October 30, 2003

Twelfth Annual Frontiers in Services Conference Attracts Marketing Professionals from 24 Countries

The Twelfth Annual Frontiers in Services Conference attracted 163 marketing professionals and academics from 24 countries to the Washington, D.C., area October 23-26, 2003. The conference was held at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda.

"The Frontiers Conference attracts both business leaders and the leading academic thinkers in service research," according to Roland T. Rust, Ph.D., David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing at the Smith School of Business and director of the school's Center for e-Service. "This year featured a number of papers on the topic of 'Making Service Profitable' with a sub-theme of making strategic trade-offs and large-scale resource allocations involving service. We're thrilled that so many seasoned service professionals have contributed to making this global conference a huge success," added Rust, the conference committee chair. The annual Frontiers in Services Conference convenes marketing faculty, researchers, and practitioners to discuss the latest topics and issues in service research and service practice.

Sponsored by the Smith School's Center for e-Service in conjunction with the American Marketing Association, the first day's keynote presentations featured marketing experts from XM Satellite Radio, Morgan Stanley, Copernicus Marketing Consulting, and the American Customer Service Index. Professors representing top-ranked academic research institutions also participated as guest panel members following each keynote address.

Lee Abrams (right), chief programming officer of XM Satellite Radio, kicked off the conference with a stimulating presentation, "Creative Secrets We Don't Tell the Business Guys," about the burgeoning satellite radio business in the digital 21st century. Illustrating radio's creative culture, he said, "To win clients, chart their age and sophistication. And to get fans and listeners, go beyond the normal channels to get their point of viewthis is vital." Abrams ended his animated presentation, announcing, "Both the business and art sides are critical to radio success, and both cylinders must fire at the same time." And, of course, he embodied both dynamically.

Heather Evans, managing director of Morgan Stanley's institutional marketing division, addressed the attendees on financial management innovation and the consumer's bottom line. Her cogent session, "Using Client Satisfaction to Drive Share-of-Wallet," dispelled the myths of portfolio management marketing and invited portfolio managers to improve the practices and procedures of their business environments. Doing so, Evans concluded, would inevitably increase the "delight" factor, a mathematical measure of very high satisfaction that has been linked to customer retention and word-of-mouth.

Continuing on the satisfaction theme, Kevin Clancy, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Copernicus Marketing Consulting, wasted no time introducing his topic, "Problems in Customer Satisfaction Measurement: Flawed Research Leads to the Wrong Service Strategy." "Most firms achieve only a "C" grade, the average is just 74% satisfaction," he stated. As a result, market shares and campaign profits plunge. "Derived importance measures are problematic," Clancy declared. Commercial market researchers must operate on the inter-related "consumer behavior, loyalty, and customer satisfaction" model the marketing trinity, he urged. Clancy concluded his comments, saying, "Sound customer service management is essential" for proper service marketing research strategy.

Claes Fornell, Ph.D., is the Donald C. Cook Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan Business School and director of the National Quality Research Center. His session, "Loyalty Can Be Bought; Customer Satisfaction Must Be Earned," intrigued the marketing attendees. Having founded the American Customer Service Index in 1994, Fornell dedicates his time to fine-tuning the metrics in the service economy of the digital 21st century. "The best measure of success in the service economy is how economies satisfy their customers," he emphasized. Fornell demonstrated a statistical link between changes in average customer satisfaction and changes in the stock market.

Dozens of additional academic papers were presented on such topics as e-service, customer relationship management, service marketing, service operations, service human resources, and retailing, tourism, and hospitality throughout the weekend. For more information on these presentations, or information about the Center for e-Service (http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/ces), e-mail dhamilton@rhsmith.umd.edu.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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