An integrated framework for service quality sqbok- perspective


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his article identifies the need for a comprehensive
body of knowledge in the service quality domain
and presents a framework to the service quality community. The framework is part of the Service Quality
Body of Knowledge (SQBOK), an initiative undertaken by ASQ Service Quality Division members. The
objective of this article is to introduce the theoretical
rationale of the framework and to identify the different determinants of service quality. The research
team, consisting of members of the Service Quality
Division of ASQ, adopted brainstorming, affinity
diagram, Delphi techniques, and interview-based
methods to identify and define four key concepts and
seven knowledge areas. Each element of the framework is discussed in detail. After discussing strategies
to deliver service quality as per SQBOK, a follow-up
research direction is provided toward the end of the
article. The article challenges both practitioner and
academic communities to find practical solutions
and identify a body of knowledge based on wellestablished theories and principles.

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An integrated framework for service quality sqbok- perspective

  1. 1. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspective Rajesh Kumar Tyagi, HEC Montreal Nikhil Varma, HEC Montreal Navneet Vidyarthi, Concordia university © 2013, ASQThis article identifies the need for a comprehensivebody of knowledge in the service quality domain INTRODUCTIONand presents a framework to the service quality com- The service sector now accounts for well over 70munity. The framework is part of the Service Quality percent of the total gross domestic product inBody of Knowledge (SQBOK), an initiative under- most Organization for Economic Co-operationtaken by ASQ Service Quality Division members. Theobjective of this article is to introduce the theoretical and Development (OECD) countries (OECD 2012).rationale of the framework and to identify the dif- Considering the importance of the service sector,ferent determinants of service quality. The research various textbooks on service operations and market-team, consisting of members of the Service Quality ing management present relevant research worksDivision of ASQ, adopted brainstorming, affinity by providing a general background of service qual-diagram, Delphi techniques, and interview-based ity (Rust and Oliver 1994; Hope and Muhlemannmethods to identify and define four key concepts andseven knowledge areas. Each element of the frame- 1997; Schneider and White 2004; Lovelock andwork is discussed in detail. After discussing strategies Wirtz 2004; Johnston and Clark 2005; Metters et deliver service quality as per SQBOK, a follow-up 2006; Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons 2008). Theseresearch direction is provided toward the end of the textbooks and research publications in service qual-article. The article challenges both practitioner and ity and related fields span the topics of marketing,academic communities to find practical solutions operations research, human resources, consumerand identify a body of knowledge based on well-established theories and principles. research, and various sector-specific initiatives. However, the knowledge presented in the literatureKey words: core concepts of service quality, frame- often is focused on the perspective of one functionalworks for service quality, knowledge areas of servicequality, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, area and often fails to bridge the gap between themodels for service quality, service quality, scorecard academic and the practitioner world.for service quality One of the major challenges in managing ser- vice quality is the lack of a common definition of services and a general lack of a standard mea- surement system originating from the intangible nature of services. Unlike products, service offer- ings do not have any physical manifestation. The characteristics of service, generally speaking, are summarized as intangibility, inseparability, hetero- geneity, and perishability (Regan 1963; Rathmell34 QMJ VOL. 20, no. 2/© 2013, ASQ
  2. 2. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspective1966; Shostack 1977; Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and discussion of delivery service quality as per SQBOK.Berry 1985; Evans and Ford 1997; Fitzsimmons and The last section describes the further developmentFitzsimmons 2008). These intangible attributes and research direction of the field.make it more difficult for the providers to meet theheterogeneous “perceptive” demands of each cus-tomer (Ghobadian, Speller, and Jones 1994). Some A REVIEW OF EXISTINGdefinitions of services are based on features and char- FRAMEWORKSacteristics and others are based on the fulfillment of Deming (2000) argues that “quality” is a predictablecustomer expectations. degree of uniformity and predictability at a low cost While some articles have recognized the need suited for the market. Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmonsfor strategies to deliver a high-quality service to (2008) define services as a time-perishable, intan-customers (Gounaris and Dimitriadis 2003; Chen gible experience performed for a customer acting inand Chang 2005), others have identified a need the role of a co-producer. Ennew, Reed, and Binksfor further research in this area (Ladhari 2009; (1993) state that service quality is not judged byDabholkar, Shephard, and Thorpe 2000). Literature its outcome but by the process through which it ishas also identified a need to bridge the gap between delivered and, hence, it is difficult to identify theacademia and the real world in terms of qual- objective performance indicators, which results inity frameworks, standards, and processes in the problems for the service consumers in assessing theservice industry (Latham 2008). After a thorough service quality. Cronin and Taylor (1992) suggeststudy of the literature in the area of service qual- and demonstrate a model of measuring service byity and a perception of a gap for the service quality characterizing it as an attitude of the customers thatpractitioner, the Service Quality Division of ASQ should be the core focus.undertook a project to identity a common defini- There are primarily two schools of thought intion of services and a framework that could serve measuring service quality. One suggests that serviceas a theoretical formulation. The stated objec- quality is best measured by customer evaluationstive of the project was to foster the knowledge of the service that consume (Cronin and Taylorand professional development needs of the ser- 1992), while the other looks more specificallyvice quality community. The gap identified by at the difference in customer expectations anda survey, conducted in 2004, of service quality actual services consumed by them (Gronroos 1984;professionals — members of ASQ’s Service Quality Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry 1985; SpohrerDivision — was the main motivation behind the et al. 2007).formulation of a standardized set of definitions and Within the research community, the needactivities within an umbrella framework of the to define and measure service quality has beenService Quality Body of Knowledge (SQBOK). addressed while discussing existing frameworks and The intent of this article is to provide a bridge models. The authors can identify research communi-between theoretical and practical aspects of service ties associated with the Malcolm Baldrige Nationalquality and to spur further research in this area. Quality Award, the Service Profit Chain, the EuropeanThe remainder of the article is organized as follows. Quality Award (EFQM Excellence Model), SERVQUAL,In the next section, the authors provide a review of the Service Science initiative, and literature in theexisting frameworks followed by an overview of the area of applications of Six Sigma for services. A moremethodology used for the SQBOK research work. exhaustive review of existing frameworks in ser-The SQBOK framework development is presented vice quality is provided by Seth et al. (2005) whilein the subsequent section, followed by a detailed reviewing 19 different models for service quality. 35
  3. 3. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspective The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for the service industry (Hensley and Dobie 2005;recognizes organizations for excellence irrespective Goel et al. 2005; Tyagi and Gupta 2008). The appli-of the sector. Critical linkages among various ele- cations of Six Sigma methodology to services arements of the Baldrige criteria have been discussed driven by the need to deliver faster, better, andand tested in the literature (Evans 1997; Ford and cheaper services to customers. This need is based onEvans 2000; Wilson and Collier 2000). A view of the premise that customers’ satisfaction is directlythe customer-employee mirror is presented by the influenced by the service quality’s timeliness andservice-profit chain where a link is demonstrated response to their needs (Antony 2006). The ser-between employee satisfaction and customer sat- vice scorecard concept recognizes the need for aisfaction (Heskett, Sasser, and Schlesinger 1997; measurement system in the service sector. It identi-Kamakura et al. 2002). The rich stream of literature fies the characteristics of services — intangibility,in SERVQUAL, a service quality framework based proximity to the customers, and concurrent produc-on customer perception (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, tion and delivery (Tyagi and Gupta 2008; Tyagiand Berry 1985; Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry 2011). Taking these into consideration, it identifies1985; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry 1988; a framework for measuring different tangibles andParasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry 2005), provides presents to management areas in need of attentiona view from the customer’s perspective and helps for improving service quality. These improvementidentify gaps between perceptions and expectations. frameworks don’t tend to deliver on more strategicA nonexhaustive literature review on SERVQUAL upfront decisions of service design.(Ladhari 2009), examining 20 years of its his- Additionally, some relevant frameworks andtory, describes 30 applications of the framework. An models that require special mention are discussed inadaptation of this framework representing internal this section. Franceschini and Rossetto (1999) pro-service quality is presented in Frost and Kumar posed an online tool called Qualimetro. This tool is(2000). However, no single model presented in the conceived for the evaluation of an “online” service.literature is comprehensive enough to capture Qualimetro monitors the developments by meansmultiple perspectives and the interdisciplinary of a “p” control chart. A three-component model,nature of service quality. which includes the service product, its environ- Service Science Management and Engineering ment, and delivery, was conceptualized by Rust and(SSME), a broader area of service science encom- Oliver (1994). Another study refers to task, treat-passing service quality, has been promoted by IBM ment, and tangibles (3Ts) as three critical aspects ofworldwide (Maglio et al. 2006; Larson 2008; Maglio service that need to be managed to ensure high ser-and Spohrer 2008; Maglio, Kieliszewski, and Spohrer vice (Chase and Stewart 1994). Rust, Zahorik, and2010). The group is actively creating new pro- Keiningham (1995) presented a framework calledgrams at the university/college level to fulfill the return on quality (ROQ) that ensures financialneeds of graduates with knowledge of such a field. accountability of quality decisions. Several inte-However, this stream of literature is more pertinent grated approaches have been defined to measure theto researchers in the field of information technology. perceived service quality (Brady and Cronin 2001).The adoption of this initiative in non-information Santos (2003) presented an e-service quality frame-technology service sectors is still unclear and being work based on focus group studies. Parasuraman,debated. However, an initial promise of generality of Zeithaml, and Malhotra (2005) presented anapplication has not materialized. adapted two-stage version of electronic service qual- Six Sigma methodology, a widely used practice ity, representing two distinct stages of encounters:in the manufacturing industry, has been adapted routine online service encounters and nonroutine36 QMJ VOL. 20, no. 2/© 2013, ASQ
  4. 4. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspective Table 1 Summary of service quality standards. Approach to Service Quality Objectives SERVQUAL: Measures the gap Introduces five dimensions (RATER) to measure the gap between customer expectations and experience. between customer expectation The framework has been used in a variety of subsectors and is a useful tool to identify gaps from and experience customers’ perspectives. Service-specific methodology. (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry 1985) SERVPERF: Customer perception Defines that customer perceptions should drive service quality, which results in the buying decisions of drives buying decisions the customer and hence has an impact on the profitability of the company (Cronin and Taylor 1992). Malcolm Baldrige National Assessment model and recognizes organizations for performance excellence. Quality award program. Quality Award (renamed Baldrige Provides organizational assessment tools and recognizes national role models in the United States. Performance Excellence Program) EFQM Excellence Model European quality award using peer ratings. The EFQM is a membership network and helps identify good practices and emerging trends. Six Sigma oriented view of Transactional view of services. DMAIC steps improve service by reducing defects and increasing service services (define, measure, analyze, satisfaction. Methodology has been adapted to services. (Goel et al. 2005; Aboelmaged 2010). improve, and control, or DMAIC) ISO/IEC 20000: Defines An international IT standard that allows companies to demonstrate excellence and prove best practices design, transition, delivery, and in IT management. Provides guidance on the application of service management systems. It has nine improvement of services to fulfill sections. service requirements Service Scorecard The scorecard provides measureable results in the form of a dashboard to identify measures of performance. The basic architecture consists of seven elements. Incorporates relative weights/tradeoffs and benchmarking to identify improvement opportunities (Tyagi and Gupta 2008). SSME service science, “As such, service science draws on ideas from a number of existing disciplines—including computer ©2013, ASQ management, and engineering science, cognitive science, economics, organizational behavior, human resources management, marketing, operations research, and others—and aims to integrate them into a coherent whole.“,_management_and_engineering/encounters. The research showed that an incubative specifically for services. For example, SERVQUALdimension consisting of ease of use, appearance, is more focused on the customer perception andlinkages, structure and layout, and content Six Sigma is more focused on the variations andincreases hit rates and customer retention in an errors, while others such as the Baldrige and EFQMe-service environment. Table 1 summarizes selected excellence models are used as assessment tools forframeworks and initiatives related to the field of awarding quality prizes. Broadly speaking, exist-service quality. The authors chose frameworks based ing frameworks focus on individual components ofon the uniqueness that represents the landscape of service delivery, award criteria, customer viewpoint,the frameworks and have refrained from including and improvement methodology. While some frame-all of the frameworks. An exhaustive description works focus on one particular aspect of the serviceof each of these frameworks is beyond the scope of delivery system, others fail to deliver on more strate-this article. Readers are referred to the identified gic upfront decisions of service design. Hence, thereliterature for in-depth descriptions, for example, is a need for an integrated framework that incorpo-Seth, Deshmukh, and Vrat (2005) and Tyagi and rates upfront strategic decisions while consideringGupta (2008) and references therein. Some of the the interdisciplinary nature of service quality andapproaches listed in Table 1 are generic assess- bridging between theoretical and practical aspectsments or auditing tools, and others are designed of service quality. 37
  5. 5. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK PerspectiveMETHODOLOGY reviewed by three external reviewers. A draft ver- sion of the framework was also reviewed by pastIn 2005, the Service Quality Division of ASQ presidents of ASQ. The process to depict the SQBOKdefined a vision for creating a holistic resource for framework visually also went through peer reviewsservice quality professionals. Following the needs and pretesting.assessment survey by the division, a steering team Multiple cycles of review involved nearly 100was formed to identify important service concepts, practitioners in different fields and roles in servicetools, and issues of service professionals and to quality. No formal methodologies were applied inbridge the knowledge gap between the academic surveying experts or collecting feedback; however,world and the real world. different groups of practitioners provided checks The starting discussion point was a master’s on each other’s work at different steps.thesis work of Piccotti (2006), in which there wasa discussion of the possibility of having a bodyof knowledge (BOK) and indicating the need for SQBOK Frameworkthe same from an ASQ survey conducted in 2004. Items included in the SQBOK are topics, tools, orReview of a variety of existing frameworks followed, methods that meet the following criteria:including Baldrige, ISO 9000 principles, ASQ certi- 1. Specific to or having specific applicability tofication BOK, other BOKs such as PMBOK and the serviceAPICS OMBOK, and service-specific frameworks. 2. Applicable across multiple service types andThe intention was to base the SQBOK on well- industriesestablished concepts and quality principles, takinginto consideration the uniqueness of services. 3. Established level of peer acceptance A major brainstorming session was held at the In version 2.0 of the SQBOK, the frameworkannual meeting of the Service Quality Division in consists of two major groups of principles: the first2007 in Orlando, FL. Following the brainstorm- grouping represents four key concepts, and the sec-ing session, the project team identified the basic ond represents the management aspects, includingstructure of the framework and the boundaries of seven quality management knowledge areas. Figurethe project. The group was divided into sub teams 1 represents the framework; an initial version intro-and every project team had a team leader. The ducing the framework was published in a Qualityteams adopted methodologies such as brainstorm- Progress (Tyagi and Piccotti 2012). The four keying, affinity diagrams, Delphi, and semi-structured concepts provide the organization with a differ-interviews. These methods helped identify and entiation in their service delivery, and these keydefine key concepts, knowledge areas, and tools. concepts are what differentiate service quality fromThe teams focused on the service industry spe- the traditional view of quality. These key conceptscifically and expanded their studies to more than are unique to the SQBOK and do not figure into any45 different service quality roles such as project other framework.managers, business practice leads, and quality The rationale to include four key concepts wasmanagers. The teams included more than 60 qual- based on the available literature identifying theity professionals who were supported by more than need to separate strategic elements from other100 volunteers to work iteratively for over six years quality management topics. Arguments found into come up with the current version (2.0) of the recent literature (Kull and Narasimhan 2010)SQBOK. Each team prepared an initial version of can be used to support these key concepts. Powelleach core concept and knowledge area that was (1995) examines total quality management (TQM)38 QMJ VOL. 20, no. 2/© 2013, ASQ
  6. 6. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK PerspectiveFigure 1 SQBOK framework. Leadership Strategy development and deployment e En Service management systems t ur Information management vi r t r uc Em t fo d onm rke r an cus pl o nd infras e n t a nd i n f r a s t r u ma tome yee foc s Cu us ment a Service delivery iron Process management c tu v En re Communication Key service quality concepts ©2013, ASQ Measurement and analysis Service quality managementas a potential source of sustainable competitive of a service organization. Considering these fouradvantage and reported findings from an empirical concepts before taking into account the sevenstudy of TQM’s performance consequences. TQM knowledge areas can take the organization a stepsuccess appears to depend critically on executive further to gain considerable advantage over othercommitment, open organization, and employee organizations that have completely or partiallyempowerment, and less upon such TQM staples as implemented only the seven knowledge areas basedbenchmarking, training, flexible manufacturing, on principles as defined in previous research.process improvement, and improved measurement. The seven knowledge areas provide any organi-These management tools apparently do not pro- zation with a framework for the design of serviceduce performance advantages in the absence of delivery. In Figure 1, one can see some similarities,the intangibles. The research shows that to gain especially on the side depicting the seven manage-a competitive advantage, firms should focus their ment areas, to other quality frameworks, such as theefforts on creating a culture within which these Baldrige criteria. During the initial phases of SQBOKprocedures can thrive. The culture of quality, or brainstorming, Baldrige was just one of the frame-in other words the intangible side of the equa- works reviewed. However, Baldrige did not emerge astion, is represented by the four core concepts of a dominant influence during the development cycles.the SQBOK. These four key concepts represent In fact, no single framework did. After the SQBOKthe culture or the way of functioning of a service structure was complete and when the frameworkorganization, and map the strategic value system was depicted visually, the broader categories could 39
  7. 7. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspective Table 2 Key service concepts. Activities Key elements Customer and Stakeholder identification is done followed by Stakeholder identification, cost/benefit analysis, expectation market focus requirements and wants analysis of the stakeholders. analysis of offering/attributes, primary/secondary market This helps in relationship management. research, mystery shopping, behavior response, outreach and education, data mining, customer feedback/recovery. Employee focus Helps the organization put the right person to the Job description and staffing for service, creation of high- right job by creating an environment that caters to performance work environment, employee performance employee growth and fosters retention. measurement, engagement and retention, empowerment. Communication This involves the identification of type of Nonverbal communication, body language, interaction and communication required by the market and cultural differences, planning for communication such as channels to deliver it. forums and avenues. Service delivery The three different types of services: transactional, Moment of truth considerations, planned escalation/complaint nontransactional, and internal services are identified management, multiple channel (capacity, availability, and ©2013, ASQ and appropriate strategies implemented for effective cost), knowledge processes, capacity analysis, internal delivery of each. measurement, treating customers as partner (co-production), employee recognition and seen to show similarities, not just to Baldrige but leadership. Leadership is ultimately responsi-to other frameworks as well. On the left side, qual- ble for charting out a service vision identifyingity management is well mapped and represented in quality culture, corporate social responsibility,the framework. However, the quality management and ethical standards. A service quality visionon the left side works in tandem with core concepts plays an important role in streamlining therepresented on the right side. leadership focus, aligning internal quality In the figure, the core concepts are connected efforts with customer experience, documentingto the management areas in an interdependent policy regarding ethical and legal behavior, andmanner via a double-sided arrow indicating global developing corporatewide quality standards. Ainterrelationship of these two groups. At this stage, service vision statement can be specific to anthe authors prefer to use a double-sided arrow even individual service, or it can be generally appliedthough they had stated that intangibles may pro- to a service offering portfolio. Identifying corevide greater competitive advantage. Representing values is an important strategic step that is typi-individual relationships and quantifying causality cally revisited every two to three years to ensureis beyond the scope of this article and only a data- their relevancy. Corporate social responsibility,driven approach could provide the authors more another core value of a service enterprise, is aclarity on these aspects. Definitions of four key quality attribute used by some customers whenconcepts and relevant decisions are shown in Table making purchasing decisions. The four core2. In order to deliver high service quality, the deter- concepts of the SQBOK provide guidelines tominants have to be identified. The SQBOK identifies leadership in identifying these core values.the following knowledge areas to be able to control, 2. Strategic development and deployment.monitor, and deliver a high service quality. These Activities such as capability modeling andknowledge areas build the framework to support competitive analysis are conducted follow-service quality management: ing customer segmentation to achieve service 1. Leadership. Service quality planning requires differentiation. Different strategies that pro- the sponsorship and commitment of corporate mote customer retention, such as monitoring40 QMJ VOL. 20, no. 2/© 2013, ASQ
  8. 8. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspective customer feedback, incentives, and assessment methodologies, are also discussed. Delivering Service Quality 3. Service management systems. The system as Per SQBOK could be based on standard frameworks such as The four key concepts in conjunction with the seven CMMI, ISO 9001, and Baldrige. Requirements quality management knowledge areas constitute a are gathered to ensure customer satisfaction framework that organizations can apply. Leadership stays at higher levels. The delivery system is and service portfolio owners are responsible for ser- planned based on various concepts such as vice visioning, which incorporates culture definition lean principles and queuing theory. and development and identification of core values. 4. Process management. The activities associ- The core concepts of the SQBOK and knowledge ated with service quality management processes areas will help fulfill this service vision. The first are identified and monitored. Processes such part of this section focused on four core concepts as quality assurance, supplier management, followed by a discussion on other decisions related process reviews, and feedback collection for to service quality management areas. continuous improvement are covered. 5. Measurement and analysis. This area provides metrics to all process owners and Quality Decisions Related leadership on the outcome of service quality to the Core Concepts management endeavors. Data such as customer The customer and market focus key concept pro- feedback outcomes from surveys and focus vides an important base for planning. By deploying groups and customer lifetime value provide the right process for stakeholder identification, insight on service quality. Internal measure- the service organization will have a clear focus of ments such as cost of quality provide decision the target that needs to be addressed. Conducting makers with crucial inputs. requirements and wants analysis on these stake- 6. Information management. In any ser- holders will then help the service organization vice delivery system, a lot of data are collected further focus on the content that is expected from from various sources. To be able to have a their target market. As a continuous improvement high customer confidence level, it is important or innovation strategy, relationship management for the organization to have a secure system. will help track customer feedback and inputs, which Customers’ personal information should be will help in improving the service further. Some handled with extra care. Communication of service firms may follow a continuous improvement these safe internal policies provides customers strategy using a Six Sigma approach, while others with extra trust on the service quality manage- could seek certifications. The managers could use ment process. A knowledge management module the concepts and knowledge areas presented in the can also be incorporated into the information SQBOK for some of these decisions. In this section, system. the authors illustrate a few examples of how SQBOK 7. Environment and infrastructure. The could be used for this purpose. environment and infrastructure provides to the organization an ease for service delivery. The Service delivery design organization should focus on productivity and Service delivery is one of the core concepts of the collaboration and develop employee-friendly SQBOK. However, a design of an effective service environments. delivery system touches areas represented by other 41
  9. 9. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspectivecore concepts and knowledge areas. For example, Contemporary thinking on customer complaintsthe engagement of employees, communication has shifted from the orientation that complaintsstrategy, and the extent of customer participation represent errors and have to be minimized to theare some of the key questions that help managers recognition that complaints are a valuable sourcedesign an effective service delivery system. Some of learning and should be encouraged. Customerother important drivers of the delivery system are complaints are received in the form of solicited andchoice of delivery channels, customer complaint unsolicited systems, and information systems. For Most unsolicited feedback is often negative. Thisexample, at a financial services firm, decision mak- is mainly because satisfied customers lack motiva-ers need to decide which delivery channels should tion and/or the feedback process is too difficult tobe used and what would be the ideal service capacity follow. To overcome low motivation, some firmsof each channel. make it very easy for customers to provide feed- back. For example, Procter & Gamble prints an 800Employee engagement and innovation number on every product package. A theme park inEmployee engagement, especially in services, plays Minnesota provides every 50th guest with two tokensan important role in the quality planning process. (“Special Thanks Awards”) as they enter the parkSome service organizations, for example, Southwest and invites them to hand them out to any employeeAirlines, go to the extent of calling their employees who makes a special effort to make the guest’s visittheir number-one customer of the organization. enjoyable. Customer dissatisfaction information canEmployee engagement not only has a direct impact be used to generate short-term corrective actions andon customer retention, but it can also be used to longer-term improvement to the delivery system.strengthen the innovation process, as employees The firm should acknowledge the complaintare often a source of innovative ideas. Typically, a promptly and should empathize with the client.service organization can define appropriate mecha- Often, service recovery includes some form of com-nisms for the right staffing, equipping employees pensation to the customer. This compensation maywith the right tools, and training to deliver a qual- be in the form of additional services, a couponity service. At the same time, the organization can for a discount on future services, or a discountdefine tangible and achievable goals to create an on the services that were not deemed acceptable.environment of satisfaction and empowerment, Compensation will generally not impact the percep-thereby retaining employees. Empowerment of tion of services rendered but may well impact theemployees by means of feedback gathering, profes- perception of the service provider and its ability tosional development, and motivational techniques provide future services.such as rewards, recognition, and incentives wouldincrease employee retention, and in turn reduce Communicationhuman resources costs. A blend of social media technologies can be a valu- able commercial asset for a service organization dueCustomer feedback and complaint management to its interactive nature and allowance for instantThe SQBOK provides guidelines on customer com- feedback. As an emerging phenomena, it is one inplaint management under the core concepts of which the speaker and the decision makers have littleservice delivery as well as customer and market control over the context in which their communi-focus. In order to provide high-quality service, firms cation might eventually be viewed. Therefore, theneed to capture customer feedback, and should service firms need to have a strategy for communica-have an effective complaint management system. tions. Customers, employees, and stakeholders could42 QMJ VOL. 20, no. 2/© 2013, ASQ
  10. 10. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspectivemake use of mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, The challenge is to identify appropriate measuresblogs, and similar social interaction. Such technology that directly impact service quality and to provideassists in the sharing of information and knowledge a universally accepted definition that could be usedand accommodates the globalization of business across value chain partners and within an orga-operations. For example, Dell uses the creative power nization. For example, definition of courtesy andof customer feedback on its dedicated and moderated professionalism could vary from one service firm towebsite ( for this purpose. The another. But each one should identify the individualfeedback is directly used by Dell, often resulting in the elements of these intangible dimensions of servicedelivery of new services to its customers. quality and create customized standards. Standards may be kept internal or communicated to prospec-Quality-related business decisions tive customers to set expectations. For example, UBSThe SQBOK encourages a strategic and comprehensive bank has published an internal 40-page dress codeapproach to service quality. This approach emphasizes standard providing recommendations to employees.better business decision making. Some of these busi- In this case, the dress code is expected to present aness decisions are related to more than one quality professional image of the employees. The color, fab-management area. For example, continuous improve- ric, and design of uniforms do not only establish anment would touch the areas of service management organization’s corporate image and brand within asystems, measurement and analysis, and process man- competitive market, but they also induce the sensoryagement. Similarly, performance management could and emotive appeal of potential and existing clientstouch the areas of measurement and analysis, stra- and employees. While service standards measuretegic development, and deployment and information outcomes, improvement comes from focusing onsystems. Partnership and strategic alliance decisions the behaviors that lead to the results.could touch the areas of leadership, environment,and infrastructure, and strategic development and Continuous improvementdeployment. Three important quality decisions that For continuous improvement, managers have acut across knowledge management areas include the choice of various tools and techniques such asdesign of a performance management system, the Six Sigma, ISO 9000, Capability Maturity Modelspursuit of continuous improvement, and engagement (specific for software development), and lean. Thein partnerships and strategic alliances. SQBOK provides a knowledge base to support the implementation of such tools and techniques. ForPerformance management system example, the knowledge area of the SQBOK-ServiceQuality measures should be developed to assess Management System explicitly describes these stan-the effectiveness of delivering the service vision dard frameworks and initiatives and provides aas proposed by leadership. Managers and leaders discussion on how to adapt these techniques toneed to define and identify measures to track the services. Six Sigma and lean concepts were initiallyperformance of service quality endeavors. However, developed for the manufacturing sector. Recently,identifying measures in the service environment these concepts have been adapted to the service sec-is a challenge due to intangibility. These mea- tor. However, often a cookie-cutter approach hassures could be internal/external, leading/lagging, been used for the implementation.and subjective/objective in nature. Some servicefirms may decide to have a comprehensive perfor- Partner and strategic alliancesmance measurement system. The SQBOK can be The decision whether to partner or go alone is anused as a resource to help design such a system. important strategy consideration in terms of owning 43
  11. 11. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspectivecustomers and quality implications. However, it is • Test the relative and individual importance ofbecoming increasingly common for service firms to each key concept and knowledge area and itsprovide services in cooperation with their partners. impact on the performance of the service organi-For example, a hotel may provide airline check-in zation. Fine tune the integrated model combiningservices in the lobby. Singapore Airlines provides all four key concepts and knowledge areas to studybaggage check-in services at hotels located in down- the impact on corporate Singapore and also provides a short tour of the • Identify and analyze contextual differences, forcity. The objective is to work together toward a com- example differences for sub-sectors and types ofmon outcome of providing a good quality service. services. The framework needs to be adapted forTherefore, partner selection and strategic alliances specific sub contexts. Develop specific in-depthplay an important role in delivering a good quality cases using the framework.service to clients. Partners often offer specialized The four key concepts and the seven serviceskills, reputation, and/ or cost savings while adding quality knowledge management areas provide acoordination complexity. The SQBOK provides some generalized framework for service quality profes-guideline on developing standards, partner selection sionals to deliver high service quality. However,process, and service-level agreements. descriptive hypotheses of strategic service quality The relationship between leadership and qual- management and delivery based on these conceptsity management decisions is incorporated into and knowledge areas have to be developed andtraditional frameworks such as the Baldrige Award tested. One way to identify the relationship hypoth-criteria. However, the interdependence of these man- esis between (and within) these key elements isagement decisions and core concepts (or the culture through survey-based data collection and the useof service quality) is not so clearly articulated in of advanced statistical analysis. Researchers couldother frameworks. For example, the design of a advance the SQBOK framework validity by develop-performance management system will have inter- ing propositions and linkages similar to previousdependence with the customer and market focus studies done for the Baldrige criteria (Evans 1997;and service delivery strategy. Similarly, continuous Ford and Evans 2000) and Six Sigma methodologyimprovement will have a relationship with ser- (Foster 2007). To counter the criticism that Sixvice delivery and employee focus. At this point, the Sigma simply puts traditional quality managementauthors can only identify the hypotheses regarding practices in a new package, Zu, Fredendall, andthese interrelationships. Further research will quan- Douglas (2008) identified three critical practicestify the nature and direction of these relationships. for Six Sigma: role structure, structured improve- ment procedures, and focus on metrics. SchroederFURTHER DEVELOPMENT et al. (2008) used the grounded theory approachAND RESEARCH DIRECTION to propose an initial definition and theory of Six Sigma. Researchers could take the lead from theAs this stream of research aims to bridge the gap aforementioned stream of research to develop theorybetween academic research and real-world applica- and validate the SQBOK framework.tion, the follow-up work could broadly be classified The impact of these quality areas on perfor-into two categories: academic research and work mance should also be explored. The relationshipaimed at practitioners. Comprehensive data-driven to the impact of service quality knowledge areas onanalysis work will lead to managerial implications the profitability of an organization is another areahelping to improve decision making in the field. for further research. Several studies have been doneSpecifically, the further research should: on the profitability and economic value of service44 QMJ VOL. 20, no. 2/© 2013, ASQ
  12. 12. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK Perspectivevalue to customers (Zeithaml 2000). Prior research specifically in the SQBOK. Healthcare represents ahas focused on testing the causality of the Malcolm large portion of the gross domestic production inBaldrige National Quality Award using structural most OECD countries. Healthcare providers, hospitalsequation modeling (Wilson and Collier 2000). in particular, cover a wide variety of services suchThe EFQM Excellence model was also tested using as emergency room services, surgical procedures,structural equation modeling by Bou-Llusar et al. laboratory testing and analysis, and annual health(2009). Similarly, Kamakura et al. (2002) tested checkups. Similarly, the financial services sectorthe Service Profit Chain model using structural includes transactional services and more customizedmethodology. Alternate methodologies as presented financial portfolio drawing relationships between TQM and a firm’s SQBOK provides a holistic view of service qualityperformance (Powell 1995; Kaynak 2003) can be and broadens the definition of services and servicestudied, and similar work can be done in the area quality. The SQBOK provides a body of knowledgefor service quality to define the link between service representing a unique perspective on the applica-quality and profitability. tion of quality principles. Three types of services The adaptation of the framework can be achieved are recognized in the SQBOK: service in manu-once the relationships and priorities of the knowledge facturing (support services), internal service, andareas and concepts are determined. The adaptation transactional, ongoing and continual service.could be based on the type of services (transactional, Support services or services in manufacturing thatinternal, and ongoing and continual) or by sector. As accompany a product can be equally important asthe framework will be adapted, one should also see the product itself, such as financing (or leasing)new tools and methods being developed that could services in the automotive industry or supply chainbe used as resources by practitioners. Developing a services for a food producer. The work on the SQBOKcomprehensive depository of tools and resources for framework is not finished by any means and doespractitioners is an important dimension of work that require additional work to strengthen the tools andshould be undertaken in the near future. Currently, applications in specific service from product quality literature are used andadapted for service quality environments. However, REFERENCESnew tools should be developed specifically for service Aboelmaged, M. G. 2010. Six Sigma quality: A structured reviewquality environments. and implications for future research. International Journal of Every organization relies on internal (support) Quality & Reliability Management 27, no. 3:268-317.service to carry out day-to-day services. For exam- Antony, J. 2006. Six sigma for service processes. Businessple, a financial services firm may have in-house Process Management Journal 12, no. 2:234-248.customer data processing centers, human resource- Bou-Llusar, J. C., A. B. Escrig-Tena, C. Roca-Puig, and I. Beltran-related processes, and mortgage loan application Martin. 2009. An empirical assessment of the EFQM excellence model: Evaluation as a TQM framework relative to the MBNQAprocesses. Internal services are invisible to customers model. Journal of Operations Management 27, no. 1:1-22.and reside in the background. Quality managers Brady, M. K., and J. J. Cronin. 2001. Some new thoughts on con-need to continually improve the efficiency of these ceptualizing perceived service quality: A hierarchical approach.internal services. Based on the length of the interac- Journal of Marketing 65, no. 3:34-49.tion period, services are categorized as transactional Chase R., and D. M. Stewart. 1994. Make your service fail-safe.and interactional. Many services, such as utilities Sloan Management Review 35, no. 3:35-44.and Internet services, are delivered in a continuous Chen, F. Y., and Y. H. Chang. 2005. Examining airline servicefashion. Prominent service sectors such as health- quality from a process perspective. Journal of Air Transportcare, finance, and call centers are mentioned Management 11, no. 2:79-87. 45
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  14. 14. An Integrated Framework for Service Quality: SQBOK PerspectivePiccotti. J. 2006. Creating a service quality body of knowledge. Zeithaml V. A., A. Parasuraman, and L. L. Berry. 1985. ProblemsMaster’s thesis, California State University-Dominguez Hills. and strategies in services marketing. Journal of Marketing 49:33-46.Powell, T. C. 1995. Total quality management as a competitiveadvantage: A review and empirical study. Strategic Management Zu, X., L. D. Fredendall, and T. J. Douglas 2008. The evolvingJournal 16, no. 1:15-37. theory of quality management: The role of Six Sigma. Journal of Operations Management 26, no. 5:630-650.Rathmell, J. M. 1966. What is meant by services? Journal ofMarketing 30, no. 4:32-36. BIOGRAPHIESRegan, W. J. 1963. The service revolution. Journal of Marketing27, no. 3:57-62. Rajesh Kumar Tyagi is an assistant professor at HEC Montreal, Department of Logistics and Operations Management. TyagiRust, R. T., and R. L. Oliver. 1994. Service quality: New directions teaches service operations, operations management, andin theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. quality management. His current research and consultingRust, R. T., A. J. Zahorik, and T. L. Keiningham. 1995. Return on interests are in the areas of optimal service delivery design,quality (ROQ): Making service quality financially accountable. measurement of service quality, and applications of Six SigmaJournal of Marketing 59, no. 2:58-70. in services sector. He has more than 15 publications in science and technology journals and has presented at various nationalSantos, J. 2003. E-service quality: A model of virtual service quality and international conferences. He is the co-author of Sixdimensions. Managing Service Quality 13, no. 3:233-246. Sigma for Transactions and Service (McGraw-Hill 2005) andSchneider, B., and S. S. White. 2004. Service quality: Research A Complete and Balanced Service Scorecard (Financial Timesperspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. 2008). Tyagi is a Senior ASQ member and SQBOK steering committee member. He obtained his doctorate in engineeringSchroeder, R. G., K. Linderman, C. Liedtke, and A. S. Choo. at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and his MBA from The2008. Six Sigma: Definitions and underlying theory. Journal of Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. HeOperations Management 26, no. 4:536-554. can be reached by email at, N., S. G. Deshmukh, and P. Vrat. 2005. Service quality Nikhil Varma is a doctoral student at HEC Montreal, Departmentmodels: A review. International Journal of Quality & ReliabilityManagement 22, no. 9:913-949 of Logistics and Operations Management. He has a master’s degree in computer engineering from Concordia University,Shostack, G. 1977. Breaking free from product marketing. Montreal, and an MBA from HEC Montreal. He has extensiveJournal of Marketing 41:73-80. experience in project and product management. He has expertSpohrer, J., P. P. Maglio, J. Bailey, and D. Grunhl. 2007. Steps knowledge of enterprise business processes and is proficient intoward a science of service systems. Computer 40, no. 1:71-77. CMM methodologies. He is an active ASQ Student member.Tyagi, R. K. 2011. Measurement in service businesses: Challenges Navneet Vidyarthi is an assistant professor in the Department ofand future directions. Service Systems Implementation: 237-251. Decision Sciences and Management Information Systems at the John Molson School of Business. He joined Concordia UniversityTyagi, R. K., and J. Piccotti. 2012. A service framework. Quality in July 2008. He holds a doctorate degree in managementProgress (October):40-45. sciences with concentration in supply chain and operations man-Tyagi, R. K., and P. Gupta. 2008. A complete and balanced agement from the University of Waterloo. His research interestsservice scorecard: creating value through sustained performance can be broadly categorized as strategic design and tacticalimprovement. United Kingdom: FT Press. planning in logistics and supply chain management with meth- odological interests in large-scale optimization, simulation-basedWilson, D. D., and D. A. Collier. 2000. An empirical investiga- optimization, and meta-heuristics. His works have appeared intion of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award causal Transportation Science, IIE Transactions, International Journal ofmodel. Decision Sciences Journal 31, no. 2:361-383. Production Research and Managerial Auditing Journal, amongZeithaml, V. A. 2000. Service quality, profitability, and the economic others. His teaching interests are in the area of operationsworth of customers: What we know and what we need to learn. management, logistics and supply chain management, andJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science 28, no. 1:67-85. operations research. 47