Posted: February 20th, 2021

Service marketing | Marketing homework help

It was mid-morning on August 10, 2015. Courtney Bayer, a recent college graduate with a life- long passion for interior design, was managing her new boss’ social media. Bayer spent what felt like a long summer working as an assistant to Kelly Daniels, the owner of Elevate Home Staging. This small business specialized in redecorating homes to sell quickly and for top dollar. It accumulated a number of glowing online reviews and was featured on a Home and Garden Television (HGTV) show. Despite these successes, Bayer had sensed some frustration from customers. A visibly angry customer named Annie Masters stormed into the office and said, “Is Kelly here? Once again, she’s not responding to me.” Although Bayer’s authority was limited, she needed to salvage Masters’ service experience and prove her value to Daniels if she wanted this summer job to turn into a full-time position.

Bayer’s thoughts immediately went to the text messages she recently exchanged with Masters. Had she followed through on her promises to Masters? (Please see Exhibit 1 for the text messages between the two women.) Daniels was on a last-minute family vacation to the mountains and would not be back in the office for another week, so Bayer was left to manage a number of projects. Bayer wanted to rectify the situation as best as she could and asked Masters if she could help with anything else. Masters’ was obviously agitated, but explained,

I called Kelly in May because we wanted to get our house ready to sell before school started in August. Basically, all I needed was some help arranging my living room furniture and hanging pictures. Thanks to Kelly’s vision and charm, a small job soon became a big job that included staging the entire house as well as redecorating the master suite, office, playroom, and back porch.

Masters handed Bayer a copy of her contract. As Bayer glanced over the document, she was surprised to see that Masters agreed to pay Elevate Home Staging $75 per hour for an estimated 20 hours of work. The project would cost $1500, which was well above the median amount of $675 that was spent on home staging in 2015. Masters continued,

My biggest mistake was giving Kelly a $500 service retainer and a $400 deposit for furnishings. After that, she seemed to lose interest in my project. It often took her days to respond to my text messages. A few times, she told me she’d call me, but she never did. That’s when I started texting you. I didn’t want to be rude, but I needed somebody to respond!

There was ALWAYS a dramatic excuse for her lack of availability, though. In the last two months, she has moved or cancelled appointments because of church camp, illness, injury, a missing family member, a robbery, and the Little League playoffs. One or two of these excuses is understandable, but it’s always something new and the work never gets done.

I swear, I didn’t see her for weeks at a time, which left my family living in a dishevelled mess. Not only that, but she didn’t deliver ONE of the many contractors that she promised to provide. I wasted a lot of my vacation finding a painter, furniture repairman, and upholsterer. So far, I have paid $900 for Kelly to set up a Pinterest board, arrange my living room furniture, hang some pictures, pick a terrible paint colour, buy a curtain rod, and deliver a table. That’s all she’s done!

She’s about to miss her final deadline and she hasn’t responded to my texts, emails, or voice messages about setting up an appointment with a picture hanger in over two weeks. I can’t wait to hear her excuse this time.

Bayer was in a difficult position. She knew that Daniels was stretched thin as a mother of five who was running her own business. However, she could understand Masters’ frustration and did not want to lose her as a customer. In home staging, like many small businesses, service providers rely on word of mouth. An upset customer, like Masters, could have a negative effect on future business. Bayer wanted to resolve Masters’ frustrations, but she did not want to say anything that would make her boss look bad. She wanted Daniel to make her a full-time job offer! After all, Bayer had turned down a lucrative managerial position in retail to pursue her dream of working in design. She knew this summer position was a gamble, but she hoped it would be her opportunity to break into the exclusive design industry. Bayer said, “Daniels had to go out of town, but I’ll do my best to track her down. I’ll ask her to contact you and let you know when you can expect the picture hanger.”

As Masters left Elevate Home Staging, Bayer thought back to her services marketing class. She wondered what Elevate Home Staging should have done differently to ensure Masters’ satisfaction? Also, how could Bayer now help Masters without making her boss look bad?

Exhibit 1: Text messages between Annie Masters and Courtney Bayer

TO: Courtney Bayer

FROM: Annie Masters

Date: 08/02/2015 10:55:14 AM

Hi! This is Annie. Have you heard anything from Kelly about when you and the heavy picture hanger will be working at my house this week? She was supposed to set up a date, but I haven’t heard from her in over a week. Her texts are often iffy, so I was hoping you could give me some information. Please let me know ASAP because I have work obligations this week, too. Thanks.

TO: Annie Masters

FROM: Courtney Bayer

Date: 08/03/2015 11:49:32 AM

Hi Annie! I will check with her and let you know as soon as I hear anything!

TO: Courtney Bayer

FROM: Annie Masters

Date: 08/03/2015 11:50:18 AM

Thank you! Really appreciate any communication!

TO: Annie Masters

FROM: Courtney Bayer

Date 08/03/2015 11:51:24 AM

No problem! I just text her and will let you know when she replies!

TO: Annie Masters

FROM: Courtney Bayer

Date: 08/04/2015 09:16:34 AM

Good morning Annie! Just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you. Kelly said she was trying to get a hold of Javier yesterday. I just texted her again this morning and am waiting on a response. When do you have to work this week?

TO: Courtney Bayer

FROM: Annie Masters

Date: 08/04/2015 09:20:20 AM

Thank you! Really appreciate the follow-up. I’m working all day Thursday, so tomorrow or Friday would be okay. Thanks again!

TO: Annie Masters

FROM: Courtney Bayer

Date: 08/04/2015 09:21:52 AM

Ok perfect I will let her know. I’m sorry about the delay. I just don’t have anyone’s contact info except for hers! When does school start back up?

TO: Courtney Bayer

FROM: Annie Masters

Date: 08/04/2015 09:27:52 AM

Thanks for saying that. It helps! School in-service starts on the 14th, so that’s the FINAL deadline. Where did the summer go?

TO: Annie Masters

FROM: Courtney Bayer

Date: 08/04/2015 09:32:33 AM

I know I feel the same way! It’s like it didn’t even happen! Ok well I will keep you informed. I wish I could do more, but I will do my best to figure out a plan.

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