Servicescapes: The impact of physical surroundings on customers and employees. Bitner, M. J.

Résumé :

A typology of service organizations is presented and a conceptual framework is advanced for exploring the impact of physical surroundings on the behaviors of both customers and employees. The ability of the physical surroundings to facilitate achievement of organizational as well as marketing goals is explored. Literature from diverse disciplines provides theoretical grounding for the framework, which serves as a base for focused propositions. By examining the multiple strategic roles that physical surroundings can exert in service organizations, the author highlights key managerial and research implications.

  • Une typologie des organisations de services est présentée et un cadre conceptuel est mis au point pour explorer l’impact des environnements physiques sur les comportements des clients et des employés. La capacité de l’environnement physique à faciliter la réalisation d’objectifs organisationnels et marketing est explorée. Une littérature de diverses disciplines fournit une base théorique au cadre, qui sert de base à des propositions ciblées. En examinant les multiples rôles stratégiques que l’environnement physique peut jouer dans les organisations de services, l’auteur met en évidence les principales implications en termes de gestion et de recherche.

Mots clefs :

Marketing, Servicescape, behaviour, physical surrounding, organization, interactions

Développement :

The effect of atmospherics, or physical design and decor elements, on consumers and workers is recognized by managers and mentioned in virtually all marketing, retailing, and organizational behavior texts.

Managers continually plan, build, change, and control an organization’s physical surroundings, but frequently the impact of a specific design or design change on ultimate users of the facility is not fully understood. The ability of the physical environment to influence behaviors and to create an image is particularly apparent for service businesses such as hotels, restaurants, professional offices, banks, retail stores, and hospitals (Baker 1987; Bitner 1986; Booms and Bitner 1982; Kotler 1973; Shostack 1977; Upah and Fulton 1985; Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry 1985).  Because the service generally is produced and consumed simultaneously, the consumer is “in the factory,” often experiencing the total service within the firm’s physical facility.

Le fait que les comportements des individus soit influencer ou impacter par les changements/ modifications physique autour d’eux nous renvoi au sensoriel. Les 5 sens sont le toucher, le gouts, l’odorat, l’ouïe, la vue. Chaque sens peut être impacter différemment par l’environnement physique. De plus, on se rend compte que les entreprises de services sont plus impacté par cela car que les entreprise de produits car le service est co-créer dans l’entreprise par le client et le personnel. De plus, il est simultanément consommer. Un service est intangible, indissociable, variable et périssable.

purchase, consumers commonly look for cues about the firm’s capabilities and quality (Berry and Clark 1986; Shostack 1977).

Research suggests that the physical setting may also influence the customer’s ultimate satisfaction with the service (Bitner 1990; Harrell, Hutt, and Anderson 1980).

in service organizations the same physical setting that communicates with and influences customers may affect employees of the firm (Baker, Berry, and Parasuraman 1988). Research in organizational behavior suggests that the physical setting can influence employee satisfaction, productivity, and motivation (e.g., Becker 1981; Davis 1984; Steele 1986; Sundstrom and Altman 1989; Sundstrom and Sundstrom 1986; Wineman 1986).

For example, in the Milliman experiments, music tempo was varied and the effect on a variety of consumer behaviors was measured

L’environnement physique impacte à la fois le consommateur/ client mais également l’employer. De plus comme il travaille ensemble pour co-créer ce service il est nécessaire que l’environnement physique impacte positivement les 2 parties. En effet, si l’employé est impacté négativement alors il influera de façon négative sur le consommateur et sur le service réalisé.

Because services generally are purchased and consumed simultaneously, and typically require direct human contact, customers and employees interact with each other within the organization’s physical facility. Ideally, therefore, the organization’s environment should support the needs and preferences of both service employees and customers simultaneously.

“The way the physical setting is created in organizations has barely been tapped as a tangible organizational resource” (Becker 1981, p. 130).

the physical setting can aid or hinder the accomplishment of both internal organizational goals and external marketing goals.

The physical surroundings are, in general, more important in service settings because customers as well as employees often experience the firm’s facility. However, not all service firms and industries are alike (Lovelock 1983; Schmenner 1986)

For interpersonal services, both organizational and marketing objectives could potentially be targeted through careful design of the servicescape. Even marketing goals such as relationship building (Crosby, Evans, and Cowles 1990) could be influenced by the design of the physical setting

That human behavior is influenced by the physical setting in which it occurs is essentially a truism. Interestingly, however, until the 1960s psychologists largely ignored the effects of physical setting in their attempts to predict and explain behavior. Since that time, a large and steadily growing body of literature within the field of environmental psychology has addressed the relationships between human beings and their built environments (for reviews of environmental psychology, see Darley and Gilbert 1985; Holahan 1986; Russell and Ward 1982; Stokols and Altman 1987)

à L’hôtellerie est considéré comme un service interpersonnel. Dans ce genre de service on remarque que des les relations entre les individus soit influencé en fonction de l’environnement physique qui les entoure. Ainsi, des rencontres peuvent être plus favorable sous certaines conditions.

Environmental psychologists suggest that individuals react to places with two general, and opposite, forms of behavior: approach and avoidance (Mehrabian and Russell 1974). Approach behaviors include all positive behaviors that might be directed at a particular place, such as desire to stay, explore, work, and affiliate (Mehrabian and Russell 1974). Avoidance behaviors reflect the opposite, in other words, a desire not to stay, explore, work, and affiliate.

Milliman (1982, 1986) found that the tempo of background music can affect traffic flow and gross receipts in both supermarket and restaurant settings.

As Figure 2 shows, the approach/avoidance behaviors of employees and customers are determined largely by individual intemal responses (cognitive, emotional, and physiological) to the environment. The three types of internal responses are discussed in greater detail subsequently. The basic assumption is that positive (negative) intemal responses lead to approach (avoidance) behaviors.

Bennett and Bennett (1970) state that “all social interaction is affected by the physical container in which it occurs.” They go on to suggest that the physical container affects the nature of social interaction in terms of the duration of interaction and the actual progression of events.

Les individus réagissent différemment à l’environnement physique qui les entourent. Leur comportement peut être positif ce qui est appelé « approach » ou de façon négative « avoidance ».  Ce comportement/ réaction va refléter l’expérience ressenti par le client lors de son séjour à l’hôtel par exemple.

Forgas (1979) suggests that environmental variables such as propinquity, seating arrangements, size, and flexibility can define the possibilities and limits of social episodes, such as those between and among customers and employees.

Behaviors such as small group interaction, friendship formation, participation, aggression, withdrawal, and helping have all been shown to be influenced by environmental conditions (Holahan 1982).

Examples are again abundant in actual service settings. Even casual observation of a Club Med facility confirms that the highly complex setting is designed to encourage social interaction among and between guests and employees. Seating arrangements and the food preparation process at Benihana restaurants similarly encourage interactions among total strangers, as well as contact between patrons and the Japanese chef who prepares their meals in full view.

Nous remarquons que des variables environnementales telles que la proximité, la disposition des sièges, la taille et la flexibilité peuvent définir les possibilités et les limites tels que celles entre les clients et les employés. Elles peuvent également  favorisé l’interaction entre les différents clients.

the perceived servicescape may elicit cognitive responses (Golledge 1987; Kaplan and Kaplan 1982; Rapoport 1982), influencing people’s beliefs about a place and their beliefs about the people and products found in that place. In that sense, the environment can be viewed as a form of nonverbal communication (Broadbent, Bunt, and Jencks 1980; Rapoport 1982), imparting meaning through what Ruesch and Kees (1956) called “object language.”

In addition to influencing cognitions, the perceived servicescape may elicit emotional responses that in turn influence behaviors. In a long stream of research, Mehrabian and Russell and their colleagues have programmatically explored emotional responses to environments (e.g., Mehrabian and Russell 1974; Russell and Lanius 1984; Russell and Pratt 1980; Russell and Snodgrass 1987). Through their research they have concluded that the emotion-eliciting qualities of environments are captured by two dimensions: pleasure-displeasure and degree of arousal

Research also suggests that emotional responses to the environment may be transferred to people and/or objects within the environment (Maslow and Mintz 1956; Mintz 1956; Obermiller and Bitner 1984).

Kaplan (1987) concluded that preference for or liking of a particular environment can be predicted by three environmental dimensions: complexity, mystery, and coherence

Cette influence de l’environnement physique sur les individus est une forme de communication non verbale. Elle peut, ainsi, susciter des réactions émotionnelles qui peuvent être capturé en fonction de 2 dimensions : le plaisir-déplaisir et le degré d’excitation. Ainsi ces rections émotionnelles peuvent influer le comportement des individu. Nous avons également pu voir que des réactions émotionnelles peuvent être transmise à d’autres individus ou a des objets. Enfin, ces réactions peuvent être prédites grâce à 3 variables : la complexité, le mystère et la cohérence.

The perceived servicescape may also affect people in purely physiological ways. Noise that is too loud may cause physical discomfort, the temperature of a room may cause people to shiver or perspire, the air quality may make it difficult to breathe, and the glare of lighting may decrease ability to see and cause physical pain.

A complex mix of environmental features constitute the servicescape and influence internal responses and behaviors. Specifically, the dimensions of the physical surroundings include all of the objective physical factors that can be controlled by the firm to enhance (or constrain) employee and customer actions.

Many items in the physical environment serve as explicit or implicit signals that communicate about the place to its users (Becker 1977, 1981; Davis 1984; Wener 1985; Wineman 1982). Signs displayed on the exterior and interior of a structure are examples of explicit communicators

Signs have even been found to reduce perceived crowding and stress in a jail lobby setting (Wener and Kaminoff 1982).

Other environmental objects may communicate less directly than signs, giving implicit cues to users about the meaning of the place and norms and expectations for behavior in the place. Quality of materials used in construction, artwork, presence of certificates and Photographs on walls, floor coverings, and personal Objects displayed in the environment can all communicate symbolic meaning and create an overall aesthetic impression.

Le Servicescape est un concept, développé par Booms et Bitner, qui montre l’impact de l’environnement physique dans lequel un processus de service a lieu. Booms and Bitner definissent le servicescape comme “the environment in which the service is assembled and in which the seller and customer interact, combined with tangible commodities that facilitate performance or communication of the service” (Booms and Bitner, 1981, p. 36). Les preuves physiques peuvent être en extérieures (paysage, conception extérieure, signalisation, parking, environnement environnant) mais aussi en intérieures (conception et décoration intérieures, équipement, signalisation, aménagement, qualité de l’air, température et ambiance)

Le Servicescape peut affecter un individu du manière physiologie (un bruit qui l’irrite, une odeur qui lui donne la nausée…).

Des éléments de l’environnement physique/ servicescape  sont des signes qui serve de communication pour les individus. Par exemple : le symbole toilette dans un lieux public ou la direction à prendre pour aller vers la salle de fitness. Ces signaux vont impacter l’expérience clients s’il sont mal positionner ou mal compris par l’individu. De plus, ces éléments peuvent faire ressentir à l’individu quel est la qualité du service qu’il va recevoir.  

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