Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rethinking Service Delivery

Reinventing service delivery requires a new way of thinking about service and challenging basic service assumptions. A paper by Ramdas, et. al. (2012) uses four years of information in healthcare and finance to find four conceptual areas where improvements can be found. Managers can look at the four areas defined below and seek to redefine them for greater service delivery.

The Structure of Interaction: Think of the way in which information is transferred and combined for customers. Is there a way to raise the value to the customer by adjusting how and what type of information they receive? For example, do healthcare patients need more information, relevant information, or interconnected information? Too much information will create noise in their understanding; relevant information will help them understand their condition; while connected information will help them receive better services.

The Service Boundary:  Question the boundaries of services and try and determine if there are better ways to use them. For example, if patients with similar problems are grouped, offered additional information, and provided with guidance they may receive more effective services. If the service becomes more effective and customers evaluate them higher, then you have a winning combination. 

The Allocation of Service Tasks:  Understanding who is fulfilling the service requirements and why they are doing so is important. If the employees you have hired are not qualified to deliver services or you are being wasteful with resources then the service task paradigm should be reconsidered. For example, a doctor who spends a great of his time in paperwork versus actual medical practice is wasting higher order skills on lower order efforts.

The Delivery Location: The delivery of services can be expensive and should be rethought. Many companies have developed service delivery around their needs versus around their customers and this has impacted sales. Sometimes moving online, allowing for home delivery, or having better support within existing services can be beneficial. For example, a proportion of people prefer online banking and forcing them to drive to a physical location is frustrating. Yet this doesn’t mean physical locations should be thrown out but they could be redesigned to focus on core services.

The four areas are only focal points for reviewing and evaluating current service delivery. There are many places where small and large changes can occur. To revamp service requires rethinking the entire service process from the customer’s vantage point while not forgetting the operational and financial constraints of service delivery. 

Kamalini, R. et. al. (2012). 4 ways to reinvent service delivery. Harvard Business Review

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