Table of Contents
2.Accessibility to Location of Service 2
2.1-Accessibility to Physical Service Site 2
2.2-Visibility to Physical Service Site 2
2.3- Accessibility to Desired Surroundings 3
2.4- Accessibility to Communicaiton and Contacts 3
3.Accessibility to Online Distribution Channel 3
3.1-Accessibility to Relevant Information and Support from Infomediaries 4
3.2-Accessibility to Relevant Information and Support in Strategic Alliance 4
“Accessibility is more than the efficient distribution of a service—it is a fundamental aspect of the service experience” Critically discuss the role of “accessibility” in defining the service experience.
In the service marketing literature, the importance of service quality has been widely considered as a key determinant to improve the customer satisfaction as well as the business performance (Hoffman, K.D., and Bateson, 2011). As a result, the topic of service quality has been widely researched and a variety of determinants in determining customer service experience have been identified. This report would specifically focus on the role of accessibility in defining the service experience. Service accessibility is an important factor in service marketing (Hoffman, K.D., and Bateson, 2011). It is suggested that the concept of accessibility not only refers to physical accessibility of the service but also relates to other means of communications and contact (Knowles, Diamantis, and EI-Mourhabi, 2004). This report will use my experience to visit Superdry as a mystery shopper to provide examples to explain how accessibility might determine the service experience of customers.
Accessibility to Location of Service
Accessibility to the location of service site is no longer solely refers to how easy it is for customers to access to the physical distribution channel where the service is produced and consumed. Rather, the accessibility to the location of service has referred to the availability of a wide range of factors to the customers which would influence their service experience (Palmer, 2011).
2.1 Accessibility to Physical Service Site
The accessibility to physical service site is a basic and fundamental factor in influencing customers’ service experience (Hoffman, K.D., and Bateson, 2011). More specifically, how easily the service site is approachable in terms of roads, congestion, and physical distance would affect the service use and act as a key determinant of customer patronage (Verma, 2009). The physical store of Superdry which I visited is located in the city centre with a good location and easy access to a variety of public transportation. This can increase the customer patronage to the store and consequently stimulate the purchase from customers.
2.2 Visibility to Physical Service Site
It is suggested that high degree of visibility of physical service site would encourage and attract more customers than those sites do not have high visibility (Bruhn and Georgi, 2006). The visibility of Superday’s outlet is very high with big trademark on the store which can be easily spotted from distance. Moreover, the colour of the store’s trademark is bright which also increase the visibility. This can help to draw attention of customers from distance.
2.3 Accessibility to Desired Surroundings
The surrounding of the service site is also an important determinant of customer experience of the service. In order to improve the service experience of customers, it is necessary to provide customers with a complete package which they are looking for, including the characteristics of vendors, hygiene standard, and other atmospherics (Rao, 2009). The store of Superdry has provided customers with the access to a number of favourable surroundings. For example, Superdry plays enjoyable music in the store and its layout design is very distinct. The accessibility to these factors would contribute to the improved service experience of customers. However, there is also a number of surrounding factors which would negatively affect the service experience of customers. More specifically, there are not enough resting areas in the store and the number of mirrors in the store is far from enough. Moreover, there is frequent false burglar alarming which is quire annoying to customers. There is no doubt that these negative surrounding factors would reduce the service quality of Superdry.
2.4 Accessibility to Communication and Contacts
The accessibility to communication for relevant service support is also a crucial part of service experience (Hoffman, K.D., and Bateson, 2011). If sufficient support has been provided to customers in terms of the service, then it is more likely for customers to make the purchase of the service and their buying experience would also been improved (Srinivassan, 2004). From the experience of visiting the store of Superdry, it is found that the accessibility to communication for support is very limited. More specifically, the staffs in the store do not wear uniforms which make it difficult for customers to identify the contact of support. Moreover, the in-store staffs are not hospitable and friendly when being approached. As a result, my overall shopping experience has been negatively affected due to lack of support in the store. It is believed that other customers would also experience similar issues as well due to the limited accessibility to communication.
Accessibility to Online Distribution Channel
With the increasing popularity of internet, service marketers have been enabled to reach out a wider audience through online interactions. That is to say, the interface between the service provider the customer can be intermediated by an online channel (Verma, 2009). Some companies have used online distribution channel exclusively to distribute products and services with low cost. Other companies have used the online distribution channel as an alternative channel to do business. This accessibility to online distribution channel would contribute to increased purchase of products or service and give rise to the unique online shopping experience. As a result, the design of the online distribution channel, the ease of use, the interface of the website, would all influence the online service experience of customers and determine their willingness to use the online channel again (Nargundkar, 2008). The online distribution channel of Superdry is well developed with unique design and friendly interface which would encourage customers to visit the website and thus increasing the accessibility to the online distribution channel.
3.1 Accessibility to Relevant Information and Support from Infomediaries
With the rapid development of e-business, there has been an increasing number of infomediaries emerged to provide information of products or service in the market. Price comparison sites could be a good example of such infomediaries. With increasing popularity of these sites, customers’ buying behaviour will be influenced by the information of product or service provided by the site (Hoffman, K.D., and Bateson, 2011). For example, many customers tend to use price comparison sites to identify the best deal in the market. If the information provided by these sites is outdated or not accurate then it is likely that customers might be given wrong information in terms of the product or service which would potentially damage their impression of the supplier. For example, if the price information of Superdry’s products provided by certain price comparison sites is very high while actually the information is not correct, then the customer might think he or she cannot afford to the products of Superdry thus they would avoid shopping with Superdry anymore. Accordingly, it is necessary for Superdry to cooperate closely with the most popular infomediaries in order to keep the information of its products updated. On the other hand, infomediaries can be a very good platform for suppliers to promote their products. For example, if Superdry give some incentives to certain price comparison sites then it is likely that its products would have more chances of being seen by customers thus increasing the accessibility to its products.
3.2 Accessibility to Relevant Information and Support in Strategic Alliance
With the increasing online competition, some companies have to form strategic alliance with potential competitors to promote their products (Burnett, 2007). As a result, it is likely that customers would have the opportunity to purchase certain products of a retailer with a better price from other competitors. That is to say, their shopping experience of the products is likely to be influenced by other competitors. For example, Superdry has formed strategic alliance with strong online retailers such as Amazon and Brandalley. Both two competitors have their own range of fashion products but they also sell products of Superdry. As a result, if certain Superdry branded products listed on Amazon is not provided with relevant information such as sizes guidance or availability, then customers’ shopping experience would be negatively influenced. Moreover, it is likely that customers would link this bad service experience with Superdry since they are attempting to buy Superdry’s products. In order to avoid this situation, it is necessary for Superdry to establish close cooperation with these strong partners and give them incentives to increase the accessibility of customers to accurate product information and relevant support, and consequently improving the service experience of customers.
In conclusion, this report has critically discussed the role of accessibility in improving the service quality. It is found that accessibility in service is a broad concept and the accessibility to a variety of determinants, such as location of service and online distribution channel, would significantly influence the service experience of customers. My experience of visiting the store of Superdry has been used to provide evidences to illustrate how accessibility might determine the service quality experienced by customers. Based on the analysis, it is evident that accessibility is a crucial aspect of the service experience which must be fully considered by business organisations to improve the customer satisfaction by recognising and increasing the accessibility of customers to the factors mentioned in the report.
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