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Customers Roles in

Service Delivery

# 11

Importance of Customers in Service
Customers Role.
Self-Service Technologies The
Ultimate in Customer Participation.
Strategies for Enhancing Customer

Importance of Customers in
Service Delivery

Importance of Customers in Service

Delivery: Customers participation at some level
is unavoidable in service delivery. In many
situations employees and customers interact to
produce the ultimate service outcome.
Customers are necessary to the production
process of service organizations. Consider the
service provided by cruise ship company. The
actors (ship personnel) provide the service
through interaction with their passengers and
among each others.

Importance of Customers in
Service Delivery

Customer Receiving Service:

Customers who are unprepared in terms of
what they want to order can waste the service
representatives time as they seek advice.
Similarly, shoppers who are not prepared with
their credit card numbers can put the
representative on hold while they search for
their cards or retrieve them from their cars.
Meanwhile, other customers and calls are left
unattended, causing longer wait times and
possible dissatisfaction.

Importance of Customers in
Service Delivery

Fellow Customers: In many service contexts,

customers receive the service simultaneously
with other customers or must wait their turn
while other customers are being served. In both
cases, fellow customers are present in the
service environment and can effect the service
process. Fellow customers can either enhance
or detract customer satisfaction. Some of the
ways fellow customers can negatively affect the
service experience are by exhibiting disturbing
behaviours, causing excessive delays.

Importance of Customers in
Service Delivery

In restaurants, hotels, and airplanes customers

are sometimes unrealistic as they receive the
service, like crying babies, smoking customers,
and loud unruly groups can be disturbing for
fellow customers. The customer is disappointed
through no direct fault of the provider. In other
cases, overly demanding customers, even
legitimate problems can cause a delay for
others. Excessive crowding or overuse of a
service can cause negative customer

Importance of Customers in
Service Delivery

Customers are being served simultaneously but

who have incompatible needs can negatively
affect each other. This situation can occur in
restaurants, college class rooms, hospitals, and
any service establishments in which multiple
segments are served simultaneously. In some
situations customers may actually help each
other achieve service outcomes. The success
of weight watcher organization depends
significantly on the company and support
provided by each other.

Customers Role
The study found that customers increased the
satisfaction of others by having friendly
conversations while waiting in line, by taking
photos, by assisting with children, and by
returning dropped or lost items.
Customers Roles: This section examines in
detail three major roles played by customers in
service delivery: customers are productive
resource, customers as contributors to quality
and satisfaction; and customers as competitors.

Customers Role
Customers as Productive Resources:
Service customers have been referred to as
partial employees of the organization. Some
management experts have suggested if
customers contribute effort and time to the
service production process, they should be
considered as a part of organization.
Customers inputs can effect the organizations
productivity. Customer participation in service
production raise a number of issues for

Customers Role
Because customers can influence both quality
and quantity of production, some experts
believe the delivery system should be isolated
as much as possible from customer inputs in
order to reduce the uncertainty they can bring
into the production process. This view sees
customers as the major source of uncertainty in
the timing of their demand and uncontrollability
of their attitudes and action. The logical
conclusion is that any service activities that do
not require customer contact should be

Customers Role
performed away from customers. The less
direct contact there is between the customer
and the service production system, the greater
possibility for the system to operate at peak
Other experts believe that services can be
delivered most efficiently if customers are truly
viewed as partial employees and their coproduction roles are designed to maximize their
contributions to the service creation process.
The logic behind this view is

Customers Role
organizational productivity can be increased if
customers learn to perform service related
activities. For example, when self-service
gasoline stations first came into being,
customers were asked to pump their own gas.
With customers performing this task, fewer
employees were needed and overall
productivity of gas stations improved. Similarly,
the introduction of many automated airline
services such as baggage check-in and self
ticketing are intended to speed up the process

Customers Role
for customers while freeing employees for other
tasks. Organizational productivity is increased
by using customers as resource to perform
tasks previously completed by employees.
Although organizations obtain obvious
productivity benefits by involving customers as
co-producers, customers do not always like to
accept their new roles, especially when they
perceive the purpose to the bottom line cost
savings for the company.

Customers Role
If customers see no clear benefit to being
involved in coproduction (e.g., lower prices,
quicker access, etc.), then they are likely to
dislike and resist their coproduction roles.
Customers as Contributors to Service Quality.
Research suggests that customers who believe
they have done their part to be effective in
service interactions are more satisfied with the
service. Interestingly, all those customers who
participate in service delivery frequently blame
themselves (at least partially) when things go wrong.

Customers Role
Customers as Competitors: If self service
customers can be viewed as resources of the
firm, or as partial employees, they could in
some cases partially perform the service or
perform the entire service for themselves and
not need the provider at all. Thus customers in
a sense are competitors of the companies that
supply the services. Weather to produce a
service for themselves (internal exchange) for
example, child care, home maintenance, car
repair or have someone else provide the

Customers Role
for them (external exchange).
Similar internal versus external exchange
decisions are made by organizations. Firms
frequently choose to outsource service activities
such as payroll, data processing, research,
accounting and maintenance. They find that it is
advantageous to focus on their core business
and leave these support services to other with
greater expertise. Alternately, a firm may decide
stop purchasing services externally and bring
the service production process in-house.

Customers Role
Weather household or a firm chooses to
produce a particular service for itself or contract
externally for the service depends on various
following factors.
Expertise capacity: The likelihood of producing
the service internally is increased if the
household or firm possesses the specific skills
and knowledge, time and available resources
needed to produce it.
Economic rewards: The economic advantages
or disadvantages of a particular exchange

Customers Role
decision will be influential in choosing between
internal and external options. The actual
monetary costs of the two options will influence
the decision.
Trust: In this context trust means the degree of
confidence the household or firm has in various
exchange options. The decision will depend to
some extent on the level of self-trust in
producing the service versus trust of others.

Self-Service Technologies-The
Ultimate in Customer
Self-Service Technologies: Self service
technologies (SSTs) are services produced
entirely by the customers without any direct
involvement or interaction with firms
A creation of New SSts: Advances in
technologies, particularly the Internet, have
allowed the introduction of a wide range of self
service technologies.

Self-Service Technologies-The
Ultimate in Customer
These technologies have grow up as
companies see the potential cost savings, and
efficiencies that can be achieved, like potential
sales growth, increased customer satisfaction,
and competitive advantage. The partial list of
some of the self-service technologies available
to consumers includes.
ATMs, Pay at the pump, Airline check-in, Various vending
machines, Self-scanning at retail stores, Internet banking,
Package tracking, Internet shopping, Internet information
search, Hotel check-in and checkout etc.

Self-Service Technologies-The
Ultimate in Customer
Figure 13.2.
Services production range



Gas station illustration

1- Customer pumps gas and pays at the pump with automation.
2- Customer pumps gas and goes inside to pay attendant.
3- Customer pumps gas and attendant takes payment at the
4- Attendant pumps gas and customer pays at the pump with
5- Attendant pumps the gas and customer goes inside to pay

Self-Service Technologies-The
Ultimate in Customer
The rapid creation of new self service

technologies is taking place for several

reasons. Many times firms are attracted
by the cost savings that they expect by
shifting customers to technology based
automated systems and away from
expensive personal service. If cost saving
is the only reason for introduction of SST
and if customer sees no apparent
benefits, the SST is likely to fail. Customer

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
Define Customers Jobs: In developing
strategies for addressing customer
involvement in service delivery, the
organization first determine what type of
participation it wants from customers,
while identifying the current level of
customer participation that can serve as a
starting point. Customers role may be
partially determined by the nature of
service. The service may require only the

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
from the customer in the form of effort or
information like a haircut or tax
preparation, or it require the customer to
actually co-create the service outcome
like fitness training etc. Experts have
suggested that higher level of customer
participation are strategically advisable
when service production and delivery are
inseparable, cross-selling (selling additional
products or services to the existing customers)

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
Alternately, the organization may decide
it wants to reduce customer participation
due to all the uncertainties it causes.
In such situations the strategy may be to
isolate all but essential tasks, keeping
customers away from service facility.

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
Individual Differences: Not Everyone
wants to Participate: In customers job it
is important to remember that not
everyone will want to participate. Some
customer segments enjoy self-service,
whereas others prefer to have the service
performed entirely for them. In health
care, some patients wants lots of
information and want to be involved in
their own diagnoses and treatment

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
and purchase options now available via
the Internet, many customers still prefer
human high contact service delivery
rather than self-service option. Often an
organization can customize its services to
fit the needs of these different segments,
those who want to participate and those
who prefer little involvement. Banks
customize their services by offering both
automated self-service options and

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
begins the process of educating
customers for their
roles, it must attract the right customers
to fill those roles. The expected roles and
responsibilities of customers should be
clearly communicated in advertising,
personal selling, and other company
Educate and Train Customers to Perform
Effectively: Customers need to be

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
know about the organizational values,
develop the
abilities necessary to function as required
and understand what is expected of them,
and acquire the skills and knowledge to
interact with employees and other
customers. Customer education programs
can take the form of formal orientation
Reward Customers for Their

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
control over the delivery process, time
savings, monetary savings, or
psychological or physical benefits. For
instance, some CPA (Certified Public
Accountant) firms have clients complete
extensive forms before they meet with
their accountants. If the forms are
completed the CPAs will have less work to
do and the clients will be rewarded with
fewer billable hours. Those clients who

Strategies for Enhancing

Customer Participation
ATM (automated teller machine)
customers who perform banking services
for themselves are also rewarded through
greater access to the bank, in terms of
both location and times. In health care
context, patients who perform their roles
effectively are likely to be rewarded with
better health or quicker recovery. Since
long, airlines have offered price discounts
for passengers who ordered tickets online