Generally, financial services refer to services provided by the finance industry either public or private finance industry. Financial services defined as services that related to facilities such as saving accounts, checking accounts, leasing, loans and money transfer provided by banks, credit unions and finance companies.1 Flower of service is a visual framework for understanding the supplementary service elements that surround and add value to the core product. Flower of service is introduced by Christopher Lovelock that distinguishes between facilitating and enhancing supplementary services. These different supplementary services can be classified into eight petals. The core service is the reason why service provider exists in the market.
However, in order to create value to customer, additional services are required. These services known as supplementary services. It is crucial for the service provider to realize that if the supplementary services are not sufficiently provided, the core benefit of the services cannot be consumed fully. According to the flower of service there are two kinds of supplementary services which are facilitating supplementary services and enhancing supplementary services Facilitating supplementary services are either needed in service delivery or help in the use of core product (Lovelock et al, 2012).
Basically, facilitating elements is a must have or compulsory for the service provider to provide in order to be able to deliver their services.
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The elements under facilitating supplementary services are information, order-taking, billing and payment (Lovelock et al, 2012).
On the other hand, enhancing elements add extra value to the customer. Enhancing elements is differing from its counterparts as it is not compulsory for the service provider to provide. A firm needs to have enhancing elements to create value added to the customer. This is due to the fact that value added is important for a service provider firm to gain competitive advantage and also to differentiate them form their competitors. The elements under enhancing supplementary services are safekeeping, exceptions, consultation and hospitality (Lovelock et al, 2012).
According to Robert (1998), information is a knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular facts or circumstances. In the business perspectives, information act as a facilitating element that helps the customers to get clear picture about an organization, its service or products offered and any other information that will facilitate the services process between the customers and the organization. Customers always hunger for a details information before purchasing or consuming something. Detailed and updated information is important whereby it influence the customers’ decisions either to consume the service offered or not. For instance, customers require detail information about the services offered, service hours, prices, notifications of changes and availability of the services.2 There are various medium that can be used by the organization in order to spread the information to the customers. It can be through website, call service, various advertisements such as newspaper and television.
Based on our study in MARA, they have provided lots of information about the services offered at their official website which include updated and detail information on entrepreneurship, education, and others.3 Besides, MARA had succeeded establishing for network users. was introduced in October 6, 2013 by Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development purposely to provide an approach to the public about the activities conducted by MARA especially in entrepreneurship activities and to keep ensure that the public have the opportunity to keep abreast closer to MARA.4 MARA also has make other effort in spreading their information when they provide an advertisement to the local newspaper regarding any current news related to MARA activities for instance when there are any updated and current news related to the scholarship or education loans.
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This facilitate the people especially students who are not aware and not capable to read about the news established in the websites. However, not all information is helpful. There are several quality required for a good information which include relevant, up- to-date, accurate, meet the need of the user, easy to use and understand, worth of cost and lastly, reliable. Information should be timely and free from errors. It also should be clearly presented, worthwhile and most importantly comes from authoritative sources.5 Based on our observation, MARA has practices these qualities when they always ensure that information provided is worth able for the people. MARA also ensures their website is applicable to the customers 24 hours a day and always updated current information and any latest news. ORDER TAKING
In a flower of service concept, Order taking is categorize under facilitating service. We already knew that Facilitating service means a service required for service delivery. This should be clear that order taking is the crucial service delivery or we can say that it helps in the use of the core product. Order taking generally is defines as an activity which a person take order or request something from another person. There are generally 3 elements of order taking. The 3 elements are: – applications, order entry and reservation and check-in. the first element is applications. Application element here means what kind of order taking service we have in the aspect of application. For example, in terms of application to be a membership in the club or to subscribe certain service (subscribe iron utility in a hotel).
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The second element is order entry. Order entry means on what way the customer can make an order. For example, the customer can make an order through online, telephone and others.
The third element is reservation and check in. For example, is there such service like appointments or reservation of place to make the customer feel secure that they can get the service? Why order taking is list in a facilitating service? Many goods or services must be ordered or reserved in advance. This is to make sure that there is no misunderstanding and to confirm the request of the customer. For example, in a restaurant, the waiter will go to customers and take order. This is to know what the customers want and to make sure they can fulfill the customer request. With order taking, customers also will know what is available and they may want to secure commitment delivery. The process will more be fast and smooth. In MARA, the 3 elements of order taking exist. In term of application, Mara does provide financial credit such as for entrepreneurship, education and even for investment. Whereas, in term of order exist, such financial credit can be made through online, telephone and even present at the place. As for reservation and check-in elements, they do have professional appointment for consultation service. BILLING
As a service provider, we might charge the customers for the service that we had delivered or going to deliver. The charges for every service usually differ from each other. The customer may be requested or need more than one service in one time. As for this, we must provide the customer with a statement of bills to make them clear about the amount charged to them. From this statement, we can understand that “billing is a statement of amount charged to the customers for services that they get from the service provider”. Does billing important? Why does billing is categorized under the facilitating elements? Billing is important as it is required for the service delivery. Without billing, how the customers are supposed to pay the services that are provided to them? As a service provider, we cannot simply charge the customers. We need a standard pricing in order to make sure that the customers are not being over charged. Now that we had known the meaning of billing and the importance of it, we should also know the best features of a good billing.
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A good billing should be clear, accurate and east to be understood by the customers. For example, when the customer wants to get a service, they will always want to know the amount that is charged to them. If let say, they get more than 1 services, of course they want to know every price of the services they consumed. This is to make them feel satisfied and informed of the type of services that they get. In MARA, Skim SPPP (Skim Pembiayaan Peningkatan Perniagaan), MARA will state the amount that the borrowers need to pay for every term. For example, in the early 4 years, the borrowers only need to pay 5% of the amount due. The amount will increase I the next term. Besides, MARA also provides statement of bills for the payment that had been made by the borrowers. For example, after the borrower had made a payment, the amount paid and the balance due will be stated in the statement. PAYMENT
There are four (4) facilitating elements in the flower of service. Payment is one of them. Payment is the process or action of paying someone or something. Facilitating elements are the supplementary services that aid or help in the use of the core products or are required for service delivery. It is necessary to has facilitating element as it will give or meet customer satisfied with the service provided. For payment, the organization needs to have an easy way for the customer to pay their loan. Customer will feel satisfied if the organization provides for them the convenient and practical ways for them to pay the loan. Once the organization makes an easy way for the customer they will give a good impression to the organization. They will not hesitate to pay back their entire loan towards the organization.
The example of financial institution that we choose is Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), as we all know MARA provides loan to those who have not have enough money to open business or further studies. Based on the new technology, in April 2005, MARA has provided the e-Bayar facilities for the customers who want to pay back their loans via electronic such as internet banking, ATM machine, mobile 3G and SMS.6 With the existence of these service facilities especially internet banking make all the transaction that the customer want to do easier and less time consuming. They do not have to come to the counter of service to pay their loan. They just need to have internet connection and can pay the loan wherever they go at anytime they want.
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By having this kind of service, MARA can achieve their customer satisfaction. Besides, MARA’s customer also can pay their loan at the post office counter. MARA provides all these services to ensure that their customer can pay their loan in the easy way without waiting too long to pay their loan at the MARA counter. With all kind of services it can be conclude that MARA always find ways to make their customer comfortable with their service and will ensure that the service convenient and applicable to be use by all. ENHANCING ELEMENTS:
Generally, exception is defined as a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule.7 In services, exception is one of the elements that act as enhancing supplementary services to a firm. Based on a Flower of Service, enhancing supplementary services is said to add extra value for customers when they consume services offered by a firm. Exception in Flower of Service is a supplementary service that fall outside the routine of normal service delivery. It can be said as flexibility in business because when something goes wrong during the services process between the customers and the service providers, the customers will expect some flexibility in the services when they make special request to the firm. There are four types of exception in the enhancing supplementary services. Firstly, is special request which focuses on the request made by the customers such as special request on religious observance. Secondly, problem solving such as difficulties that arises during the services process, Thirdly is the complaints or suggestions which include any complaints, compliments and suggestions made by the customers.
Lastly is the restitution. 8Restitution, in its simplest sense, is making good, or setting something right. Restitution is the act of restoring to the rightful owner something that which was taken from someone. In the services, restitution includes giving refund or compensation to people involved.9 Based on our study in MARA which also provides education loans and sponsorship, they have provided an exception to the students who succeed in their Bachelor of Degree to pay lower than the amount of the loans. Other than that, MARA also provide exclusion of education loan repayment for students who working with MARA, it subsidiaries and piercings. In terms of handling special communications such as complaints and suggestions, MARA has provides ‘e- aduan’ services at their official websites which purposely to give opportunities to the people to voice out any dissatisfaction either suggestions towards services provided by MARA and their level of performance.10 CONSULTATION
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Next enhancing services were the consultation services. Consultation generally defined as the act of discussing something with somebody or with a group of people before a making decision (Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary).
Consultation consists of advice from a knowledgeable service person in response to the request. For instance, the customer might ask about opinion of the employees about the suitable service or products for them. The effective consultation requires an understanding of each customer’s current situation before suggesting a suitable course of action (Wirtz, J., Chew, P., & Lovelock, C., 2012).
There were several examples of consultation that can be used by the service provider in enhancing their service delivery such as customized advise, personal counseling, tutorials or training in product use and management or technical consulting.
Consultation with the customer can help the organization to continuous organization improvement, assessing customer needs, fosters ownership and better mutual understanding and also illustrate that the organization are committed on serving customer with quality service.11 The Council of Trust for Indigenous People or in Malay, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), also provides consultation services for the customers. The consultation services known as Business Advisory Services Programme Scheme. The aim for these services was to help in solving problems or improve the performance and productivity of the entrepreneur or company through quality and effective advice. The consultation services were operated by MARA facilitator panel. Its also act as a one-stop center that has a variety of skills in the areas of advisory services to be offered to Bumiputera’s entrepreneurs. The scheme also focuses on private or partnership business, private limited company and operating indigenous cooperatives. There were several scopes of activities under this scheme such as Business Coaching, business diagnostics and management and development.12
Hospitality can be defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers (Oxford dictionaries).
According to Brotherton and Wood (2000) offer a definition of hospitality as a contemporaneous human exchange, which is voluntarily entered into, and designed to enhance the mutual well-being of the parties concerned through the provision of accommodation, food or drink (Hemmington, 2007).
Basically, hospitality is one of the marketing strategies that service provider can employed. This is because customer invest and sacrificed their time, energy and effort to go to the firm to get the services needed, thus customer deserve to be treated well and warmly greet. Hospitality is a people-processing service as it involves the tangible action to customer and customer need to be present throughout the service delivery in order to receive the desired benefit (Oduori, 2010).
According to Lovelock et al (2012), the quality of hospitality services offered by a firm can increase or decrease customer satisfaction with the core product. This is especially true for people-processing services, where it needs the active involvement of both service provider and customer. The service provider need to warmly greet and welcome the customer cheerfully by saying “Hello” and “ Thank you” to win the customer heart. Hospitality is closely related to the concept of “experience”. For example, the hospitality consists of organization that offers customer food, drink, waiting facilities, toilets and washrooms, magazine and others (Mayer, 2011).
Hospitality indicates a social interaction between service provider and customer, thus friendliness of receptionist and welcome customer with smile and greetings is crucial13. This is because the success or failure of the guest experience may depend on every single moment of truth (Mayer, 2011).
By applying the principles of hospitality to our case study which is Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA).
MARA building located at Jalan Raja Laut provides “surau” at level two and cafeteria with varieties of food at ground floor. Besides that, this buiding also provides ATM machine such as Bank Islam and Bank Rakyat. SAFEKEEPING
Safekeeping is refers to re-assurance and peace-of-mind for the customers. This means that MARA will keep the people who have financial loan for entrepreneurship, education and investment with them are always have assurance in where never they go. MARA use Islamic financial method to finance the entire loan given to the customers. Al Bai- Bithaman Ajil means sales with deferred price, Al-Murabahah means sales with profit fare, Al- Ijarah means lease or rental, Bai Al- Inah means selling an item at deferred price to the customer and Musyarakah Mutanaqisah means partnership. With the Islamic method it will enhance the Bumiputera peace-of- minds to have loans with MARA. This is some way they can have any issues or problems dealt with minimizes the risk.
The people also need the transaction must be easy to do and make them feel good. The method to apply MARA loan is very easy, the applicant can go to MARA district or state office nearest to the applicant and bring their Business Financing Application Form. Personal Information Form. Guarantee Form / Collateral Form. Loan Application Checklist. For Example MARA office in Malacca is in Jalan Hang Tuah. Besides that, MARA also provide to all the applicant to pay to bank that they are preferred the list are Bank Islam, Maybank, CIMB, Bank Rakyat, AmBank, Public Bank, RHB, AFFIN BANK, Bank Simpanan Nasional and Pos Malaysia.
As a conclusion flower of service is a visual framework for understanding the supplementary service elements that surround and add value to the product core. MARA has already offered a good service to the customers at present. The customers hoped that good service quality can be maintained and strengthen their customers relationships. The elements for facilitating are information, order-taking, billing and payment whereas the enhancing elements are consultation, hospitality, safekeeping and exception. MARA uses this to require an understanding of how the core and supplementary services are combined to create a service offering that meet the needs of target customers. MARA is the well known organization because of that they need to have a very good service to exceeding people expectation. They also keep positioning strategy to determine which services that should be included. It is also can be serve as a checklist in the continuing search for new ways to enhance their organization to be more trusted organization in Malaysia.
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