Stakeholder involvement in the new service design process: SERVICE QUALITY AND SERVICE DESIGN

Early work defined service quality as the difference between consumers’ perceptions and their expectations of the service. Although the complex, multifaceted nature of service quality is now well recognised, this basic premise still remains the foundation of most research. Two key service dimensions are usually recognised, ie process and outcome, alternatively functional and technical quality. Similarly, the need for more robust design of services proposed by Shostack, describes two aspects: the service and product elements. A key distinction is that for services, it is the former that attracts most attention in the design process. Techniques such as ‘blueprinting’, ‘molecular modelling’, Quality Function Deployment (QFD,) approaches of Total Quality Management (TQM) and more recently Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), although not exclusively related to services, highlight the need for quality to be built into operations if customer satisfaction and profitability are to be achieved. A consistent message is that quality standards must begin at the design stage. Specific application of service design in a financial services setting however, often describes the new product development process.

NPD research in financial services and other sectors has concentrated largely on two aspects. First, on improving the management of the process and developing an innovative organisational culture. Secondly, on enhancing existing NPD models in terms of the speed of the process, and improving and integrating the design stages. Application of these models and concepts to the service setting, however, raises issues about the nature of services and the relevance of the NPD and design process.

Researchers are also increasingly recognising the impact of complex organisational factors (eg organisational politics and culture) and the external environment upon these processes. Accordingly, the following case study considers the social framework of service design in a UK clearing bank, identifying stakeholders and establishing potential and actual sources of conflict.

METHODOLOGY

The case study is based on a series of in- depth interviews with senior personnel involved in the design process. These are members of two sections, ie product development (PD) and market analysis (MA), of the recently formed (1995) new product development department (NPDD) of a UK clearing bank.

Data collection draws on multiple sources of evidence to allow for triangulation. In addition to key informant interviews, data were also obtained through ongoing discussions with the participating managers throughout the project and by drawing on supporting documentary evidence (eg annual reports, design protocols, project reports, product literature and archival material). The findings were then discussed during a one- day feedback workshop towards the end of the project, attended by the interviewees. This contributed to what Kvale terms the ‘verification process‘ in qualitative research whereby the researcher ascertains the reliability and validity of the findings and the scope for generalising from them.

 

Representative APR 391%

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