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Interactions among the company, employees and customers influence brand experience delivery. A service triangle depicts the interdependent relations involved in formulating, enabling, and keeping brand promises, which impact the service experience. Rise on Apache’s (Rise) brand proposition conveys its unique benefits to customers as superior student living, excellent location, and access to resident services. However, its history of service failure related to leasing, maintenance, and customer service points to a breakdown in customer experience management. The firm is unable to keep its brand promises to inspire client confidence and loyalty.
From the service triangle model, the first step is making a promise (company to customers). Ideally, the front-line staff interacting with clients should develop the value proposition, as they understand market needs and interests. It requires adequate promotional strategies to capture customer attention to a firm’s offerings. The rise has put forward three brand promises: superior student living, extraordinary location, and resident services. However, the service experience is only realized when promises made are enabled (company to employees) through internal processes that support the workforce to deliver it. Constant service failures at Rising suggest that the firm has not empowered its employees to drive its service proposition in its target market. Staff empowerment through training on lease administration, maintenance, and customer service would enable them to deliver the company’s promises to clients.
The last relation in the service triangle is delivering the promise (employee to customers). It entails service encounters between front-line staff and clients at the point of sale. Empowered employees will be able to deliver the brand experience promised by the company. Service desirability is hinged on the delivery of the promises made to customers. For Rise, chronic service failures and negative customer reviews online show that customer service and employee-customer interactions are poor. Its service workforce is not empowered to deliver the promised value proposition. Additionally, the company could be focusing more on its financial priorities than on customer satisfaction.
Employee-Brand Position Alignment
Service encounters between front-office staff and customers constitute a critical component of the service triangle. An alignment of service experience with company promises relies on how well employees are empowered to deliver value to clients. It entails staff training, motivation, internal marketing, and education on customer service, among others. For Rise, positive reviews and repeat-purchase intentions would indicate staff-brand alignment. However, frequent service failures and poor customer experience management imply that its employees are not aligned with the brand positioning. A strategic alignment would have led to brand loyalty and favorable user perceptions of Rising’s apartments.
If the front-line staff’s demeanor were aligned with Rising’s brand positioning, clients would still perceive its services favorably. Excellent customer experience management when addressing the service failures could affirm that the brand promise is still intact. Employee-brand misalignment at Rising explains the negative customers’ service perception and reviews it is receiving. Further, the frequent change of management may have made it difficult to align employees with the brand’s positioning. Service failures cannot be avoided completely. However, the way they are resolved during employee-client interactions is critical in retaining a disgruntled customer. Given the negative publicity and reviews, it is clear that Rise’s workforce is misaligned with its brand positioning of providing a satisfying living experience, convenient location, and resident services.
Service Quality Gaps
Service failure may arise from gaps in customer expectations, knowledge, design, performance, or communication. It affects client satisfaction and future purchase intentions. A customer gap describes the disparity between what the client expects and what he/she perceives when interacting with the service. For Rise, it is clear that clients’ expectations did not match their perceptions. They expected well-designed, fitted, and furnished flats with a gorgeous interior, convenient location, and resident services, as contained in their brand positioning statements. Evidently, Rise did not live up to these promises.
The listening/knowledge gap stems from a lack of awareness or a misinterpretation of customer expectations from a service. Rise knows what customers expect from apartment tours. It also has captured client needs on its website promises. However, the company’s service delivery does not meet customer expectations based on available online information and apartment tour experience.
The design gap results from poor service designs and standards. The rise has failed to implement a system that delivers excellent customer service to fulfill its brand promises. For example, a performance reward program for leasing a contract is lacking. The employee taking a customer on an apartment tour may not be the one who facilitates the signing of the lease. Therefore, it becomes difficult to determine who should get a reward or bonus. Additionally, Rise lacks a service recovery strategy after failures. Client complaints posted online or during visits are ignored. The rise may lose its market share to poor customer service.
The service performance/delivery gap results from poor employee performance. Although Rise has specified the quality of service it offers, its staff is not able to deliver to the promised standards. The failure to train and motivate employees means that they are poorly prepared to manage customer needs. Additionally, a lack of commitment to the company’s goals by the top managers as long as they are receiving their salaries results in poor policies that affect service delivery.
The communication gap arises when performance does not match the brand promises. For Rise, customers are disappointed due to poor communication from front-office employees, especially after signing a contract. The customer service desk has failed to handle complaints posted on social media or reported via telephone. Very late responses to repair orders also indicate poor employee-customer communications. Although service failure may be attributed to any of the above reasons, for Rising, it happens in the design, delivery, and communication gaps.
Possible Service Recovery Strategies
Service failure is inevitable in the real estate sector. However, how a company responds to it is critical in customer retention. A well-designed service recovery strategy is required to avoid losing customers, which will hurt the business (Miller par. 1). A supportive organizational culture that treasures user feedback is essential in recovery efforts. Ignoring consumers after service failures may lead to adverse reviews and public shaming on social media, as is currently the case with Rising.
Another aspect of successful service recovery is making it easier for customers to register their complaints. According to Hume, encouraging and tracking complaints through technology would help prevent frustrated customers from switching to competitor services (par. 9). User feedback is required to initiate service recovery to retain customers.
Given Rise’s history of service failures and online bashing, the best recovery strategy would be compensating disgruntled customers. The compensation could depend on the severity of the problem. For more severe service failures, Rise can offer $50 off rent (discount) to the customer. A second compensatory action would be to give a refund for maybe Wi-Fi downtime or the duration the individual experienced service failure. For less severe situations, Rise can offer gift cards or coupons to the affected customer as a sign of goodwill. Additionally, it can give flowers to express its acceptance and responsibility for the minor service failure.
The rise will also need to reach out to its customers and address the complaints posted on social media to win them back. A gesture of fairness and empathy in the complaint-handling process requires quick responses and adequate explanations to appease users (Shrestha par. 13). The rise should first acknowledge each failure reported online, apologize to the affected customer, and take immediate steps to resolve the issue. To reach out to disgruntled users, the company should take responsibility for the fault and show sensitivity to the consumer’s needs as opposed to blaming him/her for the failure (Miller par. 12). It should assure the customers that all their complaints would be addressed with speed to deliver timely justice to them.
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Another recovery strategy Rise could use to regain consumer trust is including a conditional service guarantee in the lease contract. The aim is to promote a specific aspect of its apartments, such as location, interior design, fittings, or high-speed internet. Another strategy would be communicating to customers about the inclusion of their input in a new and improved service delivery system. This approach will help build a relationship with users and make them more forgiving (Huge par. 14). Documenting anticipated failures in a service blueprint will also assist in the proper management of problems when they occur.
Huee, Lee. “Service Marketing – Service Recovery and Strategies.” Essential Guide to: Marketing, Marketer, Market!. 2011, Web.
Miller, Ray. “Three Proven Pro-active Service Recovery Strategies.” Web.
Shrestha, Sambridhi. “Service Failure and Service Recovery.” Whittaker Associates. 2017, Web.