A service organization’s place of service delivery and the physical evidence that forms a part of this, i.e. the servicescape, refers to the setting, surroundings and facilities, inclusive of furniture and furnishings, décor and lighting, that collectively define and characterize the place of service provision.
This servicescape also serves
- to set the tone for what is provided
- to provide powerful symbolic clues or signals
- to frame expectations
- to create a particular ambience, mood or atmosphere
- to enhance the service product strategy and positioning
- to facilitate or hinder service delivery
Importance of Servicescape
The importance of an organization’s servicescape, that is the amount of attention that must be given to planning, designing and managing it, will be influenced by the extent to which the customer is likely to be involved in the place of service provision or delivery.
But even in self-service locations, or in situations where there is little or no need for a customer to be involved in the service provider’s servicescape, attention may still need to be given to accessibility, facilities and the physical means of service provision.
Note: It is important to draw marketers’ attention to the fact that an organization’s servicescape needs to be designed from 3 perspectives:
(i) that of the customer,
(ii) that of employees, and
(ii) that of management.
Above figure in the text provides a useful framework for explaining and discussing the impact of the physical environment on customers and service personnel.
The Times of Service Availability
Service providers must also consider
- when, that is at what times, the service itself is to be made available to customers,
- when information about the service can be accessed outside of normal office hours,
- when, if relevant, bookings can be made.
Decisions about each of these considerations will be influenced by, inter alia:
- Customer needs and requirements
- Local legislation
- Economic imperatives
- The availability and attitudes of staff
- Technical resources and facilities
Essentially, the foundations of a service delivery strategy lie in providing answers to each of the following questions:
The answer to the first question serves to define not only the physical location of service delivery but the nature of the servicescape as well, from both customer and staff perspectives. This is to say that the place of service provision must be designed in such a way that satisfies customers and, at the same time, enables efficient service delivery.
The answer to the second question defines when the service will be made available and when customers are able to access it or information about it. Answers to the third question serve to define the process, means and nature of service delivery and, thereby, the marketable image and personality of a service provider.