Marketing of services has attained greater significance over the years, due to globalization and the increasing competition at a global level (Cunningham, Young, Ulaga & Lee, 2004). The services sector is has grown substantially in the recent years and hence has become an integral part of economy. In order for firms to survive in such a highly competitive industry, marketing of services is inevitable (Lovelock, Wirtz, 2004). In the realm of marketing, innovation holds supreme significance. It is only through innovation that firms can differentiate their products / services in the market and generate value and relevance for their services or products in the eyes of their target market / segments (Kleinknecht, 2000: 169-186).
The development of technology fuelled by a simultaneous development in the field of information and technology, has led to a complete transformation with regard to delivery and execution of various services. It has now, completely revolutionized the manner in which services were executed, and hence widened the scope to product and process the services. The opening of various global economies has further expanded the playing field for various firms, thus further intensifying the competition at a global level....
According to Pride and Ferrell (2006) the term customer contact is defined as "the level of interaction between the service provider and the customer necessary to deliver the service" (Pp. 367). High contact services, include such services as observed in: healthcare, real estate, legal issues, hair care, healthcare services etc., while low-contact services include: tax preparation, auto repair, dry cleaning etc. High-contact services entail the presence of the customer at the time of service delivery while there is no such requirement in case of low-contact services. For instance, in hospitality industry, the customer presence is necessary and inevitable to enjoy or avail the services, while in case of low-contact services such as auto-repair, for instance, the customer need not be present while the repair work is in progress (Pride and Ferrell, 2006). In case of high-contact services, the customer is generally required to visit the service site, while there is no such pre-requisite in case of a low-contact service. Instead, access to the service is made available to the customers, via a method called self-service, for instance, as is observed in case of e-card delivery; buying from a kiosk; or via the internet. The contact points are usually held in remote places, and there is no actual physical contact between the service providers and the customers. Thus, in each service transaction the customers have very low contact with the service provider, as compared to that in case of a high-contact service. The service marketing system with regard to high-contact and low-contact services can be better explained with the help of the following diagrams: Figure 1: Service delivery system in a high-contact service Figure 2: Service delivery system in a