Service Management

Business

Quiz 9 :

The Service Encounter

Quiz 9 :

The Service Encounter

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How has Enterprise Rent-A-Car (ERAC) defined its service differently than that of the typical national car rental company?
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Enterprise Rent-A-Car (ERAC) offers a complete "service package" to its target market, the local rental or "hometown" segment, which has an annual growth of 10 to 15 percent. This market includes two groups: the replacement and the discretionary segments.  ERAC differentiates itself from the typical national car rental company by applying a personalized service philosophy in its business. This principle is reflected in its service package:
Supporting facility
•ERAC has 4000 offices and customers perceive them as being located nearby as opposed to its competitors who are located at or near airports.
•Some offices are strategically located next to or in car dealers or repair facilities, offering a replacement car.
Facilitating goods
•ERAC offers a wide variety of cars, with a selection of more than 60 vehicles for all tastes and needs (e.g. a car to impress clients or a reliable car for a long trip).
Information
•Because ERAC picks up its customers from office or home, this information is useful in planning future site locations. 
•With ARMS customers are able to contact any North American office via an exclusive 1-800 number.
Explicit services
•Convenience in free pick-ups and drop-offs for the customer
•Rates lower than competition
•Availability to customers through an 800 number that allows them to contact any of ERAC connected offices, and an automated system (ARMS) that make insurance companies' (who are major clients) transactions more efficient.
•Comprehensiveness in its services through an end-to-end client's fleet management arrangement offered by an Account Services representative. This service includes activities such as acquisition, registration, financing, fueling, maintenance management, and disposal.
Implicit services
•Image and service attitude based on ERAC's culture, which focuses on hiring people with abilities in dealing with customers and internal competition.
•Convenience by partnering with repair facilities and auto dealers for replacement cars.

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Design a personnel selection procedure for Amy's Ice Cream using abstract questioning, situational vignette, and/or role-playing.
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Case introduction:
The ice cream store A focuses on the interest levels of employee in the job and creating happy customers. It hired artists and theatre majors to develop a creative and vibrant atmosphere. The customers enjoyed their interactions, fun and service.
The store uses a white paper bag as an application form. The individuals who fill the form in creative manner are considered as the ones who enjoy their work and interviewed. The training includes both the process to deliver the standard product and the expected behaviour with customers.
In the store, the employees act as a team and do every work irrespective of their position. The owner of the store provides the employees more freedom at work to differentiate their services.
Abstract questioning : The questions are open ended to understand the ability of the employee to use the information and experience from past in new job. It is useful to understand the adaptability of the employee. However, it cannot be ensured that the information and experience from past service situations will be applied to the current service job.
•What is the main thing that the employee notices in the customer
•What is the interesting aspect in the job
•How would the employee describe the flavours to the customers
•Are there any experiences which influence the employee at a large extent
Situational vignette: In this interview, the potential employees need to answer the questions based on a situation. This is useful to understand to what extent the employees can make decisions themselves.
The following situation can be used in this interview:
A customer visited the restaurant with his/her family. They ordered for ice-cream and after few minutes it was served. Their children started noise, messing the table, running around the store. One of them even tried to throw the ice cream on the other.
It is clear that the other customers were irritated by the noise of the children. How the employee would reacts in the situation
Role playing: The employees need to play a role in simulated situation as if it is a real service environment. This is used to get more information about the employee and their working style under different situations. This interview ensures more accurate responses as the employee acts in the situation rather than describing their action.
The employee may be asked to perform a role in the situation where one of the employee acts as a customer who consumed two flavours but would pay for one as he did not like the taste of the other. The potential employee needs to react to this situation.
As role play gives more accurate responses, it should be the final phase of the interview. As the store focuses on services and customer happiness, the employees should be more creative and have empathy to understand the customer.

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Comment on the different dynamics of one-on-one service and group service in regard to perceived control of the service encounter.
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When customers are served in groups such as in a recreational setting (e.g., Club Med) or on an airline flight, certain norms of behavior must be strictly enforced.  Because the potential for a single customer to ruin the service experience of the group is high, the contact personnel must exercise authority and be seen in that role (e.g., by wearing a uniform).  Peer pressure of other customers will help in the control of deviant behavior.  In one-on-one service, the opportunity for service customization is much easier to accomplish without the knowledge of other customers (e.g., upgrading a hotel room).  However, abuse can also result from either party to the encounter.  For example, the contact person could intimidate a customer into buying unnecessary services (e.g., insurance for a rental car) or the customer could demand disallowed services (e.g., extra carry-on luggage).

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Use the service profit chain to explain the success of ERAC.
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How does use of a "service script" relate to service quality ?
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What are the personality attributes of the employees who are sought by Amy's Ice Cream ?
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If the roles played by customers are determined by cultural norms, how can services be exported ?
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What features of its business concept allow ERAC to compete effectively with the existing national rental car companies?
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Describe the service organization culture at Amy's Ice Cream.
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How does the historical image of service as servitude affect today's customer expectations and service employee behavior ?
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What are the organizational and marketing implications of considering a customer as a "partial employee ?"
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