The service organization establishes the environment for the service encounter. The interaction between customer and contact personnel occurs within the context of an organization’s culture as well as its physical surroundings.
Culture is a pattern of beliefs and expectations that is shared by the organization’s members and produces norms that powerfully shape the behavior of individuals or groups in organizations. The founders and/or senior managers of a service organization establish a climate or culture that prescribes a norm of behavior or set of values to guide employee decision making in the firm. An organization benefits from a shared set of values, because contact personnel are empowered to make decisions without the need for the traditional level of supervision, which assumes that only management is vested with authority to act on behalf of the organization.
Empowerment There is a belief that people want to do good work and will do so if given the opportunity. Consequently, companies should (1) to invest in people as much as, or more than, in machines; (2) use technology to support contact personnel rather than to monitor or replace them; (3) consider the recruitment and training of contact personnel as critical to the firm’s success; and (4) link compensation to performance for employees at all levels. In an empowered organization, a much-reduced middle management no longer has the traditional supervisory role; instead, middle managers become facilitators for the frontline or contact personnel. More important, investment in computer information systems is necessary to supply the frontline personnel with the ability to resolve problems as they arise and to ensure a quality service encounter.
Control Systems There are four organizational control systems that encourage creative employee empowerment:
- The belief system is facilitated by a well-articulated organizational culture (key issue is to identify core values and contribute).
- A boundary system defines limits to employee initiative without creating an environment of negative thinking that can be generated by using standard operating procedures.
- Diagnostic systems define measurable goals to achieve.
- The interactive control system is most appropriate for delivering creative solutions for its customers (ability to innovate and create).
Empowered contact personnel must be motivated, informed, competent, committed and well-trained. Frontline personnel should exhibit the ability to take responsibility, manage themselves, and respond to pressure from customers.
– Excerpt from James A. Fitzsimmons and Mona J. Fitzsimmons