Service delivery system design: characteristics and contingencies
Maull, Roger S.
International Journal of Operations and Production Management
Purpose: The aim of this paper is to explore and empirically investigate the characteristics and contingencies of service delivery system design. Design/methodology/approach: Informed by the service strategy triad, a single embedded case study was designed to explore empirical data on four target markets, four service concepts, and on the design characteristics of the corresponding four service delivery systems. Data was collected in a market leading organisation in the B2B sector within the power industry. The service delivery systems comprise processes that sell electricity contracts and processes that bill against those contracts. Findings: First, the findings indicate what design characteristics are contingent upon the degree of customisation of the service concept. We show how this contingency has implications for the extents of employee skills, employee discretion, task routineness, automation, and for front office – back office configurations. Second, we challenge the consensus that low customer-contact processes are designed for the purpose of efficiency. Third, our findings contradict Metters and Vargas (2000) who state that it is not possible to have different front office – back office configurations in a single organisation. Research limitations/implications: While there are major interactions between the four service delivery systems supporting each individual service concept, this research does not examine the trade-offs between the various possible designs of these service delivery systems. Practical implications: The study emphasises the importance of considering the complexity of the service offering, the customer relationship strategy, and of taking a process-orientation to address service delivery system design.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 31 (3), pp.324 – 349. DOI: 10.1108/01443571111111946 "This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here: https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited."
Vol. 31, Issue 3, pp. 324 - 349