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Mgw 3352 - Service Operations Management

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MGW 3352 - SERVICE OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT "Increasing customer participation in service delivery should be a major goal for all service operations managers" INTRODUCTION Service delivery is an interactive and dynamic process which involves participation between the service organization, the service provider and the customer. According to Lovelock and Young (1979), customer participation can raise organizational productivity and efficiency and improve service performance. The principle behind this notion is that customers can fulfill some of the employees current functions thereby reducing the service providers perceived workloads. There are five main characteristics (participation, intangibility, heterogeneity, simultaneity and perishability) of the process which are unique to service delivery and can impact on the level of participation that is required from a customer in order to add value to the service encounter (Claycomb, 2001). The level of participation and individual role of each customer is determined by the nature of the service. For example, a patient in a hospital would be expected to have a high level of direct interaction with the service provider whereas the level of interaction between an airline pilot and a passenger would be fairly minimal. By assessing the expected level of customer participation, a service organization can implement specific design considerations that will support the level of customer participation in the creation of the service delivery. ...read more.


Customers are frequently active participants in the service process and are often required to either physically be present or provide information as a precursor to the event (Hsieh, 2003). Some customers are prepared to play just a physical role such as filling up at the petrol station whereas others interact personally with employees and other customers. The level of activity can vary greatly from customers who simply turn up and that is the extent of their participation, to customers who become actively involved as co producers (Claycomb, 2001). When customers become physically involved, they take over roles that were previously carried out by the service provider and can reduce the perceived workload in the process. This belief is supported by Lovelock and Young (1979) who suggested that if customers could assume a more active role in the service delivery process, they would essentially remove some of the labour from the organization. Service organizations that utilize customers as co producers can gain competitive advantages such as increased efficiency, increased customer satisfaction, reduced marketing costs through positive word of mouth publicity and greater sales volume. As a consequence of co-production, customers who choose to have a reduced level of participation can have a negative impact on the service delivery (Claycomb, 2001). ...read more.


As a result, service providers perceived workload is clearly more important than the physical nature of it. This issue can be addressed by ensuring the role of each party is clearly identified and the amount of control each participant has. Westwood (1999) suggests in her study that the mutual understanding between customers and service providers increased satisfaction and was more likely to occur if both parties had a clear understanding of what was expected of them. CONCLUSION There is much to suggest that service organizations can benefit from an increase in customer participation in service delivery. We have seen that an ideal situation would occur when the service encounter triad is balanced and all three entities have an equal distribution of control. While customers can have an active role in the service process, the service provider and customer must interact with each other so that there is a clear understanding of the role each has to play as well the expectation of the final outcome. This is further supported by the suggestion that it is critical for the customer to have a working knowledge of the organization so that their contributions can be a positive addition to the organization. While there are obviously potential negative aspects to an increase in customer participation, these can be addressed by managing the level of participation so that it fits within the goals and objectives of the service organization. ...read more.

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