However, this is never the case with services marketing.
A marketing department of a service business can only control a small part of the marketing function, because it does not have the necessary authority to manage the buyer-seller interactions (interactive marketing). Therefore, the services marketing department cannot plan or implement activities pertaining to interactive marketing function, i.e. the marketing function which results from service provider – customer interactions. Therefore, the marketing function in health care services organisation has to be conceived from three different perspectives: the perspective of External-marketing. Internal-marketing and Interactive-Marketing the traditional marketing mix addresses itself to external marketing only. However, the marketing department has to get involved in any and every way it can with interactive marketing.
Interactive marketing and internal marketing are interdependent or rather closely related. In the former the marketing department gets involved; in the latter the highest level of the management has to involve itself. Internal marketing, however, is more of a responsibility of the management of the organisation rather than of the marketing department. Internal marketing perspective is described in detail below.
Internal/indirect customer: One of the important customer groups is not outside but within the health care organisation itself. The organisation runs more smoothly if everyone in the organisation treats the other employees as customers. Maintaining a positive relationship with them is as vital as with the external customer. The following groups from the internal or indirect customers of health care organisations: i.
Physicians ii. Employees of service providers. Role of internal marketing: In service marketing, internal marketing plays a critical role. Promises that have been made to customers implicitly or explicitly are required to be fulfilled by the employees. Internal marketing is the building of customer orientation among employees by training and motivating both the customer contact personnel and the support staff to work as a team. Internal marketing can be defined as (Benoy, 1996) The application of marketing, human resources management and allied theories, techniques and principles to motivate, mobilise, co-opt, and manage employees at all levels of the organisation to continually improve the way they serve external customers and each other.
Effective marketing responds to employee needs as it advances the organization’s mission and goals. Health care business which is labour intensive and demands high levels of personal contact between employees of service provider and customers, no market plan can be considered complete unless it includes strategies for reaching out and wining over its internal customers (Benoy, 1996). The activities involved in internal marketing include training employees, empowerment, knowing employee’s needs, good internal communication, and measuring and rewarding quality. The importance of the employees in delivery of quality service means that they should not be ignored as relevant communication targets. Means of such communications are newsletters, house magazines or staff forums. If the house magazine features employees doing their jobs, it communicates to them that they are important.
These communications can help to manage customer’s expectations as well as to know what to expect from the customers. Also, internal communication can no longer be regarded as a way for the organisation communicating to employee with no feedback mechanism. Managers need to listen as well as to inform.
The marketing in-charge: If an administrator with a marketing background is available in the organisation who is handling some other responsibility, such a person can be given the charge of the marketing function. Failing the in house availability of such a person the organisation should select an individual with formal qualification in marketing management. If the hospital employs a person with marketing skill, but who is without experience in health service, then the hospital should expose the person thoroughly to the working of the hospital in all its departments.