The Chicago Cubs  have not won a World Series since 1908, yet remain one of the most popular teams in Major League Baseball. When customers face a failure, it is not often that a response like “Wait till Next Year!” is a refrain and those same customers keep coming back. Watch this video and answer the following questions.

1-What is different about the expectations of Chicago Cubs customers and other businesses?


2-What would happen if the Cubs won a World Series? Would the club face customer retention issues since their expectations had been realized?


Ski Dubai

Imagine what activities you would enjoy on vacation in Dubai. Perhaps you would sunbathe on one of the world renowned beaches, take a safari, or tour the impressive surrounding sand dunes. Of anything you might do, going skiing (not the water kind) would probably be the furthest thing from your mind. But Ski Dubai has provided that very service in the desert country: an artificially made, indoor ski resort.

At Ski Dubai, visitors can ski, snowboard, and even toboggan all year round on the indoor slopes furnished with real snow. The resort boasts 22,500 square meters of snow-covered terrain, including five runs of varying difficulty and a “Freestyle Zone” created solely for snowboarders to practice their stunts. The resort also contains several themed restaurants, an exclusive retail shop, expert Snow School instructors, and a quad-chairlift.

Visitors purchase Slope Passes upon arrival, which include a jacket, trousers, skis and ski boots or a snowboard and snowboard boots, ski poles, disposable socks, and helmets for children. Prices for ski time vary from $175 to $240, with discounts for children, groups, or corporate events. Additional charges include group or private lessons, consults with ski experts, meals in the themed restaurants, or items from the retail shop. Or as an alternative, guests can visit with snow penguins for approximately $40.

As the only resort with such amenities in the area, Ski Dubai provides an exclusive experience for its visitors. It is the prime example of a unique service through the delivery of an unforgettable experience. Nowhere else in the Middle East can consumers ski down a black level slope, make snow angels, or learn to snowboard. Ski Dubai was the first resort to offer these services, and it remains the only location where consumers can partake in these wintery activities in the Middle East.


Ski Dubai, and accessed 19, February, 2013

You might not have expected to find skiing in Dubai, but consider the indoor water parks used in mid-winter throughout the upper Midwest and Canada. Which other non-traditional activities might create a unique un-expected customer experience?


Activity 3-1B: What does a Gecko have to do with Insurance?


What does a Gecko have to do with Insurance?

In many instances, in the absence of a physical product, consumers look to the physical evidence or tangible clues that surround the service to assist them in making service evaluations. Tangible clues may include such evidence as the quality of furniture in a lawyer’s office, the appearance of the personnel in a bank, and the architectural design for a renovated College of Business.

As evidence, tangible clues are also often used in services advertising. Returning to the insurance example, the major challenge of an insurance firm is to communicate to consumers in a 30-second television commercial  what the specific firm has to offer and how the firm is different from every other insurance firm under the customer’s consideration. One strategy embraced by many service firms is to use some form of tangible clues in advertising. Prudential uses “The Rock” and promises “rock-solid protection.” Allstate shows us “helping hands” or the character named “Mayhem” and promises that “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” The list goes on and on—Merrill Lynch has “the bull,” Nationwide promotes “blanket-wide protection,” Kemper has “the cavalry,” Travelers Insurance utilizes “the umbrella,” Geico has the “gecko,” Aflac has the “duck,” and Transamerica promotes the shape of its office building as “the power of the pyramid.” The lesson that all these companies have learned over time is that the services they sell are abstract to the consumer and therefore difficult for the average consumer to understand. The answer to this challenge was to provide tangible clues that were easily understood by the public and directly related to the bundle of benefits the services provided. For example, State Farm’s credo of “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” reinforces the firm’s practice of assigning a specific agent to each of its clients which in turn effectively differentiates State Farm from its online competitors.

Source: accessed 4 February 2015.

Do you think that the strategies that these companies have taken to create brand awareness and tangible clues has been effective? Comment on what has surprised you about you in this exercise.



Assignment: Activity 3-2: A Familiar Symbol

A Familiar Symbol

A well-known and respected corporate image lowers the level of perceived risk experienced by potential customers and, in some instances, lowers the reliance on personal sources of information when making service provider choices. As an example, the consumer who is moving to a new town in California may bypass personal referrals and automatically seek out the nearestChase Bank  for their banking needs based on the firm’s organizational image. In this case, Chase Bank, through image development and subsequent brand awareness, as demonstrated in this advertisement,  has developed a differential advantage over small, local firms of which the consumer may be unaware.

Source: accessed 5 February, 2015.

What was the most recent example of when you recognized a corporate image in a new location or setting?



Assignment: Activity 3-3: Sustainability at Chipotle

Sustainability at Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill , the popular fast-casual restaurant founded in Denver, Colorado in 1993, made its name by emphasizing “Food with Integrity” and serving customers “the very best ingredients, all raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers.” Only fresh, natural, hormone-free and often organic ingredients go into menu items. Their open kitchens do not contain freezers, microwave ovens, or can openers.

Now a publicly traded company with annual sales greater than $2.7 billion, Chipotle is investing in green marketing strategies to grow the brand. In its effort to advocate for the ethical treatment of animals, sustainable farming, and buying local produce, the company hopes to build loyalty for its admirable practices, in addition to the restaurant’s tasty, giant-sized burritos.

Recent marketing efforts include a documentary short film aired on television during the 2012 Grammy Awards, detailing a factory farm that decided to change its ways and operate with sustainable practices. The film drew praise for breaking new ground in the fast food industry where high fat/low nutritional value has been the dominant and increasingly negative theme for decades.

However, the green marketing push also invigorated critics. For years Chipotle has been under fire for refusing to support better working wages for tomato pickers, as well as other workers’ rights. Furthermore, while Chipotle’s individual ingredients are fresh and healthy, a single burrito packs a whopping 1,300 calories, which is like eating two Big Macs from McDonald’s. Fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, and sodium content for the same burrito exceeds recommended values for an entire day. Clearly, Chipotle has come a long way—and has a long way to go.

Source: accessed 5, February 2015.

Would a video like this make you more or less likely to dine at Chipotle?




Assignment: Activity 3-4: Doctor, Doctor

Doctor, Doctor!

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld explains the reason behind the traditional doctor’s office wait in a funny, but relatable video.

Source: accessed 5 February 2015.

1-Comment on another service business where customers do not adhere to a schedule that allows for a smooth delivery schedule.


2-Which is more challenging? Managing a business such as a floral delivery service (think Valentine’s Day), a night club (busy on Friday and Saturday nights), or a furnace/air conditioning repair business? What could be done to provide the best customer service experience?



Assignment: Activity 3-5: Customer Service

Customer Service

Some consumer groups believe that standardization sends the message that the firm does not really care about individual consumer needs and is attempting to distance itself from the customer. Perceived distancing is particularly an issue as organizations are increasingly replacing human labor with machines, such as automated phone services that are programmed to respond with, “your call is very important to us”—does anyone really believe this anymore? Ellen DeGeneres certainly has some issues in this regard based on this exchange on her show. In many instances, customers become increasingly frustrated when forced to select from a menu of phone prompts and to interact with voice recognition software that is far from perfect.

Source: accessed 5 February, 2015.

Comment on an experience you underwent with a call center. Was it a good or poor experience? What would you do if you were managing this function to enhance the service experience?



Assignment: Activity 4-1B: Men’s Brains v. Women’s Brains

Men’s Brains vs. Women’s Brains

Throughout the three primary stages of the consumer decision making—prepurchase, consumption and postpurchase evaluation—the consumer must be using a process or model to make his or her decision. Although a variety of models have been developed and are discussed in this chapter, it is important to point out that no model is wholly accurate. The consumer’s mind is still closed to us; it is a “black box” that remains sealed. We can observe inputs to the box and the decisions made as a result, but we can never know how the act of processing inputs (information) truly happens. For an entertaining look on how males and females process information differently, see the video titled “Men’s Brains vs. Women’s Brains”

Source: accessed 9 February, 2015.

Do you think men and women process information differently and that it affects their decisions?



Assignment: Activity 4-2: Watch Out

Watch out! Physical Risk

Marketers such as insurance companies and health care providers often use physical risk in their advertising. The physical risk of a purchase can emerge if something does go wrong, inflicting injury on the purchaser.

Source: accessed 9 February, 2015.

Ads such as this one or the Allstate campaign “Mayhem,” which depicts horrible accidents that can occur, are meant to produce a response from consumers. Are these approaches more effective with younger or older consumers?



Assignment: Activity 4-3: David and the Dentist

David and the Dentist: Co-Producer Risk

The involvement of the consumer in the “production process of services” is another source of increased perceived risk. Co-producer risk is directly related to the concept of inseparability. Dental services provide a great example of the consumer’s involvement in the production process. If mistakes are made, the patient directly suffers as a consequence. Even if mistakes are not made, the patient still deals directly with the effects of the production process. Receiving over 110 million views, the YouTube Video titled “David After Dentist” provides a classic example of co-producer risk.

Source: accessed 9 February, 2015.

How do you react to co-producer involvement?



Assignment: Activity 4-4: Motel Six

Motel Six

Motel Six, by downplaying its service offering in its cleverly contrived advertising, actually increases consumer satisfaction by lowering customer expectations prior to purchase. The firm’s advertising effectively informs consumers of both what to expect and what not to expect: “A good clean room for $49.99…a little more in some places…a little less in some others…and remember…we’ll leave the light on or you.” Many customers simply do not use services such as swimming pools, health clubs, and full-service restaurants that are associated with the higher-priced hotels. Economy-minded hotels, such as Motel Six, have carved out a niche in the market by providing the basics. The result is that customers know exactly what they will get ahead of time and are happy not only with the quality of the service received, but also with the cost savings. As evidence, Motel 6 just celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012 and produced a memorable advertisement .

Source: accessed 9 February, 2015.

Low cost providers like Motel Six often provide free Wi Fi access to guests while luxury chains charge for Wi Fi access. Discuss why higher priced hotels can charge for what is available for free at less expensive chains.



Assignment: Activity 7-1: Mistargeted Communications

Mistargeted Communications

Segmentation is one of the basic concepts of marketing. In essence, it suggests that a firm’s marketing efficiency can be improved by targeting marketing activities at specific groups of consumers who behave differently in some way toward the firm. Although segmentation is applied in both goods and service companies, the consequences of reaching an inappropriate segment with a part of the communication mix are far less serious for goods companies than for services. If the wrong group of consumers buys a particular brand of detergent, for example, it does not really affect the company making the detergent; sales are still being generated. Another example is that a product may have been developed for the youth market, but through some quirk of the advertising execution, the product has attracted some senior citizens.For example, take the Pepsi advertisement that portrayed the youthful effects of Pepsi being delivered to a senior citizens’ home by error instead of to the college fraternity house. Let’s say that the ad is interpreted by senior citizens that Pepsi will make them feel young again. Clearly, this was not the original intent of Pepsi, which targets the younger generation. Members of the group that misinterpreted the message visit the supermarket, buy the product, and use it in their homes. The negative consequences associated with the elder segment’s use of the product are few.

Suppose, however, that some of the wrong segment decides to buy the services of a restaurant. An upscale concept has been developed, but to launch the restaurant, management decides to have a price promotion, and the advertising agency develops inappropriate advertising. Additionally, through poor management, the advertising is unfocused and produces feature articles in the wrong magazines. The result is that the restaurant gets two types of customers: upscale, middle-aged couples and price-conscious groups of students. The former were the original target, and the latter were attracted by mistargeted marketing tactics. Unfortunately for the restaurant and for many other services, “other customers” are part of the product. The result is that neither segment enjoys the experience because of the presence of the other, and neither type of customer returns. Hence, the consequences of mistargeted communications for service firms, because of the shared consumption experience, are clearly more significant than the consequences experienced by traditional goods-producing firms.


Pepsi Video: accessed 4 March, 2015.

Marketers will target market segments by using different methods which are:

  • Psychographic: Grouping your customers into cultural clusters, social status, lifestyle and personality type.
  • Decision Makers: Grouping your customers based on who decides to purchase your product within the company structure.
  • Behavioral: Grouping customers by product usage. For example; light, medium or heavy users. This stage also factors in brand loyalty and the type of user.
  • Geographic: Grouping customers by a specific area, such regions of the country or state and urban or rural.
  • Distribution: Grouping customers based on where they go to purchase your product, such as online, store or through a catalog.
  • Demographic: Grouping customers by age, income level, gender, family size, religion, race, nationality, language, etc.

Which segmentation methods present the greatest and least threat for mistargeted communications? What steps would you take to avoid targeting the wrong target market?




Assignment: Activity 7-2: Tangibilize the Intangible

Tangibilize the Intangible

Given the intangible nature of services, service products are often abstract in the minds of potential customers. Consequently, one of the principal guidelines for advertising a service is to make it more concrete. Insurance companies face this challenge on a daily basis—how to tangibilize the intangible? One possible solution for many insurance companies has been to utilize tangible symbols to represent their companies. Prudential  has “The Rock,” Merrill Lynch has “The Bull,” and GEICO has “The Gecko.” However, no insurance icon has ever been as successful as the Aflac  Duck!

The Aflac Duck campaign was created by Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO/chief creative officer and Robin Koval, chief marketing officer/general manager of The Kaplan Thaler Group (KTG) Ltd. Their charge was to increase the public’s awareness of the Aflac brand. Aflac’s chair and CEO told Thaler, “I don’t care what you do, as long as you get people to know the name of this company.” The impetus behind the duck campaign  was based on KTG’s “big bang” theory—“if we allow a little illogic into our thoughts…we can break through the prison of current convention.” When pronounced audibly, Aflac sounds like a duck, so why not create a slightly annoying waterfowl (who hates to be ignored) to represent a company that is trying to make a splash in the marketplace?

Sources:, accessed 26 April 2005; Jerry Fisher, “Duck Season,” Entrepreneur, 33, 1, (January 2005), p. 67; Fran MatsoLysiak, “Aflac’s Quacking Duck Selected One of America’s Favorite Ad Icons,” BEST’S REVIEW, 105, 6, (October 2004), p. 119;

Aflac Youtube Opportunity: accessed 5 March, 2015.

The suggested communication strategy to use when the product is intangible dominant is to surround the product with tangible evidence. Given this, why is the Aflac duck campaign a good idea?



Assignment: Activity 8-2: Roadhouse Rules

Roadhouse Rules

Consumers will have one set of expectations for a restaurant with dimly lit dining rooms, soft music, and linen tablecloths and napkins, and a different set of expectations for a restaurant with cement floors, picnic tables, and peanut shells strewn about the floor. After viewing this video about Texas Roadhouse, answer the following question.


Youtube: accessed 6 March, 2015.

Why would a business want to encourage customers to put peanut shells on the ground? Does this enhance of detract from the physical evidence that they want to present to customers?



Assignment: Activity 9-1: McNuggets for Breakfast

McNugget’s for Breakfast?

McDonald’s drive thru customer Melodi Dushane took measures to the extreme when informed that McDonald’s does not sell Chicken McNuggets in the morning. She physically attacked the server and tried to climb into the drive through booth by smashing the window.

Such incidents will stress even the most experienced service workers. Comment on what training could be provided to customer facing staff to deal with this type of customer misbehavior?



Assignment: Activity 9-2: Fun in the Air

Fun in the Air

The trend of flight attendants choosing to sing the safety announcement may represent another strategy to cope with the monotony and conflict within the role. Southwest encourages their flight attendants to incorporate personality into their interactions with customers. As one attendant tells passengers “I have done 5 flights today and another regular announcement will put me to sleep.” He then raps the announcments accompanied by the passengers as seen here.

Organizations must monitor these practices however, in extreme cases the role conflict and ambiguity can lead to acts of service sabotage. These acts serve to regain control, or a sense of it, for the service provider. In some cases such sabotage is kept private – smaller portions or bad beer for difficult customers. In other cases it manifests in more public ways with whole teams of service providers playing games and tricks on each other, through the customers or on customers directly. This represents a breakdown in service but it is much more common than we think. A survey of 182 first line service personnel found that 90% accepted behavior with malicious intent to reduce or spoil service. In this example,  whether the pilots describing the fire arms they had with them in the cockpit were intending to deter terrorists or were engaged in service sabotage remains to be decided.

Compare the service aspects of both interactions with customers and comment on how you would manage the creative delivery of information to these flight customers.



Assignment: Activity 10-2: Depop


The Depop company, founded in November 2011 with the goal of building a marketplace so that friends could sell things directly from their phones and discover what their friends were selling. The App that works from a smartphone, without the need for a computer. Users can take a picture of what they want to sell and let their friends view it in real time on Facebook or Twitter. Users can “Like” and “Comment” on items, search for favorite items, chat instantly with the seller to get more information or to make an offer.

1-Who are the service providers in the Depop model? How much of the work is being done by the consumer?


2-How has partnering with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as Paypal for making purchases been integral to Depop’s success? What are the benefits of these partnerships on both buyers and sellers?



Assignment: Activity 11-1: Customer Retention

Customer Retention – The Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs  have not won a World Series since 1908, yet remain one of the most popular teams in Major League Baseball. When customers face a failure, it is not often that a response like “Wait till Next Year!” is a refrain and those same customers keep coming back. Watch this video and answer the following questions.

1-What is different about the expectations of Chicago Cubs customers and other businesses?



2-What would happen if the Cubs won a World Series? Would the club face customer retention issues since their expectations had been realized?



Assignment: Activity 13-3: United Breaks Guitar

Dave Carroll, a singer song writer from Canada, had a little trouble with United Airlines. A baggage handler mishandled one of Dave’s guitars and events escalated from there. Please watch this video #1 and answer questions 1-6.

  • Based on the information provided in video #1, did Dave Carroll register an instrumental or non-instrumental complaint? Please explain.
  • Is Dave Carroll’s complaint ostensive or reflexive? Please discuss.
  • Based on the information provided in the text, discuss the primary reasons Dave Carroll is complaining.
  • Discuss Dave’s complaint in terms of voice, exit, and retaliation outcomes.
  • Based on the text section pertaining to “Service Failure Identification,” how would you categorize this particular service failure among the four proposed failure groups?

Please watch videos #2#3, and #4 and answer the questions that follow.

  • Discuss this failure scenario in terms of the failure attributions of: locus, stability, and controllability.
  • The text provides five broad recovery strategies. What advice would you provide United to recover from this particular service failure?
  • Discuss United’s recovery efforts in terms of distributive, procedural, and interactional justice.




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