ETHICS IN SERVICES MARKETING
- Prof. Navin Mathur
Deptt. of Business Administratio
University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
1. Meaning of Ethics:

In common parlance, ethics refer to a system of accepted beliefs based on morals that control behaviour. Thus, business ethics are generally construed as rules, standards or principles that provide guidelines for morally appropriate behaviour for businesses. However, ethics is concerned with clarifying what constitutes human welfare and the kind of conduct necessary to promote it. Ethical issues emerge when our perceptions of what constitutes human welfare requires clarifications to a moral dilemma. Thus, ethics involves judging human ends and controlling means to achieve these ends.

Human goal is to ensure human perfection of the human being as a person. Ethics is concerned with sharpening our knowledge about the work practices affecting the dignity of the individual human being. Ethics in business is concerned with the relationship of business goals and techniques to human ends. Business ethics studies the impact of the business activities on the good of the individual, the firm, the business community and the society as a whole.

2. Ethics in Service Sector in India
Based on this philosophy of ethics, many service providers have developed code of conduct for their businesses, profession and marketing activities . Through the code of conduct they have endeavored to inculcate ethical values and achieve the human goal Some examples are noted below:

(1) Code of Medical Council of India
The code of conduct for medical practitioners suggested by the Medical Council (MCI) of India says:

‘‘The prime object of the medical profession is to render service to humanity; reward or financial gain is a subordinate consideration. Who-so-ever chooses this profession, assumes the obligation to conduct himself in accordance with its ideals. A physician should be an upright man, instructed in the art of healings. He shall keep himself pure in character and be diligent in caring for the sick; he should be modest, sober, patient, prompt in discharging his duty without anxiety; conducting himself with propriety in his profession and in all the actions of his life.’’

"The honoured ideals of the medical profession imply that the responsibilities of the physician extend not only to individuals but also to society."
‘‘Physicians, as good citizens, possessed of special training should disseminate advice on public health issues. They should play their part in enforcing the laws of the community and in sustaining the institutions that advance the interests of humanity. They should particularly co-operate with the authorities in the administration of sanitary/public health laws and regulations.’’

Further, soliciting of patients through advertising by medical practitioners is prohibited except when announcement is made in press for starting practice, for change of address and such other purposes.
The medical practitioners are required to give following declaration for registration in the MCI :
(i) I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to service of humanity.
(ii) Even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of Humanity.
(iii) I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.
(iv) I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.
(v) I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity.
(vi) The health of my patient will be my first consideration.
(vii) I will respect the secrets which are confined in me.
(viii) I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due.
(ix) I will maintain by all means in my power, the honour and noble traditions of medical profession.
(x) I will treat my colleagues with all respect and dignity.
(xi) I shall abide by the code of medical ethics as enunciated in the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations 2001.

(2) Code of conduct prescribed by the Bar Council of India

The Millennium Pledge by Bar Council Members says:
"While entering the new millennium, the bar council of India sharing vision for a better world, re-dedicates itself to strive for maintenance of highest standards of professional ethics, advancement of legal profession and service to humanity."

It is against an advocate’s code of ethics to solicit or advertise work, and advertising amounts to a misconduct on the part of the advocate. An advocate owes allegiance to a higher cause - that of truth and justice. He must not consciously miss-state the facts or knowingly conceals the truth.

(3) Fair Practice Code of Indian Banks Association (IBA)
The IBA has provided some guidelines in respect of credit cards. It says—
‘‘Our key commitments to you. We promise to -
(i) Act fairly and reasonably in all our dealings with you by:
• Meeting the commitments and standards in this Code, for the products and services we offer, and in the procedures and practices our staff follow.
• Making sure our products and services meet relevant laws and regulations.
• Our dealings with you will rest on ethical principles of integrity and transparency.
(ii) Help you to understand how our product work by:
• Explaining their financial implications and
(iii) Deal quickly and sympathetically with things that go wrong by:
• Correcting mistakes quickly
• Handling your complaints quickly
• Telling you how to take your complaint forward if you are still not satisfied
(iv) Publicize this Code, put it on our website and have copies available for you on request.

Terms and Conditions
(i)   ‘‘When you become a customer or accept a product for the first time, we will give you the relevant terms and conditions for the service you have asked us to provide.
(ii) All written terms and conditions will be fair and will set out your rights and responsibilities clearly and in plain language. We will only use legal or technical language where necessary.
(iii) Changes to terms and conditions will be notified to you from time to time.
(iv) Normally, changes [other than interest rates] will be made with prospective effect giving notice of at least one month.’’
Advertising And Marketing
(i) ‘‘We will make sure that all advertising and promotional material is clear, fair, reasonable and not misleading.’’
Tele-Calling
All Sales Executives will follow the following rules when tele-calling—
(i) Mention the following - The name of the person making the call, the name of the organisation on whose behalf the call is being made, the purpose of the call – being the offer or promotion of financial services, including the specific nature of those services e.g., credit card.
(ii)      Request permission to proceed.
(iii)     If denied permission, apologize and politely disconnect.
(iv)    Ensure we ask the prospect if we can call back if the prospect appears to have been interrupted at an inconvenient time, and inquire, as to when a more appropriate time would be.
(v)        If calling on mobile no, offer to call back on a landline no.
(vi)       Never interrupt or argue; talk firmly and politely. Do not engage in harassing/abusive conduct.
(vii)      To the extent possible, talk in the language which is most comfortable to the prospect.
(viii)      Explain features about the SBI card patiently and correctly. Clarify doubts about the product as far as possible; without misleading or giving wrong information about the product. Do not make any false/ unauthorized commitment on behalf of SBICPSL for any facility. In case the prospect desires additional information, ask the Team Leader to provide the same.
(ix)       Never call or entertain calls from customers regarding products already sold. Advise them to contact the Customer Service Staff of SBICPSL.
(x)        Ensure we provide the customer with a clear opportunity to accept or decline the offer.
(xi)       Reconfirm next call or next visit details.
(xii)      Provide his telephone no, the team leader’s name and other contact details if asked for by the prospect.
(xiii) Thank the customer for his/her time.
Sales Calls
            The Sales Executive will —
(i)         Respect personal space – maintain adequate physical distance from the prospect.
(ii)        Not enter the prospect’s residence/office against his/her wishes.
(iii)       Not visit in large numbers – i.e. not more than one SE and one team leader/trainer, if required.
(iv)       If the prospect is not present and only family members/office persons are present at the time of the visit, he/she should end the visit with a request to come back at time the prospect is present.
(v)        Provide his/her telephone no, the team leader’s name and other contact details if asked for by the prospect
(vi)       Limit discussions with the prospect to the business – Maintain a professional distance.
(vii)      Not misbehave in any manner; respect the prospects time and space
(viii)      Will not accept gifts from prospects or bribes of any kind. Any bribe or payment offered of any kind by a customer must be reported to his/her management.
(ix)       Will be formally dressed. He/She will wear clothes that are appropriate and will have well groomed appearance.
(4) Tata code of conduct
 Tata companies are also engaged in the service sector (telecommunication, insurance, etc.) The Tata code of conduct says :
 ‘‘A Tata company shall be committed in all its actions to benefit the economic development of the countries in which it operates. It shall not engage in any activity that adversely affects such an objective. It shall not undertake any project or activity to the detriment of the nation's interests, or those that will have any adverse impact on the social and cultural life patterns of its citizens. A Tata company shall conduct its business affairs in accordance with the economic, development and foreign policies, objectives and priorities of the nation's government, and shall strive to make a positive contribution to the achievement of such goals at the international, national and regional level, as appropriate.’’
‘‘A Tata company shall market its products and services on its own merits and shall not make unfair and misleading statements about competitors' products and services. Any collection of competitive information shall be made only in the normal course of business and shall be obtained only through legally permitted sources and means.’’
‘‘A Tata company shall strive to provide a safe and healthy working environment . . . prevent the wasteful use of natural resources ..... improve the quality of the life of the people.’’ Further every employee shall deal with professionalism , honesty and integrity as well as high moral and ethical standards .           
(5) Code of Conduct of Jet Airways
In carrying out their duties and responsibilities, employees and directors are prohibited from:
(i)   appropriating corporate business opportunities for themselves that are discovered through the use of Company resources or information or their position as directors or employees;
(ii) using Company resources or information, or their position as directors or employees, for personal gain; and
(iii) competing with the Company, directly or indirectly.
Fair Dealing
In carrying out their duties and responsibilities, employees and directors should endeavor to deal fairly, and should promote fair dealing by the Company, its employees and agents, with customers, suppliers and competitors. No employee or director should seek to take unfair advantage of anyone (including the Company) through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts or any other unfair dealing practice.
Further, the code says that in carrying out their duties and responsibilities, directors and employees must amply with applicable laws, rules and regulations.

(6) Code for Chartered Accountants
Some of the acts and omissions which constitute professional misconduct in the code  for Chartered Accountants are as under:-
(i) Soliciting clients for professional work either directly or indirectly.
(ii) Advertising his professional attainments or services
(iii) Charging fee based on percentage of profit or which are contingent on the findings or results of such employment.
(iv) Accepting a position as auditor in such conditions to constitute undercutting.
 The code aims at ensuring professional independence and integrity.

(7) Code of the Institute of Company Secretaries in India
Mission Statement
‘‘To continuously develop high caliber professionals ensuring good corporate governance and effective management and to carry out proactive research and development activities for protection of interest of all stakeholders, thus contributing to public good.’’

 According to the code, the members of the council of ICSI
(i)         must respect and comply with laws, rules and regulations
(ii)        not engage in manipulation, abuse of privileged information
(iii)       not accept gifts from persons doing business with the Institute
(iv)       not exploit opportunities for personal gain through the use of Institute’s   properties
(v)        maintain confidentiality of information
(vi)       not engage in sexual harassment
(vii)      encourage ethical culture in the Institute

(8) Code of Conduct of the Bank of Maharasthra
The code envisages and expects –
(i)      Adherence to the highest standards of honest and ethical conduct, including proper and  ethical procedures in dealing with actual or apparent conflicts of interest between personal and professional relationships.
(ii)      Full, fair, accurate, sensible, timely and meaningful disclosures in the periodic reports required to be filed by the Bank with Government and regulatory agencies.
(iii)     Compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations.
(iv)     To redress misuse or misapplication of the Bank’s assets and resources.
(v)     The highest level of confidentiality and fair dealing within and outside the Bank.

(9) Code of conduct of Geojit Financial Services
‘‘We believe that sound corporate governance is critical to enhance and retain investor trust. Accordingly, we always seek to attain our performance rules with integrity. The Board extends its fiduciary responsibilities in the widest sense of the term. Our disclosures always seek to attain the best practices in international corporate governance. We are also responsible to enhance long term shareholder value and respect minority rights in all our business decisions.’’
  ‘‘We expect all officers to act in accordance with highest standards of personal and professional integrity, honesty and ethical conduct.’’
  ‘‘Officers must comply with government laws, rules and regulations.’’

(10) Code of conduct for Tourism suggested by WTO
With its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, the UNWTO plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, with the aim of contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms. In pursuing this aim, the Organization pays particular attention to the interests of developing countries in the field of tourism.
Global Code of Ethics for Tourism :
(i)         Tourism's contribution to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies.
(ii)        Tourism as a vehicle for individual and collective fulfillment.
(iii)       Tourism, a factor of sustainable development.
(iv)       Tourism, a user of the cultural heritage of mankind and contributor to its enhancement.
(v)      Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities.
(vi)      Obligations of stakeholders in tourism development.
(vii)     Right to tourism.
(viii)     Liberty of tourist movements.
(ix)      Rights of the workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry.
(x)      Implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

3. Implementation of the code

It is thus evident that many service providers have made an effort to inculcate ethical values by developing code of conduct for their businesses and marketing activities. However, an analysis of the marketing services provided by the service providers reveals a dismal and disappointing picture. Quite often, there is breach of code of conduct and use of unethical means in marketing of services. While some improvement can be noticed in the quality of services in sectors like telecommunication, banks, insurance, hospitals, transport, etc, the fact remains that many services are defective and disappointing inspite of competition as a sequel of LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation.) In practice, ethical values are almost missing in the service sector. There is little consideration of human welfare in the marketing of services. It is all business and profiteering.
(i) Doctors often resort to unnecessary hospitalisation, tests, drugs and surgery. Advertising by doctors is also not uncommon.
(ii) Advocates mis-state the facts and conceal the truth. Service to humanity is secondary to them. They charge high fees and still prefer to defer the cases to the disadvantage of clients.
(iii) Credit card agents use unethical means to create customers. They also conceal vital information.
(iv) Chartered Accountants use all possible wrong means to settle tax matters and in auditing accounts.
(v) Financial consultants are charged with misguiding investors. As a matter of fact, unethical behaviour of financial consultants was a major reason of enactment of SEBI Act in 1992.
(vi)  Misleading advertising by bankers, insurance companies, educational institutions, travel and tour operators is also disheartening.
(vii)  There is use of aggressive marketing  techniques by insurance and bank agents particularly by those of the private owned insurance and bank companies. Undoubtedly, this irritates the customers.
(viii)  The use of tele calling is quite common which customers don’t appreciate because of busy schedule in work and life.
(ix)  Complaints against railway employees, staff of airlines and private and public bus operators is very common.
(x)  Tourists, especially foreign tourists, are many a times cheated and ill-treated by tour and travel agents and the hotel staff.
(xii) The hidden costs and service charges are often concealed by bankers.   
Thus, while code prescribed by service providers stress humanity, human welfare, social good, integrity and honesty, in practice we find that in marketing their services, the service providers often resort to unethical means.

4. Ethical Orientation in Services Marketing
It is pertinent to note that ethical issues become more relevant in the service sector as the customers generally find it difficult to evaluate services, especially when there are very little tangible clues. Thus, evaluation of service performances, both before and after purchase, may entail disappointment. Services like holiday entertainment, sporting events, restaurants, haircut are high in experience attributes and can't be evaluated prior to service and customers must experience the service to know what they are getting. In many services ,  high in credence, customers find it difficult to evaluate confidently even after the service has been purchased  and consumed, such as in the case of education, legal services, complex surgery and  computer repair.

(1) Societal Marketing Concept
While marketing strategies (like advertising, providing some tangible clues to customers, display of degrees by lawyers, doctors and other professionals, dress and behaviour of employees, appearance of furnishings, equipments and facilities, etc.) may be used to face this challenge, ethics play an important role in such a situation. Marketing men should not take undue advantage of this situation of the customer. Undoubtedly, from social and human points of view, there exists a relationship of mutual trust, confidence and goodwill between the service provider and the service recipient. There is a need of providing efficient services to the full satisfaction of the customers. This is also important for customer retention and loyalty. It is worthwhile to mention that the service providers must apply the societal marketing concept which requires a balance between three considerations—profits, want satisfaction and society's interest(human welfare).

(2) Ethics in Advertising
It may be added that as customers find it difficult to evaluate services they become more dependent on marketing communication for information and advice. Thus, arises the need for ethics in advertising by service providers.
Advertising ethics require that (a) advertising is truthful, (b) agencies and advertisers provide substantiation of claims made, (c) advertising is in good taste, and the generally accepted standards of public decency are followed, (d) advertisers refrain from attacking competitors unfairly, (e) guarantees and warranties are explicit, (f) advertisements are not false or misleading, (g) claims are not exaggerated, and that (h) testimonials are genuine.

It is pertinent to define what "Good Advertising" is. According to the Advertising Federation of America,
 
(i)  Good advertising aims to inform the consumer and help him to buy more intelligently.
(ii) Good advertising tells the truth, avoids mis-statement of facts as well as possible deception through implication of omission. It makes no claims which cannot be met in full and without further qualification. It uses testimonials of competent witnesses.
(iii) Good advertising conforms to the generally accepted standards of good taste. It seeks public acceptance on the basis of the merits of the product or service advertised rather than by the disparagement of competing goods. It tries to avoid practices that are offensive or annoying.
(iv) Good advertising recognizes both its economic responsibility to help reduce distribution costs and its social responsibility in serving the social interest.

(3) Ethics in Pricing Services
Ethical issues while pricing services also deserve attention. There is no denying the fact that customers often face great difficulty in understanding how much it is going to cost them to use a service. They are not sure in advance what they will get in return for their payments. Quite often, credence services invite performance and pricing abuses. Customers find themselves in a very embarrassing and vulnerable position when they don't know the benefits they get from service supplier, are not present when the work is being performed and lack the technical skills to assess the work done. Moreover, the complexity of pricing schedule also encourage firms to engage in unethical behaviour.
Ethical behaviour requires that there should be fairness in pricing strategy. There is a need of reconciling pricing schedules and management practices with customer satisfaction, trust and goodwill. Thus, the pricing should be  fair, logical and clear .  Service fees and expenses should be spelled out in advance.
(4) Inculcating Human Values
It may be noted that  in services marketing people have a vital role to play. People are the visible face of the service provider. The frontline employee (for example, a receptionist in a hotel) play a crucial role in the service delivery process. The old saying that ‘‘people are your most important asset’’ is wrong. The better philosophy is : ‘‘Right people are your most important asset.’’ Right people are people who have external excellence (through all managerial and leadership qualities, knowledge of marketing strategies and knowledge of material science) as well as internal excellence (knowledge of spiritual values). Thus, for properly  implementing the code of conduct prescribed by service organizations and  for a ethically acceptable behaviour, certain values must be inculcated in the employees. Some values suggested by S. K. Chakravorty deserve attention of marketing men (service providers):
(a) The Individual Must Be respected. (b) Cooperation and Trust. (c) Jealousy Is Harmful For Mental Health: just as cigarette smoking is harmful for physical health. (d) 'Chitta-Shuddhi' or Purification of the Mind. (e) Top-quality Product/Service. (f) Work is Worship. (g) Containment of Greed. (h) Ethic-moral Soundness: To give peace of mind and promotes mental health. (i) Self-discipline and Self-restraint. (j) The Inspiration to Give. (k) Renunciation and Detachment from selfish results./rewards.
What Albert Einstein suggested should not go unheeded: "Try not to be a man of success but rather try to be a man of value." To face the managerial challenges of the twenty first century, Peter Drucker says, more and more people in the work force - and more knowledge workers - will have to manage themselves. He writes: " To be able to manage oneself, one finally has to know : What are my values'? ... To work in an organisation the value system of which is unacceptable to a person, or incompatible with it, condemns the persons to frustration and to non-performance.’’ It is worthwhile to mention that to be effective in an organisation, one's own values must be compatible with the organisation's values. The values of the organisations and those of the people need not be the same but must be close enough so that they can coexist. Otherwise, the person will be frustrated and will not produce results.
There is an oriental saying:
"Where the vision is one year, cultivate flowers.
Where the vision is ten years, cultivate trees.
Where the vision is eternity, cultivate people".
For customer retention and loyalty as well as for successful and socially acceptable marketing, service providers must have this type of vision.

(5) Application of Indian philosophy
The social and human aspect of marketing requires application of the Indian philosophy of "the welfare of the human race." Marketing men normally adopt the  philosophy of occidental countries, that is , "greatest good of the greatest number" .  Philosophy of oriental India goes a step ahead . It emphasises " welfare of human race" .
(6) Relevance of Indian Ethos
There is great possibility of cheating and misguiding recipients of services on account of intangibility of services, difficulties in evaluation of services and understanding of pricing, and greater reliance on employee attitude and behaviour and marketing communications. The solution lies in understanding and applying the principles of Indian ethos. These principles are
(i)         The divine resides in the heart of the person
(ii)        Holistic approach in management
(iii)       Combining subjective and objective
(iv)       Karma yoga
(v)        Co-operation
(7) FTPA Code
Follow Far Trade Practices Association Code and Guidelines of FICCI which prohibit misleading advertising, unfair pricing, etc.
(8) Abide by the Constitution of India and respect it’s ideals.
 The service providers must give a serious thought to the Constitution of India which calls for social and economic justice.
The Preamble to the constitution says:  "WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens.
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.
(9) Philosophy of Tatas be followed
            Humata            -           Good thoughts
            Hukta               -           Good words
Hyarshta           -           Good deeds
(10) Applying Gandhiji's Trusteeship concept.
     Services providers should behave as trustees while providing services.

5. Conclusion:
The service sector is growing tremendously. Services are varied and diverse. Employees of the service providers deliver services. Thus, management of human resources in an important aspect in services marketing. However, management of human resources must be value-based. Evaluation of services is an uphill task for customers. Thus, they rely on marketing communication for information and advice. Customers also don't understand how much it is going to cost them to use a service. Quite often, credence services invite performance and pricing abuses. Service providers like advocates, doctors, chartered accountants, company secretaries, bankers, tour and travel agents, insurance companies and educational institutions are often charged with unethical practices. Thus, there is a need of developing and implementing a value system by the service providers.

A plethora of legislation already exists to ensure social welfare and justice. But, the legal measures cannot being the desired results. The marketing men should realize that as producers, as customers, as distributors, as masses, as resources, human beings are numbers (statistics) but, above all, human being are always human beings. Thus, human element must percolate the marketing area of business. Marketing is a social function, and a social problem whose solution lies in social revolution. The social revolution is possible through change in social conscience. Change in social conscience is possible through making man conscious of the reciprocal benefits and responsibilities.

There is great relevance of spiritual values as highlighted in the Indian scriptures. Service providers must think beyond customer satisfaction and retention. Services marketing activities must be based on philosophy of ethics, which calls for service to humanity. Only then, service marketing activities will be socially and ethically justified.

  Service sector has a vital role in the accomplishment (by 2015)  of the Eight Millennium Development Goals. Services related to health care can help in achieving three such goals—reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat  HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Educational institutions can help achieve two such goals—achieving universal primary education and women education and empowerment. All service organizations can directly or indirectly help in accomplishing goals of eradicating poverty and hunger environmental sustainability and promotion of global  partnership for development. Of course, it is a difficult task and perhaps the greatest challenge before the service sector.

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