A systems approach inquiry into the challenges of service management : a study of the University of KwaZulu-Natal student administrative service system.
Dludla, Sifiso V.
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Service management is a fascinating and complex subject. It is fascinating because, even entities that manufacture products get concerned about customer service. Management scientists such as Edward Deming developed a concept known as total quality management (TQM), which has been implemented in manufacturing companies mostly, and some of those companies include those discussed by Robbins & Decenzo (2001 : 65), namely ; General Motors, Ford, & Daimler-Chrysler. This concept TQM is implemented in order to make the ultimate customer happy and thus creating customer loyalty. If TQM was implemented only for the purpose of quality in products and not involve those employees in support departments such as Finance, Human Resources, Marketing & Sales, Customer Care/Enquiries, within one company, such an endeavour will be rendered ineffective and non-systemic. The service industry is however still lagging behind with it's own innovations. We still yet to see strategies spawned from the service sector. Service in this instance refers to the 'non-product' sector. It is for this reason that this study focuses on service management in the service industry, to make a clear distinction. Service management is complex. because, as it is argued in this study, it is intangible. The definitions of service developed by many authors such as Gronroos (1990), van Looy et al (2003), and Fitzsimmons & Fitzsimmons (2004), state that service is an activity of more or less intangible nature. They further say that service involves the interaction between a customer and service employees. This is what makes it complex. Service is about people. Zeithaml & Bitner (2000) pointed it out that "the employees delivering the service frequently are the service in the customer's eyes.."(pg. 13). Human activity systems, are typically complex, and as such service is likely to be complex because it involves human interaction. Such a complex system is likely to be characterized by complex phenomena. Complex systems are best studied through systems approach. It was in this light that this study is based on a systems inquiry.