The case of Lloyds TSB Bank: Phase three

Phase three — Primary research: Process observation

According to Chen (1998), observing processes serve as an effective approach to identifying problems pertaining to quality. The specific observation technique that was used is known as ‘participant as observer’. Becoming a ‘guinea pig’ is an effective way of developing, at first hand, an understanding of the service experience in exactly the same way as a customer would when interacting with the service provider. Research team members were students who simultaneously were participants and observers and were exposed to different stages of the OSA process. They gained knowledge about the operational activities as they occurred in a real-world context, in real time, without hiding their scientific intentions and without the prompting of potential distortions or discomfort from post hoc verbal descriptions. In addition, they remained in the background and watched and listened to what others did and said, and the circumstances in which these actions and comments occurred. Field experimentation took place in the branch which made it realistic for external validity.

One can gather quality data, and thus obtain an insight into customer perception and how it is influenced by all the various activities that occur throughout the whole process of service delivery, as it proceeds in its natural environment. A significant factor that enabled the use of this technique was obtaining organisational access and cooperation. During the development of the research strategy, it was important to consider the ‘conflict between what is theoretically desirable on the one hand, and what is practically possible on the other’. Failure to obtain sufficient ‘physical’ access and cooperation might have required a review of the feasibility, and led to modification of the research question and objectives.

The primary purpose of phases two and three of the research strategy was to provide the necessary data required to address the following terms of reference:

—      To develop a service quality process map to depict the operational process steps, representing both consumer and business perspectives

—      To identify and express clearly and diagrammatically problem areas regarding service delivery.

It was from this position that it was possible to prepare justified solutions to the problems identified.


Representative APR 391%

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