional product, a consumer can touch a box of laundry detergent, kick the tire of an automobile, or sample a new breakfast cereal. A major marketing need for cervices is to make them tangible or show the benefits of using the service.

Inconsistency. Marketing services are challenging because the quality of a service is often inconsistent. Since services depend on the people who provide them, their quality varies with each person's capabilities and day-to-day job performance. Inconsistency is much more of a problem in services than it is with tangible goods. Tangible products can be good or bad in terms of quality, but with modern production lines the quality will at least be consistent.

Inseparability. A third difference between services and goods, related to problems of consistency, is inseparability. In most cases the consumer cannot (and does not) separate the service from the deliverer of the service or the setting in which the service occurs. For example, to receive an education, a person may attend a university. The quality of the education may be high, but if the student finds counseling services poor, or sees little opportunity for extracurricular activity, he or she may not be satisfied with the educational experience.

Inventory. This element requires the provision of service along with any needed equipment. If a physician is paid to see patients but no one schedules an appointment, the fixed cost of the idle physician's salary is a high inventory carrying cost. In some service businesses, however, the provider of the service is on commission or is a part-time employee. Inventory carrying costs can be significantly lower or nonexistent because the idle production capacity can be cut back by reducing hours or having no salary to pay because of the commission compensation system.


1.Speak on each of the unique elements of services. Try to find some examples from your consumer experience.



T E X T 9


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