A customer's ease of contact with and timely access to the service / product supplier is crucial. The highly advanced and reliable communication infrastructure in developed countries presents various alternatives through which the customer / supplier connection is possible. Among these possible alternatives, non-personal contact modes, such as telephone, facsimile, electronic mail, and telex, rank highest in terms of both ease of contact and timely access. Unfortunately, the majority of developing countries are still plagued with limited or unreliable communication networks, thus boosting the relative importance of direct personal contacts between the customer and the service supplier. One of the major determinants of service / product quality is timely and adequate response. Employees should be willing and able to deliver timely and substantive response to enquiries and complaints of customers.
The relative importance of timely versus substantive response differs between developed and developing markets. Such differences arise as a result of the relative value with which time is regarded in each of these markets. Customers of developed countries place a higher value on time compared with those of developing countries. Thus merely responding to a customer's enquiry or satisfactorily resolving a customer's complaint - a goal that is generally regarded as sufficient in its own end in developing countries - tends to fall short of meeting a customer's expectations of quality of service / product in a developed country.
In a developed economy, these tasks should be addressed and resolved swiftly. Possession of the required knowledge and skills to provide the service or produce the product is critical to the success of any company. Reflecting competence of the firm could be centralized on the organization as a whole or on the contact personnel. In developed markets, competence of individual employees is of a relatively higher importance. Such markets place high regard on individual initiative and achievement and are better targeted by emphasizing the unmatched skills of the service personnel. On the other hand, communicating the quality of the service / product with customers in developing countries is better achieved by focusing on the competence of the organization providing the product / service.
Expertise and skills are to be reflected in the organization. Another cultural factor that supports such strategies is power distance. Developed economies are characterized with a small power distance, whereby both superiors and subordinates of an organization regard one another as "people like me". Hierarchy in organizations reflects nothing more than inequality of roles that is established for convenience. Thus employees are generally regarded as competent in their own role or domain. However, developing economies are characterized by a large power distance.
Employees at different levels of the organization are regarded as unequal in roles, power and skills. Since customer satisfaction with the service is largely dependent on his / her interaction with the service provider, the number, appearance, and behavior of employees in the service environment can induce either approach or avoidance behavior. Customers typically do not distinguish between the service and the service provider. Thus service personnel should respect and reflect the customers' cherished values and norms. The difference between marketing services in developed versus developing economies lies in the manifestation of such courtesy. In the collectivist societies of developing countries, service personnel should not only abide by the widely accepted social norms of the community, but also mirror their respect and commitment towards these norms.
By way of contrast, in the individualistic societies of developed economies emphasis of service personnel is placed on reflecting a deep respect and dedication to individual rights, beliefs and privacy.