|Abstract:||Many traditional (click and brick) firms have been struggling in their attempt to turn their Internet presence into a competitive asset (Simons, Bouwman & Steinfield, 2002). In this paper, we focus on designing e-service concepts in situations where other service and distribution channels (e.g. retail stores, personal sales representatives or contact centres) are already available. These new e-service concepts have to be aligned with existing channels. Together they are expected to offer added value. Service concepts and service design are among the least studied and understood areas of services marketing. Even though service design has been identified as ‘perhaps the most crucial factor for quality’ (Gummesson 1993), the first phases are ill-structured (Simons& Bouwman, 2004), time pressure is high (Gordijn 2002) and it is hard to guarantee customer orientation (Ramaswamy 1996).|
Service concept and service design methodologies, which we will discuss in more detail in the next section, are not well-developed, nor are they used effectively and efficiently, and as a result services are often sloppily designed (Johnston 1999; Goldstein, Johnston et al. 2002). It is even more difficult to find methods that support e-service design for a multi-channel context. A study of 19 cases shows that e-service (concept) design is a chaotic process that often leads to service failures, channel conflicts and financial losses (Simons & Bouwman, 2004). In this paper we present a method that meets design criteria such as channel coherence and synergy, and using qualitative quasiexperimental research we show that it is a method that meets those criteria better than an alternative, more general method. To do so, we start by reviewing existing services design methods and multi-channel literature in order to extract relevant design criteria. We will then propose an alternative approach, i.e. extended Quality Functional Deployment (MUCHQFD). We will answer our research question - “Does MUCHQFD score better in terms of meeting the relevant design requirements than a more general (fundamental engineering) design approach?” - by comparing the process and the design artefact for both methods in six ‘cases’.