Communication in Service Marketing: Importance, Channels, and Strategies

In the service marketing process, various communication channels are used to create effective and efficient information flow between the service company and the service customer.

Communication is used to inform customers about the services offered, persuade customers that the service offered is the best solution for their needs, and remind customers about the services and motivate them to buy them.

Communication activities are directed not only at attracting new customers but also at keeping current customers by reinforcing their loyalty and making repeat sales.

Service customers use internal and external communication channels to gather information and minimize their perceived risk by limiting uncertainty.

Form of Communication in Service Marketing

The forms of communication in the service sector can be grouped into two main categories:

  • primary communication and
  • secondary communication
Process of Communication in Service Marketing
Process of Communication in Service Marketing

Primary Communication

Primary communication is the way of communication which can be planned, managed, and controlled by the management of the service company. There are two communication channels in the primary communication category through which information is transmitted

  • from management to customer and
  • from management to employee.

Corporate communication

Corporate communication is a term used to explain the primary communication at a company.

Corporate communication can be defined as “an instrument of management by means of which all consciously used forms of internal and external communication are harmonized as to create a favorable basis for relationship with groups upon which the company is dependent.”

The communication between management and customer constitutes the external part of the corporate communication, whereas the internal part of corporate communication takes place between the management and the service employees.

Corporate identity is composed of corporate behavior, corporate design, and corporate communication, and serves as a concept for creating orientation between image, wording, and doings of a company.

A uniform attitude of the employees in and out of the company is reached through implementing a well-functioning corporate behavior understanding. Corporate design is the visual formation of the corporate values.

Finally, corporate communication is attached to integrate the internal and external communication processes and to protect the uniform image.

Communication Strategies

After defining the object, target group, and message, a service company searches for the right methods, timing, and area by creating a communication strategy.

Management uses different classical communication tools (TV advertising, PR, promotion, etc.) and innovative communication tools (interactive marketing, sponsoring, free-media, etc.) to build effective and efficient communication with the service customers.

Customers not only stand as recipients but also play an active role in the corporate communication.

They communicate their evaluation of the services, including recommendations and complaints, which help the management while optimizing the services offered, through different media which give the service customers the chance to communicate with the service company directly such as hotlines, mailing, etc.

Internal Marketing and Interpersonal Communication

Internal marketing is an approach used in the communication process between the management and the employees.

Internal marketing can be defined as: the “systematic optimization of internal processes of a company with marketing and human resources management instruments which are directed to place marketing as an internal understanding through a consequent and synchronized customer and employee orientation in order to reach the market targets of the company efficiently”.

Interpersonal communication is a vital aspect of effective communication between management and employees in any organization. It serves as both a product and a facilitator of communication, helping to create a better shared understanding of the company’s goals and values.

Approaches to communication between management and employees

There are three different approaches to communication between management and employees:

  • sender-oriented,
  • receiver-oriented, and
  • interactionist.

Sender-oriented communication focuses on the effectiveness of the sender’s communication efforts without considering the involvement of the recipients.

Receiver-oriented communication seeks to understand the type of information employees need, use, and what motivates them to seek and use organizational information.

The interactionist perspective extends the receiver-oriented approach by examining how receivers interact with a cultural context to arrive at a definition of company circumstances and the receiver’s role in those circumstances.

Planning process of internal marketing

The planning process of internal marketing can be classified in five stages, starting with an internal and external situation analysis. The planning process continues with strategic planning, including defining the focal point and main targets, segmenting employees, and planning the budget.

During operational planning, marketing and human resources management instruments are selected, and after implementing the internal marketing strategy, management finalizes the process with a controlling phase to investigate if the targets of internal marketing were reached.

Employee satisfaction and commitment are crucial for the quality of consumer service, customer satisfaction, and motivation in any organization.

As such, management initiates communication with employees through various media, such as regular meetings, letters from the chairman, intranet, and employee magazines.

With this communication, employees can share complaints about services provided to customers, new ideas for future projects, and possible changes in the market with management.

Secondary Communication in Service Marketing

Secondary communication occurs between employees and customers, which management cannot directly influence. The sender may transmit the information incompletely or erroneously, and the receiver may interpret it subjectively.

As a result of integrating the service customer as an external factor in the service production, employees of a service company contact the service customers directly (personal communication) or through a medium such as telephone or email.

Even with the increasing automation of customer contact in various service sectors, the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as direct and personal interaction with service customers, remains essential.

For example, despite the increasing automation of customer contact in banking services, employee competence is vital for customer satisfaction by creating trust.

The Importance of Customer and Employee Satisfaction and Loyalty

A service company can obtain important information about the perceived quality of its services, determinants of success, and market determinants from the communication between employees and customers.

In this respect, employee satisfaction and loyalty are as crucial as customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The interaction between service employee and service customer can be grouped into three categories based on the duration of the interaction, which varies from service to service.

  • Start-stop interactions are short interactions that generally show low complexity levels regarding the service.
  • Punctual interactions occur if there is a membership-like relationship.
  • Continuous interaction which lasts as long as the service duration and is bound with the complexity of the service.

As a result of these characteristics, service employees in start-stop interactions can be changed without difficulty, whereas in continuous interaction, it is hardly possible.

There are three components to conceptualize and manage internal communications as the atmosphere for communication, the communication process and the communication methods.

“The atmosphere for communication refers to the organizational context in which the communication is developed and the overall ambience of the business”.

This influences how the employees choose to communicate and how their messages will ultimately be received.

Besides the guidelines at companies concerning communication between employees, informal information channels are used very often. Although formal communication occurs in the vertical channels, horizontal channels serve for informal communication.

The formal communication is managed according to the guidelines of the company. Therefore the probability that the right information is transmitted between the employees is very high.

In contrast to this, during informal communication employees do not follow the guidelines of the company and this causes subjectivity of the information transmitted.

Linear Model

Linear models are promoted in the marketing literature which mostly share the form of sequential decision-making models.

Creating a communication strategy and defining the extent to which such linear models may be appropriate in the internal organization are two points that should be considered.

Concerning the communications methods, there are several issues that an organization can examine.

  • Firstly, the overall balance between different forms of communication, the categories of information and the recipients of the information are defined.
  • Secondly, the manner in which the communication will occur is designed.

The hierarchical way of communication is from the management to front-line employee.

As an alternative to this communication process the bottom up approach uses questionnaires, suggestion boxes and hotlines and gives the front-line the chance to play active role in the communication process.

The immateriality of the services causes uncertainty and risk for the service customers as the quality of the service is hard to guess before buying or consuming it.

Read: Consumer Service: Definition, Examples, Benefits, Differences

In this respect, the comments and experiences of other customers serve as reference point for the new customers.

Reputation of a service company is developed by its existing customers as the satisfied customers often advice the service company to their friends and families.

  • The new customers see this way of promoting the services of a company which is called “word-of-mouth” mostly more reliable than advertising.

Word-of-mouth can be not only positive but also negative. With keeping the exponential power of the word-of-mouth, service companies design loyalty programs which strengthen long-term customer relationships.


This process of communication in service marketing starts with identifying and targeting the right customer, continues with learning their needs and ends up with serving them the proper services and incentives in order to keep them as loyal customers.


Tofunmi is a BA, MBA, and experienced Researcher in Business Administration and Management. He possesses outstanding communication, leadership, conflict resolution, organization, and teamwork skills. He enjoys teaching and reading books on startups, business, personal finance, investment, and more.

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