Methodology/approach: The authors developed a checklist of best practices for call centers from the literature. These checklists were discussed with call center staff and their managers and compared to their standard operating procedures and measurement/staff evaluation systems. All participants acknowledged that this was an experiment and the results could not be used for employee evaluation. Through multiple iterations with call center staff and managers; the researchers developed a three part call evaluation system to include (1) value demand (2) failure demand and (3) not able to determine. This call evaluation system was used for several days. The ratio of the three categories was charted in a simple spreadsheet.
Findings: Managers of service operations are deeply interested in simultaneously improving efficiencies and customer satisfaction. Any validated tool to achieve these goals is highly valued. The findings indicated that the value/failure demand measurement system was useful and many failure demand occurrences occurred. Managers will consider improvements based on these data.
Research Limitations: This study describes a tiny sample of the service economy and is limited to direct service providers in call centers and their managers. This first step did not validate value from the point of view of the customer. This would be the next logical step for additional research.
Practical implications: Service providers need simple tools to assess operations; improve quality and efficiency. This was the first step in what we hope will be the development of an easy-to-use tool for the continuous improvement of services.
Keywords: Service; quality; value; demand; failure; customer; lean
11th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organizational Development Attaining Sustainability From Organizational Excellence to SustainAble Excellence; 20-22 August; 2008 in Helsingborg; Sweden
Ahlstrom; P. 2004. âLean service operations: translating lean production to service operationsâ; International Journal of Services Technology; 5(5-6); 545-564.
Bellamy; A. & Tucker; W. 2006; âSocial psychological dimensions of quality: an exploratory analysisâ; Ninth Quality Management and Organization Development Conference; Liverpool; U.K.
Bowen; D. & Youngdahl; W.1998; ââLeanâ service: in defense of a production-line approach; International Journal of Service Industry Management. V. 9; Issue 3; pp.207-225.
Feinberg; R.; IK-Suk; K. & Hokama; L. 2000 Operational determinants of caller satisfaction in the call centerâ; International. Journal of Service Industry Management. Vol. 11; No. 2; pp. 131-41.
Hines; P.; Holwef; M. & Rich; N. 2004; âLearning to evolve: A review of contemporary lean thinkingâ; International Journal of Operations & Production Management; Vol. 24 No. 10; pp. 994-1011.
Johnston; R. 2004; âTowards a better understanding of service excellenceâ; Managing Service Quality; Volume 14; Number 2/3; pp. 129-133
Johnston; R. and Jones; P. 2004; âService productivity: towards understanding the relationship between operational and customer productivityâ; International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management; Vol. 53; No. 3; .pp. 201-213.
MacDuffie; J. 1995; âWorkersâ roles in lean production: the implications for worker representationâ. In Lean Work; ed. S. Babson .Wayne State University Press; Detroit.
Maleyeff; J. 2006; âExploration of internal service systems using lean principlesâ; Management Decision; Vol. 44; No. 5; pp. 674-689.
Marr; B. & Parry; S. 2004; âPerformance management in call centers: lessons; pitfalls and achievements in Fujitsu servicesâ; Measuring Business Excellence; 8(40); 55-62.
Nonaka; I. & Takeuchi; T. 1995; The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. Oxford University Press; New York.
Parry; S. 2004; Managing and Measuring for Value. Research Report for Publication. Cranfield School of Management and Fujitsu; Bedfordshire; Great Britain.
Parasuraman; A.; Zeithaml; V.; & Berry; L. 1985; âA conceptual model for service quality and implementations for future researchâ; Journal of Marketing; 49 Fall; pp.41-50.
Parasuraman; A.; Zeithaml; V.; & Berry; L. 1988; âSERVQUAL: a multiple item scale for measuring customer perceptions of service qualityâ; Journal of Retailing; 64; Spring; pp. 12-40.
Seddon; J. 2005; Freedom from Command and Control; Productivity Press; New York.
Swank; C. 2003; âThe lean service machineâ; Harvard Business Review; October.
Womack; J. and Jones; D. 1996; Lean Thinking; Simon & Schuster; New York; NY.
Womack; J.; Jones; D. and Roos; D. 1990; The Machine That Changed the World; HarperCollins. Publishers; New York; NY.