BGSU hosts national services-marketing competition

It’s all about the customer.

For any business, customer satisfaction is at the top of the list, which makes services marketing vital to the United States economy. Services make up a majority of American jobs and the largest percentage of the country’s gross domestic product.

However, only six universities in the country have an institute or center devoted to services marketing. One of those is Bowling Green State University, which is also the only Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited school in the country with an undergraduate program focused on services marketing and selling.

That’s why BGSU has invited top services-marketing students and businesses from around the country for the first collegiate National Services Marketing Competition Thursday-Saturday (Feb. 13-15).

“We felt that a competition like this would bring greater awareness of the importance of services and encourage students and colleges to pursue services and services marketing at their universities,” said David Reid, director of BGSU’s Services Marketing Institute.

Participating schools include James Madison University, Kent State University, Ohio Northern University, University of Texas-Pan American, University of Toledo and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Each school has a team of three or four students who will compete in at least three rounds. BGSU’s team is coached by Dr. Dwayne Gremler, an internationally known services-marketing expert.

Representing BGSU will be Kelsey Aufdencamp, Victoria Etts, Ashley Flanigan and Michelle Terry.

“Our team has been hard at work, spending countless hours reviewing the service process and our notes from Dr. Gremler's class last semester,” Terry said. “In order to fully prepare for the competition we have been researching various elements of services marketing, including the gaps model of service. We look forward to representing BGSU in this competition, and are excited to show what we have learned in our time here.”

Before the national competition begins on Feb. 13, as part of round one, the teams will each come up with a service-marketing blueprint for the Services marketing Patron Sponsor, which is Garage Management Co. this year.

For round two, teams will be presented a major service issue from a different company that they will have to fix.  

“Typically, a business will go wrong when they do not know what customer's expectations are or when they do not know how to meet customer's expectations; these are considered ‘service quality gaps,’" Flanigan explained.

In round three, one representative from each team will handle a customer service complaint. While dealing with the complaint, the students will be recorded in the BGSU College of Business Communications Lab.

“All four students have taken the Services Marketing class from me in past semesters, and that is the primary preparation,” Gremler said. “In this class, students must create a service blueprint for a local service provider. So all four students had already been through the service blueprint experience once. I am confident that this prepared them well in tackling the blueprint part of the competition. We met as a group a couple of times, and I provided them with feedback on the Garage Management blueprint as they were constructing it.

“In that class we also discussed service recovery (how firms respond to service delivery system failures). So, again, the class they took from me should have prepared them nicely for that part of the competition. As to the customer service complaint part of the competition, the two students most likely to participate in that portion have both had significant work experience in positions that required them to interact with customers. That experience, along with what they learned in the Services Marketing course, should put them in a good position to do well in that aspect of the competition.”

All the scores will be calculated leading up to the final round. The top three teams will present their blueprints and any recommendations they have for Garage Management on its service delivery to a panel of judges.

The judges through the three days are representatives from sponsors such as Ben Goff of Brown & Brown, Jennifer Adams of Marathon and Dash Yost of the Tom James Co., and Maggie Corder of TQL.

The winning team receives $500 per team member, which makes the event even more competitive.

“Competitions like these are electric; the students get all charged up, learn a lot, and have a great time while they are doing it,” Reid said.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit the BGSU competition website.