Chapter 6 – Listening to Customers Through Research
Using Research to Understand Customer Expectations
Research Objectives for Services
First step in designing services research: Defining the problem and research objectives (Most critical).
Research objectives in services are similar to the objectives in physical products. They do, although,
incorporate additional elements.
Services must continually track service performance as it is subject to variability and
heterogeneity. Documenting the process by which service is performed is also necessary.
Potential variations always exist and thus documenting must continue.
The need to consider and monitor the gap between expectation and perceptions. This gap is
dynamic as they both fluctuate.
Criteria for an Effective Services Research Program
Services Research Program – Composite of all research needed to address the objectives and execute an
overall measurement strategy. These criteria include:
Includes qualitative and quantitative research – Qualitative research, exploratory and
preliminary, are conducted to clarify problem definition, to prepare for more formal research, or
to gain insight when more formal research is not necessary. Insights gained through one-on-one
conversations, focus groups, critical incidents research and direct observation show the marketer
the right questions to ask of customers. This is usually the first type of research done.
Quantitative research is designed to describe the nature, attitudes or behaviors of customers to
test hypotheses that a service marketer wants to examine. These are key for quantifying
customer satisfaction and providing benchmarks.
Includes both perceptions and expectations of customers – Expectations serve as reference
points for customers. Customers company what they perceive to their expectations.
Measurement programs need to measure both perceptions and expectations.
Balances the cost of the research and the value of the information
Includes statistical validity when necessary – Some information need to be tracked carefully with
a lot of background information known (e.g. Information on employees so one knows who to
promote) while other information doesn’t (e.g. What customers want, locations of customers not