Service Operations Management

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The article “Customer Service and Operations Management in Service Businesses” by Colin G. Armistead written in 1989 explains in a short introduction the rise and importance of the service sector and then further describes the nature of services. To define customer service which is affecting the overall quality of service, Armistead introduces six dimensions. Three firm- (flexibility, fault-freeness, framework of time) and three soft dimensions (style, steering, safety). Furthermore, Armistead presents a positioning map which works as a tool to put these dimensions into context. On the basis of this map, organizations can position themselves and thus see how good their overall performance is. Also they can learn whether they
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Colin G. Armistead introduces in his article six dimensions that can be seen as a guideline for service operations managers to ensure high quality service standards. First of all, his research is based on overall and general difficulties that need to be discussed in operations management.
Armistead highlights the outstanding importance of the customer in the whole service process. In his eyes, there is a constant interaction between the customer and the service personal through “face to face interaction” (Armistead, 1989).
The research is based on general key aspects of service operations management. Due to the fact that services are mostly recognized in a bundle, the author also refers to the servuction model and he emphasizes the inherent part of the customer in a service process (E.G. Slack, 2007). In the main part of the article, Armistead describes six dimensions which are divided into three soft – and three firm dimensions.
The firm dimensions (Flexibility / Fault-freeness / Framework of time) can be easily measured and try to summarize the influences that can be observed and easily classified by the service company. For instance, these dimensions give an answer to the availability of the service, the correctness of information and the ability of the service firm to adopt new service
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Last but not least, “Complacent Technocrats & Bureaucrats” contrary focus on the firm dimensions and sometimes ignore the soft dimensions of customer service. Going back to the principles of service operations management it is clear that one of the main goals is to reach customers’ expectations. With introducing six dimensions of customer service, Armistead is trying to make clear that service organizations need to find their position “according to the attention they give to firm and soft dimensions.” (Armistead, 1989)
Especially this can be easily adopted to common problems in the service industry, but it is important to bear in mind, that you can only position your company if you understand the service dimensions.
In addition to the positioning map, the author is also introducing an “operational audit sheet”. The sheet is a template for service organizations to clearly identify their strengths and weaknesses in meeting the six dimensions. Thus, the company first need to introduce an operational audit, who is responsible for checking and evaluating the overall

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