Managing Quality in a Service Context

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: In recent years, service organizations have had to increase the number of offerings they provide. These organizations face difficulties in changing their internal processes to provide high-quality offerings. With the increase in demand for delivered services and competitive organizations from low-cost countries, service organizations currently face several issues. Today’s service organizations combine products and services into a solution to improve their competitiveness. These organizations experience changes in customer expectations depending on what they offer. That is, expectations, demands,  and wishes change depending on the offering that a customer uses. Thus,  service organizations need to know how expectations for quality change based on offerings and how they can work to change certain emphasized quality aspects. Hence, the aim of this licentiate thesis is to contribute to the knowledge of how to manage quality in a service context.This licentiate thesis is based on three different studies. One study is based on a number of self-assessment studies conducted at 138 Swedish service organizations using a total of more than 5,000 respondents. In the second study, data was collected over a five-year period through a literature review, interviews, a document study, and observations to capture the quality profile and associated interventions. The second study was conducted in a service organization in the public transportation industry. In the third study, a literature review was performed to provide theoretical propositions for developing a conceptual model. The conceptual model was built on theories from product quality, service quality, service logic, and solutions.The findings revealed that a service organization could change the performance level of a quality principle if the correct interventions are used. Furthermore, a service organization immature in quality management emphasizes one or two quality principles and, after the initial phase focuses on other principles as well. Therefore, if a service organization wants to change its quality profile pattern, it must change its emphasis on certain norms and principles. A further finding is the proposed solution’s quality concept and its six quality dimensions: (i) reliability, (ii) flexibility, (iii) consistency, (iv) empathy, (v) approachability, and (vi) tangibility. Furthermore, a model connecting the empirical findings in a quality concepts model is proposed. This model shows that the need exists to change work activities if the service  organization changes strategic direction, that is, changes the number of offerings offered.