Academic journal article Journal of Business Strategies

Service Encounter Mismatches: A Conceptual Framework Integrating It and Job Design

Academic journal article Journal of Business Strategies

Service Encounter Mismatches: A Conceptual Framework Integrating It and Job Design

Article excerpt

Abstract

As the services sector becomes a larger component of our national economy, it becomes increasingly critical that the management of service operations is addressed systematically. One concern is the interaction of service employees and the technology making up the job design. Effectively matching job design and technology leads to effective service encounters, while mismatches cause short-run or long run problems for the organization.

Organizational mismatches between job design and supporting infrastructure, specifically the information technology (IT) selected, can give rise to the use and exercise of judgment and discretion by service encounter employees that from the viewpoint of the organization or the customer is extraordinary, conflicted, or perverse. Perverse judgments debilitate the organization and degrade the quality of the service encounter. Conflicted and extraordinary, judgments ultimately debilitate the organization and may degrade the quality of the service encounter if some customers should perceive others as having received preferential treatment. This paper explores dynamics in managing operations, technology, and human resources that give rise to the exercise of such judgments with the intent to construct a conceptual framework that will explain such judgments and the behaviors that issue from them.

Introduction

The importance of the service encounter to a service organization is well documented in the operations management and marketing literature. This encounter is often the only point of contact the customer has with the organization. It is the context in which the organization provides the customer with what is presumably of value. The customer assesses the value of what the service organization provides on the basis of how adequately it provides explicit and implicit benefits that meet customer needs and expectations. It is thus incumbent upon a service organization to insure that its customer contact personnel are sufficiently supported through appropriate job design, training, and supporting infrastructure that can include an appropriate information technology (IT). This better insures that the organization's customer contact personnel represent it in the best possible way to its customers.

Job design defines the extent to which customer contact personnel must exercise judgment in meeting customer needs. Ideally, the organization's infrastructure is sufficient to support the conformance of job design to customer needs. This paper will explore dynamics in managing operations, technology, and human resources that give rise to the exercise of problematic judgments with the intent to construct a conceptual framework that will explain such judgments and the behaviors that issue from them. The authors have identified three types of problematic judgments that they label perverse, conflicted, and extraordinary judgments. Perverse judgments debilitate the organization and degrade the quality of the service encounter. Conflicted and extraordinary judgments ultimately debilitate the organization and may degrade the quality of the service encounter if some customers should perceive others as having received preferential treatment. A conceptual framework that provides an adequate understanding of the dynamics that prompt such judgments being made permits more effective planning of the service encounter, the discovery and analysis of the nature of service quality gaps, and suggests actions that can be taken to close those gaps. In cases where these judgments occur, remedial actions can be taken that have both operational and strategic implications. Such a framework can benefit both the organization and the customers it serves.

This paper is divided into five parts. Part One is a literature review. This review provides the motivation for critiquing the quality of service encounters as a technology management and subsequent organizational design issue. …

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