Process as part of the marketing mix
Process is another element of the services marketing mix or 7Ps.There is a number of perceptions of the concept of process within the business and marketing literature. Some see processes as a means to achieve an outcome, for example - to achieve a 30% market share, a company implements a marketing planning process.
Another view is that marketing has a number of processes that integrate together to create an overall marketing process, for example - telemarketing and Internet marketing can be integrated. A further view is that marketing processes are used to control the marketing mix, i.e. processes that measure the achievement of marketing objectives. All views are understandable, but not particularly customer focused.
For the purposes of the marketing mix, process is an element of service that sees the customer experiencing an organization’s offering. It's best viewed as something that your customer participates in at different points in time. Here are some examples to help you build a picture of a marketing process, from the customer's point of view.
Going on a cruise - from the moment that you arrive at the dockside, you are greeted; your baggage is taken to your room. You have two weeks of services from restaurants and evening entertainment, to casinos and shopping. Finally, you arrive at your destination, and your baggage is delivered to you. This is a highly focused marketing process, and is an example of the importance of process in enabling delivery of the customer proposition. Another way of looking at this example is that there is end to end service support, which has enabled transactions between the company and its customers. There are other ways in which the process supports the customer experience as we will see from the next section.
At each stage of the process, marketers:
- Deliver value through all elements of the marketing mix. Process, physical evidence and people enhance services.
- Feedback can be taken and the mix can be altered.
- Customers are retained, and other services or products are extended and marked to them.
- The process itself can be tailored to the needs of different individuals, experiencing a similar service at the same time.
Processes essentially have inputs, throughputs and outputs (or outcomes). Marketing adds value to each of the stages. Take a look at the lesson on value chain analysis to consider a series of processes at work.
There are a number of types of processes. Technological processes include the process of manufacturing goods and adapting them for the needs of clients. For example Rolls-Royce motor cars will build a Phantom which is adapted to the requirements of each individual client. There are also electronic processes which include things like Electronic Point-Of-Sale (EPOS), barcodes on products which are scanned on phones or by checkout people and other means such as loyalty cards.
Processes include direct activities and indirect activities. Direct activities add value at the customer interface as the consumer experiences the service. Many processes are supported by indirect activities, often known as back office activities, which support the service before, during and after it has been consumed.