Service Design in Customer Acquisition in the Context of Public Services: Engaging Home Care Customers in Service- Centre Activities

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1 Copenhagen Business School 2015 Ms.Soc. Service Management Service Design in Customer Acquisition in the Context of Public Services: Engaging Home Care Customers in Service- Centre Activities Master s Thesis Anna Porko Supervisor: Tore Kristensen 166,255 Characters 79 pages

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3 Engaging Home Care Customers in Service-Centre Activities 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION RESEARCH QUESTIONS CASE DEFINITIONS DEVELOPMENT PROJECT IN LAAJASALO DELIMITATIONS CONVENTIONS REGARDING INTERVIEW MATERIALS VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY FRAMEWORK THEORIES, LITERATURE AND CONCEPTS SERVICES VS. GOODS MARKETING VIEWPOINT CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR OLDER ADULTS IN MARKETING LITERATURE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS SERVICE DESIGN DESIGNING FOR OLDER ADULTS SUMMARY METHODS METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS RESEARCH DESIGN ABDUCTIVE STRATEGY ITERATIVE PROCESS: DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL, STEP 1: DISCOVER Situation and agreements Selection of interviewees Interviews with home care customers Data Analysis Anna Porko Table of Content pp.1-3 1

4 Engaging Home Care Customers in Service-Centre Activities Personas Colour coding DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL, STEP 2: DEFINE Ideation Data Collection - co- creative ideation Data analysis DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL, STEPS 3: DEVELOP Design scenarios Stakeholder mapping Service Blueprint FINDINGS DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL, STEP 1: DISCOVER IMAGE AND KNOWLEDGE IDENTITY CONTENT TO EVERYDAY LIFE CHALLENGES TO PARTICIPATION OTHER INTERESTING FINDINGS DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL, STEP 2: DEFINE A MUTUAL OFFICE BETWEEN HOME CARE AND THE SERVICE- CENTRE SERVICE- CENTRE BUS LINE SERVICE DESIGN - DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL, STEP 3: DEVELOP A MUTUAL OFFICE BETWEEN HOME CARE AND THE SERVICE- CENTRE DESIGN SCENARIO STAKEHOLDER MAPPING SERVICE- CENTRE BUS LINE SERVICE BLUEPRINT DOUBLE DIAMOND MODEL, STEP 4: DELIVER DISCUSSION RESEARCH QUESTIONS QUESTIONS ONE TO THREE QUESTION FOUR Anna Porko Table of Content pp.1-3

5 Engaging Home Care Customers in Service-Centre Activities 7.2 TRANSFERABILITY FUTURE RESEARCH CONCLUSION REFERENCES LITERATURE END NOTES AND WEBSITES APPENDICES Anna Porko Table of Content pp.1-3 3

6 2 INTRODUCTION The ultimate aim of the research project was twofold: to uncover knowledge that would be useful in the design of service-centre based services for older adults in home care; and to use the information thus gained in ideation and service development of such services. Thus, it is a research paper on user-centric service development with a case study in public geriatric services. The current demographic is facing an increase in the number of older adults in the years the baby boomers start retiring en masse. In fact, population ageing is happening in almost all countries of the world. The global share of older people (aged 60 years or over) increased from 9.2 per cent in 1990 to 11.7 per cent in 2013 and will continue to grow as a proportion of the world population, reaching 21.1 per cent by Globally, there were more than 841 million people aged 60 or over in 2013, and the figure is set to more than double by Population ageing has major social and economic consequences. The old-age support ratios (number of working-age adults per older person in the population) are already low in the more developed regions and in some developing countries, and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades with ensuing fiscal pressures on support systems for older persons (United Nations, 2013). This development already increases the strain on public services aimed at older adults, at a time when the world economy is in depression and many countries are forced to make cuts on their public spending. Adding to the situation is the increased life expectancy and illnesses that come with it. While people are living longer lives almost everywhere, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and disability increase as populations age (United Nations, 2013). Cost reduction of public health and social care spending can gain contributions from smoothly functioning and efficient care services to older adults. These services have the potential to empower individuals; battle isolation; improve fitness levels; and enable individuals manage at home for longer. Thus, thoroughly thought out and planned care of older adults has the potential to reduce overall health care costs. The financial view is not the only motivator behind providing services to the aging population. The grounding principle of public services it that everyone has the right to certain services, regardless of income. When access becomes an issue, the society should take a moral stand and address the difficulties, if not for its own moral fibre, then at least as an issue of human 4 Anna Porko Introduction pp.4-14

7 rights. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. 1 Further, ensuring a humane and meaningful existence to the members of ones society addresses not only morality but also questions of equality. Lastly, we are all going to be old and troubled with ailments one day. Most of us have family in this category. Would we not want for their sake as much as for our own to provide support systems that are functional, economically feasible, and sustainable. One way of providing care to older adults is in their homes. This has several positive sides to it: not only is home care considerably more cost effective than institutionalised care is,2 it also allows the individual to stay in a safe and comfortable environment. Servicecentres have the potential to further improve the life quality of older adults living assisted at home, and to provide such services that prolong the period that individuals are capable of staying at home. Another important feature that participation in service-centre led activities provides is that the individuals have more contact with professional staff, who then have the possibility of reacting to potential difficulties and changes in the individuals overall health and situation before they become too big or get out of hand. The research was undertaken as a case study, looking into the factors that influence customer behaviour of a section of home care customers toward a new service-centre being developed in Laajasalo, Helsinki. This service-centre, Rudolf, hopes to be able to cater to home care customers of the region as well as to other pensioners and the unemployed. In addition to the other segments mentioned, the overall project undertaken at Rudolf hopes to bring those customers from home care that are capable of leaving their homes to the service-centre for activities, and to bring service-centre activities to the homes of those who cannot attend otherwise. The research project tackles one portion of this large development project, namely, the development of service-centre activities to improve the attendance for home care customers. Thus, a number of home care customers were interviewed to gain an insight into their needs, wishes and potential limitations. Anna Porko Introduction pp

8 2.1 RESEARCH QUESTIONS The research problem that the questions aim at addressing stems from the background situation as described above. The purpose of the research project is to implement change, and to find solutions that allow service-centres to improve home care customers quality of life and capability of living at home. The participation of home care customers in service-centres is not a given, and not mandatory in any way. The activities provided are voluntary and hobby-like. The assumption at the beginning of the research project was that if the activities and services on offer do not meet an existing need, and are not considered interesting, well executed and entertaining, the incentive to participate is likely to vane. Additionally, many physiological and psychological factors will contribute to the motivation and capability of participation of older adults and home care customers. To understand these factors and to turn this understanding into viable service development proposals was at the heart of the research undertaken. Thus, the research project is looking at customer acquisition in the context of public services, by attempting to provide solutions to the problem of engaging home care customers in service-centre activities. The intention of the research is to create such results that are transferrable to a number of locations where similar situations exist. Namely, to such situations where a service-centre is being developed, new or old, and a customer centric approach to service provision is sought in order to learn from those factors that influence customer participation. The questions set for the study at the beginning of the research project were as follows: 1. What are the factors modifying customer behaviour toward services provided by servicecentres? 2. Why do older adults participate in services provided by service-centres? 3. Why do older adults not participate in services provided by service-centres? 4. How can these factors be accounted for in the service design at the centres? 5. How to address these factors in service development? The questions saw modification during the research project, most of which in connection to the confirmation and formation of the case study. The wording of the first question was re-defined to 6 Anna Porko Introduction pp.4-14

9 1. What are the factors modifying home care customers behaviour toward service-centres? and the second and third questions were formulated accordingly to 2. Why do home care customers participate in service-centres? 3. Why do home care customers not participate in service-centres? The fourth and fifth questions became joined in to one, more comprehensive question 4. How can the service-centres address these factors in their service design? These four re-formulated questions will be discussed in chapter 7 together with the findings of the fieldwork, which are presented in chapter 5. The reference to home care customers in the research questions needs further defining, since the research project includes only one segment of home care costumers, from the region of Laajasalo, Helsinki. The segment comprises of individuals who are described as relatively capable by home care employees, and is discussed in more detail in section 2.2. The interviewees of the research project were chosen with the help of home care nurses. The selection process is described in detail in section CASE DEFINITIONS The first meaningful definition for the project is the unit of analysis of the study: the segment of older adults in home care services. Older adults as a term can have numerous meanings. In this research project, it refers to individuals aged 65 or over, as also defined by Fisk, Rogers, Charness, Czaja, & Sharit in their book titled 'Designing for Older Adults', (2009). This, although United Nations statistics refer to those older adults aged 60 years or more. This difference is due to the available statistics for the Helsinki region, and the public retirement pension age in Finland, which is at present 65, (63-68). 3 There are a number of differing groupings of people within the older adults bracket and a plethora of ways of grouping. This could be for example by living conditions: those living in their homes unassisted; those living in their homes assisted; those living in a care homes; those who live in hospitals; or the many mixtures and combinations of these and other groupings. The research project focuses on a section of older adults living in their homes, with assistance from public home care services, where nurses visit the customers according to a schedule that is created to match the needs of the customer. These visits can be weekly, or they can be thrice a day, or at any other interval that is matched to the customers needs. The case, or the unit of Anna Porko Introduction pp

10 analysis for the study, is a group of home care customers considered to be from the more capable end of the spectrum, most of who have a visit from a home care nurse once a day. Another meaningful definition rising from the description of the unit of analysis above is the home care services, as well as the specific geographic region within which the study takes place. The Home Care Services (domestic services and home nursing) Unit of the Helsinki Health Centre organises nursing, care and the necessary support services in order to maintain the health and functionality and offer care in cases of illness or disorders of the elderly, convalescents, patients suffering from chronic illnesses and disabled people over the age of 18. The objective is to secure the customer s active and safe living at home. 4 Laajasalo is a region within the capital city of Finland, Helsinki. At the turn of the year it had a total of 16,970 inhabitants. Of these inhabitants 19.6%, or 3,326, were aged 65 or over. This is higher than the corresponding read for Helsinki as a city, which stands at 15.8%. 5 Out of the 3,326 people aged 65 and over, c.180 are customers of Laajasalo home care services. It should be noted that this figure is gained from the director of home care unit 2, in January 2015, and the demographics represented are from a report published by Helsinki in January A third meaningful definition for the research project is that of service-centres. Service-centre operations include recreational and leisure activities such as manual skills, study circles and other group activities, physical exercise, programmed activities, excursions, spiritual activities, peer-group activities, volunteering, and social and health counselling. 6 The new service-centre being developed is a daughter location to a larger, diverse, service-centre, titled Roihuvuoren monipuolinen palvelukeskus. This centre has a home for the elderly, a servicecentre, and day activities. Its location is relatively far away from the Laajasalo region and the new Rudolf aims at addressing this issue. Rudolf has existed as an elderly home for customers to live in, with around the clock care and support. The location holds a restaurant and gym facilities in addition to the housing and care units. The lowest level of the building has now been assigned for new kinds of activities, and the service-centre Rudolf is under development. Its aims are to serve the local population of Laajasalo, for whom the distance to Roihuvuori is too great. 2.3 DEVELOPMENT PROJECT IN LAAJASALO The larger project taking place in Laajasalo geriatric services, of which the research project at hand is a part, aims at improving the overall situation of home care services and the service-centre so that they in co-operation can best support the local aged population in living at 8 Anna Porko Introduction pp.4-14

11 home. A part of this is creating solutions that allow home care customers to participate at service-centres, as well as bringing service-centre led activities to the homes. The official plans and materials are available for view in Appendix A. The initial plan of action includes four major steps: The first one is the establishment of the new service-centre, Rudolf. The location for the service-centre is on a street-level floor of an existing home for the elderly. This location is known for many in the region, and has the required infrastructure, removing the need to build a new location. The approach is to be user-led. This is the section that the research project at hand is a part of: Understanding the home care customers needs, wishes and potential limitations, in order to best design service-centre activities that are best fitted for the desired customers. The second step is the establishment of a new office, split half and half between home care services and the service-centre. The main goals for the office are: to be present in the area and the homes of the individuals and to perform knowledge generating work with the home care customers; to network with local organisations such as the library, the church, voluntary organisations, and many others; and to produce services such as activity groups and advice giving. This office is running as a one-year pilot programme, and is at present filled by a social counsellor. The third step is to both improve the attendance of home care customers at service centres, but as well to develop services that can be brought home to those customers who for one reason or another are not capable of leaving their homes to attend activities and events at other premises. The fourth goal of the project at Laajasalo is to create a sustainable model for tighter and closer co-operation between the two parties, home care services and the service-centre. It is also a hope of the project to evaluate this model for use in other locations in the greater Helsinki region. 2.4 DELIMITATIONS Alongside the relatively short amount of space available for the research report, the case study format leads to a number of inevitable exclusions to the study. Thus, there are a number of delimitations to the study at hand. As outlined above, the unit of study is a group of relatively well being home care customers. This excludes a large amount of the overall population of the region, but makes the findings more precise to the problem at hand. The Anna Porko Introduction pp

12 omission includes all other segments of customers of service-centres apart from those who are also customers of home care services, and as such, who may be capable of leaving their homes. This excludes not only a large portion of home care customers, but also the unemployed and the large number of pensioners who manage independently and do not require home care services. Another delimitation to the study is also derived from the case, where the pre-made decisions and available resources mean that the services being developed to improve the lifequality of home care customers are to fit into the bracket of service-centres, as defined and decided by the city of Helsinki. Further, the study aims at uncovering those factors that influence customer behaviour with regard to participation in activities that are hobby-like and voluntary by nature. This means that other health-related factors, such as lifestyle, possible alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking are not relevant to the study at hand although they do play a role in the general health and therefore influence the individuals ability to live at home for longer one of the overall goals of the development project at Rudolf. The exception to this is such a situation where it is evident that an interviewee would not participate at service-centres due to an alcohol problem, for example. It should also be noted that regardless of the scope of the development project at service-centre Rudolf at large, the present project has at its focus the development of service centre activities in which home care customers can participate outside of the home, and not those services that can be brought home to the customers unable to leave. The study does not intend to dwell deep into psychological factors that influence customer behaviour, nor to other aspects that are the premises of health care services. Rather, the intention is to understand the day-to-day experiences of the home care customers interviewed, and based on that insight, to offer potential solutions that would enable service-centres to be better involved in the care. 2.5 CONVENTIONS REGARDING INTERVIEW MATERIALS The notes of interviews are available in Appendix B. They are numbered, from one to eighteen, and referred to in the main body of text by that number. After consultation it was decided that the interview notes remain in their original language, Finnish, and are not translated to English. The exception to this are those quotes that are borrowed into the main body of the report, and those parts of the notes that are presented in the data table, formed in the process of data analysis, section The identities of the interviewees are classified, and no such material that would allow for recognition is included. 10 Anna Porko Introduction pp.4-14

13 2.6 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY The concepts of validity and reliability originally concern quantitative research, and researchers have discussed their relevance for qualitative work, such as the present research project, at length. The general consensus seems to be that the meanings of terms need to be altered (Bryman, 2012). The present project follows the argument by Guba & Lincoln (1985, 1994), who parallel internal validity with credibility, external validity with transferability, reliability with dependability and objectivity with confirmability. Credibility, which refers to the acceptability of the account the researcher arrives at (Bryman, 2012), will be addressed through the methods employed. They are discussed in chapter 4, which aims at giving a description to confirm that the research was carried out according to the canons of good practice (Bryman, 2012). In places where relevant, it also shows that the findings were submitted to review for confirmation. This was not possible with the interviewed home care customers, but the home care nurses and directors were consulted. The external validity of the case study is defined as the generalizability of a study s findings beyond the immediate case study by Yin (2009). Lincoln and Guba call this transferability and suggest that the degree of transferability is a direct function of the similarity between the two contexts. They continue with a statement that If Context A and Context B are sufficiently congruent, then working hypotheses from the sending original context may be applicable in the receiving context (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). This argues that a case study approach such as undertaken in the present research project has the potential to produce results that may be applicable in a similar setting. For the purposes of the study, this would imply that a closely build suburb environment with similar public service provisions and with a similar demographic as that of Laajasalo could well make use of the overall findings of the study, whereas the intermediary findings of the interview results themselves should be representative of a similar population, no matter the general demographic or public service provision of the region. Reliability refers to the procedures undertaken, and the level of reporting on them, and is paralleled with dependability. The objective is to be sure that, if a later investigator followed the same procedures as described by an earlier investigator and conducted the same case study all over again, the later investigator should arrive at the same findings and Anna Porko Introduction pp

14 conclusions (Yin, 2009). This is the purpose of the very detailed section on methods, which aims at providing a roadmap that a later investigator could follow. Confirmability is concerned with ensuring that the researcher can be shown to have acted in good faith; in other words, it should be apparent that he or she has not overtly allowed personal values or theoretical inclinations manifestly to sway the conduct of the research and the findings derived from it (Bryman, 2012). The paper proceeds to show how theory was used in the selection of methods and approach, then discarded for the duration of research, to be consulted again in connection to the findings. Further, although it is impossible for social research to be completely objective, the researcher focused on formulating questions and discussion in such a manner that would impact the responses as little as possible, to arrive at the most accurate view of the social reality of the respondents. 2.7 FRAMEWORK In order to explore the home care customer s relationship to service-centres, and offer tangible solutions to improve their attendance at the centres, the present project consists of two main parts: a theoretical and an empirical part. The theoretical part is presented in chapter 3 and consists of a brief review of theoretical models and concepts in the literature, relevant to the study at hand. It illustrates why the existing models on customer acquisition and consumer behaviour may not be applicable to the context of home care customers and public services, and why therefore service design is chosen as an approach. The empirical part splits further into two subparts: an abductive research process and a practical part, which uses insights from the research process in concrete service design. The chapter on findings of the first part of the empirical research process also reflects shortly on relevant research. The research relevant to the findings are located thus since the theoretical framework in chapter 3 is concerned with the situation before the empirical study. This first part of the empirical research, the abductive research process, aims at answering the first three research questions by creating understanding of the everyday life of a segment of home care customers from Laajasalo (see 2.1 above). The first stage of abductive research strategy is to discover how social actors view and understand that part of their world of interest to the researcher (Blaikie, 2009). Thus, the first step of the overall process was creating a research design, to among other factors define those parts of the world of interest to the researcher. This includes the definition of the research problem, formulation of research questions and the search for a case study, which when established in 12 Anna Porko Introduction pp.4-14

15 turn helped to define the problem and questions further, as demonstrated above. The fieldwork was conducted next and the chapter 4 on methods gives a thorough roadmap to it. The second subsection of the empirical part, also described in the chapter on methods, has its own stage of data collection and analysis and the findings of these, together with the insights gained from the abductive research conducted, are bound together in chapter 6, Service Design, where concrete service design possibilities for Laajasalo home care and servicecentre Rudolf are considered in answer to the fourth research question (see 2.1 above). These proposals and findings are then discussed in chapter 7, Discussion, in connection to the research questions and transferability. As the framework describes, the role of theory in the research study at hand is for the most part separate from the abductive, empirical research itself. [The abductive] strategy involves developing descriptions and constructing theory that is grounded in everyday activities, and/or in the language and meanings of social actors. It has two stages: describing these activities and meanings; and deriving categories and concepts that can form basis of an understanding of the problem at hand (Blaikie, 2009). Similarly to inductive strategy, the ultimate aim of abductive strategy is to create, rather than test. Therefore, the researcher wishing to uncover knowledge from the social actors should enter fieldwork without being burdened by theory or concepts. Following this, the section discussing concepts, theories and literature is separate from the two parts of the research process and aimed at giving an explanation to the necessity of the work undertaken, the approach selected and the how previous research guided that selection. The other role of theory in abductive strategy is its discovery through the empirical research. The data and the emerging findings are intertwined in a creative process of development (Blaikie, 2009). The second part of the research project thus reflects the findings of the initial interviews, as well as the results of the co-creative ideation meeting in which these findings, their implications and the service proposals based on them are discussed. The framework of the research project is visualised below in picture 1. Overall, it resembles practical action research, where the findings of the research guide its development in sometimesunexpected directions. One phase surrenders results that guide the following phase this iterative spiral can continue for unpredictable periods of time, and lead to unexpected directions and findings (Heikkinen, Rovio, & Syrjälä, 2006). Anna Porko Introduction pp

16 Picture 1: Visualisation of the research framework 14 Anna Porko Introduction pp.4-14

17 3 THEORIES, LITERATURE AND CONCEPTS This chapter examines the theories, literature and concepts relevant to the research problem, questions and purposes as outlined in the Introduction. It briefly reviews the current models in the literature and concludes in the choice of a methodological approach for the paper. First however, a brief view into the definition of services in general, in order to establish how they differ from goods, and how this influences the customers decision-making processes and therefore the activities recommended for the vendor. This distinction is important since the present research study deals exclusively with services. 3.1 SERVICES VS. GOODS Since marketing literature began acknowledging the difference between services and goods with the first works in the 1960 s, 7 the field of service research has steadily grown through a body of literature, not limited to publication in The Journal of Service Marketing, first published in 1987, to a recently published (2012) book on Services Marketing, aimed at business schools. 8 Many of the identified classifications and differences send ripples through various fields of research, including a number of those relevant to this research project, namely, consumer behaviour and consumer relationship management therefore also customer acquisition. The impact does not end here, but service research has also resulted in new fields of study, such as service design. Although services and goods can both be considered and described as products, the defining features of services arise from their classification as deeds, processes and performances meaning that they are intangible, heterogeneous, perishable and not separable between consumption and production. These definitions are comparable to goods in that they in turn are tangible, standardised, non-perishable and their production is separate from consumption (Wilson, Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2012). For the consumer this means that purchasing a service requires a different set of choice mechanisms and quality assessments than purchasing a good. In buying a car, for example, the consumer has control of the tangible factors such as number of gears or colour of the car. These can all be viewed and considered before decisionmaking. One Ford Fiesta is by guarantee always the same as the other Ford Fiesta next to it. It has certain expectancy for functionality and life and if it deviates, it can be returned. The car will Anna Porko Theories, Literature and Concepts pp

18 also be produced before it can be used. Buying a service is not quite that straightforward. For example, when buying the services of a hairdresser there are no tangible factors apart from the location and the tools used the factory surrounding the deliverable service. The haircutting procedure itself cannot be assessed by tangible factors beforehand, anymore than the resulting cut can. Neither is the process of the cut, or the result, the same every time in the same salon, not even when performed by the same hairdresser. It is always a sum of the present circumstances. The service takes a certain time, which can be estimated, but once it is done and the haircut is made, it cannot be returned. The service is consumed and produced simultaneously, the haircutting being a process and a performance. Thus, the evaluation and choice of a service, such as hairdressing, will be based on very different sources, mechanisms and factors than those of a good, such as a car. The impact of these differences to marketers, vendors and producers accustomed to the more traditional view of goods is significant, yet it will be further added to when considering public services, the circumstances of which differ from commercial enterprises. Unlike traditional businesses the aims of public services are not to generate profit to shareholders, but to ensure that certain services are available to all, regardless of income. The composition of the organisations is vastly different, as are the methods by which they operate. The most notable difference to the consumer however, relates to the price and availability of the service. Many public services are cheaper to purchase than their privately produced alternatives, if alternatives exist. Many public services have no cost to the customer at all. Thus the consumption of public services is likely to be influenced by a variety of factors that differ from those of the commercially focused offerings, bringing it to question whether models of commercial services are applicable in a public service setting. 3.2 MARKETING VIEWPOINT CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR Consumer behaviour research discusses the process that consumers individuals or organisations employ in their relationship with products and brands. It is defined as the full range of decisions and activities involved in evaluating, acquiring, using and disposing of goods or services by Sandhusen (2000). As discussed briefly above, the difference between goods and services is notable and this is reflected in the activities involved. A model for considering three 16 Anna Porko Theories, Literature and Concepts pp.15-22

19 chronological stages of consumer behaviour in services is proposed by Wilson, Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler (2012) in chapter two of their book Services Marketing. The first one of these stages, and the one relevant to the first three research questions, is titled consumer choice. It includes need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives and finally service purchase. The second stage is consumer experience and the third stage post-experience evaluation. Consumer choice and the activities and processes it entails are of importance for the service provider, so as to enable matching an existing need, communicating the right image and information, in the right place and time, to lead to the consumer to choosing the specific service and provider. The three stages in consumer choice leading to the decision to purchase are chronological. The first one is recognising a need and Wilson et al. use Maslow s classical hierarchy 9 in distinguishing five categories to which a variety of needs are distributed. However, they disregard any hierarchy but use these classifications simply as categories to discuss different drivers of behaviour. These five categories are: physiological and biological needs; safety and security needs; social needs; ego needs; and self-actualisation needs. The move from need recognition to information search may be subconscious, and not recognised by the consumer. However, once recognised, consciously or not, the consumer proceeds to obtaining information about how to satisfy this need. This search can be very formal, thorough and prolonged, like in choosing a home insurance provider, or in contrast, very swift and hardly noticeable, like the scanning for a place to sit down for a refreshment. The search is followed by and partly overlapping with the evaluation of alternatives. The amount of alternatives in a given geographical area can be relatively limited, and the type of service needed influences the number of options available. A sunny downtown square is likely to have several terraces to choose between, but the town itself may well only have one taxi company. This exemplifies how the understanding of the process of consumer choice is of greater importance to those organisations that face competition in their field, and less relevant to those services that represent the only alternative, as is often the case with public services to a number of their customers OLDER ADULTS IN MARKETING LITERATURE The lack of theoretical and methodological bases for studying the consumer behaviour of older adults is discussed by G. P. Moschis in an article that reviews previous research efforts in the study of older consumers (G. Moschis, 2012). He recognises that consumer behaviour models, with such factors as Wilson et al. s consumer choice, discussed above, may Anna Porko Theories, Literature and Concepts pp

20 be invalid when discussing older adults, and points to a large body of psychological studies on cognition, with focus on the decision making skills of older adults, leading to optimal choices. One such study states that person context fit will be higher for older consumers when tasks are familiar or meaningful, occur without time pressure or at optimal times of day, and in environments that do not activate negative age stereotypes (Yoon, Cole, & Lee, 2009). In addition to these cognitive approaches that have been somewhat dominant in the field, Williams & Drolet (2005) have discovered that the older consumers react more strongly to emotional cues than their younger counterparts who have a higher recall and liking for rational appeals. These notions highlight some valuable insights to service providers wishing to acquire new customers, from the aging population, to their services. They also carry implications to the design of that service, and imply that traditional models may not be applicable in considering the older consumers CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS As a term customer acquisition, or the gaining of new customers, derives from classical customer relationship management/marketing (CRM). The goal of relationship marketing is to build and maintain a base of committed customers who are profitable for the organisation (Wilson et al., 2012). Customer acquisition is a part of the customer life cycle, which comprises of four activities that are: select -who to target; acquire -attracting those selected; retain -striving for re-purchases; and extend -sell other products to the now existing customer (Chaffey, 2011). This view pertains mostly to generating sales driven profit. Wilson et al. discuss the relationship marketing in services, and employ a different approach. They divide customers into four different categories depending on the relationship between the customer and the organisation. These categories are: Strangers, Acquaintances, Friends and Partners. Strangers are those customers who may not be aware of the organisation, and who have not had any interactions with the organisation; Acquaintances are those customers who are aware of the organisation, and are willing to give the offering a try; Friends are customers who continue to make purchases, and of whom the organisation can acquire knowledge, to better address the customers situation; Customers as Partners are committed to the company, they have a trust bond, and the company successfully employs the knowledge on the customer to solve customer s problems (Wilson et al., 2012). 18 Anna Porko Theories, Literature and Concepts pp.15-22

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