Prof. Dr. Gertrud Schmitz | Service Management and Retailing

Personal Details

Professor Gertrud Schmitz (born in 1965) has been a Professor of Service Management and Retailing since 2004, and formerly represented the Chair of Marketing and Marketing Research at the University of Cologne for one year. She holds a degree in Business Administration from the RWTH Aachen, where she also received her Ph.D. in 1996 and completed her post-doctoral teaching qualification in 2002. She gathered work experience in service management in a number of research and consulting projects, and by participating in the implementation of central administration processes at the faculties. Her dissertation was on the marketing of professional services and her postdoctoral thesis dealt with the job satisfaction of exclusive agents focusing on its connection with competitive advantages of insurance firms.


In almost all western economies, the service sector has been expanding over the last several decades. Services are not limited to pure service providers such as banks, hotels or consulting firms. Even non-service firms such as manufacturers and technology companies rely on service-based activities to gain competitive advantages and discover the critical impact of services on their profits. Regarding the economic growth of services and the differences between goods and services, specific service management knowledge is demanded.
Students will learn tools, strategies and approaches for developing and delivering profitable services that can provide competitive advantages to firms, thus preparing for their role as successful and effective service managers. Built upon a strong foundation blending theoretical analysis and its empirical evaluation and application with practical considerations, the curriculum delivers unique knowledge and problem-solving skills sought by firms across all industries, which use service as a basis for their competitive advantage.
Topics include management of trust-based relationships, design and execution of service delivery processes, development and implementation of service orientation among contact employees, service innovation and design, measurement and management of critical outcomes as perceived by service quality or customer satisfaction. Through case studies and (project-oriented) seminars, students can also develop professional skills like presentation techniques, self-directed learning skills and interpersonal skills such as teamwork skills.


Research at the Chair of Service Management and Retailing focuses on delivery and performance services. Attention is given to the employees' and customers' roles in service delivery, with the intention of understanding their perceptions and behaviors. Based on a solid theoretical analysis, hypotheses are developed and evaluated in empirical studies using qualitative and quantitative methods. Current research issues concern the reduction of uncertainty and the development of trust, the dynamics of long term service relationships, service skills and organizational citizenship behavior of contact employees and the service customers’ willingness to pay. Furthermore, the application of existing concepts and approaches to service management problems is explored, and new tools that cover the special requirements of service industries are developed. Current topics include service engineering, service cooperation and marketing strategies for public service sectors.
Furthermore the Chair of Service Management and Retailing encourages the co-operation with companies to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Two selected research issues are the projects "Hypro" and "Hypro Design" which are funded by the BMBF. Both projects deal with customer solutions. A customer solution is an integrated combination of physical products and services customized for a set of customers that creates value beyond the sum of its parts. The intention of "Hypro" is to show small and medium-sized companies how to get competitive advantage with customer solutions instead of selling stand-alone products, more precisely, how to develop a strategic process of change to a supplier of individual customer solutions. Thereby the examination and implementation of individual and organizational service orientation get special attention. Due to the importance of a service-centered view of customer solutions, the project "Hypro design" is concerned with the conceptual design of a successful service-dominant marketing logic for customer solutions in terms of branding, pricing and communication. The subsequent implementation of the concepts by cooperating companies provides their empirical validation.