Customer service in Europe

Date of publication: September 1, 1989


The principal purpose of writing this paper is to draw together the experience of executives conducting customer care research in four European countries - The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Spain. All four authors have a history of co-operation, both on domestic and internationally co-ordinated customer research projects. The authors start by examining the shift in emphasis that has taken place recently in the marketing of services - away from acquisition and towards retention marketing. This has had a profound impact on the way in which market research projects are designed and used. The paper proceeds to define service and differentiates between two main types of service attribute - tangibles and intangibles. Traditional approaches are reviewed, along with recent advances that go some way towards improving the the quality and usefulness of service research data. The advantages over traditional approaches of two major new developments - SMART and Integrated Problem Solving are discussed in some detail prior to put- ting forward a blueprint for future pan-European service research. The principal ways in which this paper differs from previous papers on this topic can be summarised as follows: - The paper sets ’service improvement’ studies in the context of ’corporate image’ and ’customer satisfaction’ studies. It examines in some detail both the mechanics of the SMART approach (particularly design issues and the elicitation procedure) and the advantages of this approach over more conventional research techniques. -It highlights ways in which SMART has developed (particularly with regards micro-modelling and tracking). -Service research is examined from a pan-European rather than a domestic perspective.

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