The actions taken by the management team to rectify most of the problems could be seen as very functionalistic. Little or no attention was given to softer issues like culture, motivation, commitment and trust, although one can argue that the actions they took definitely contributed to improving, for example, trust. Furthermore, the question could be asked whether the management team has really achieved quality service. To answer this question, it is important to briefly analyze the opinions of some researchers about what is meant by quality service.

Although much is available in the literature about how one should see or approach the issue of quality service, many of these discussions are also based on a very functionalistic approach or belief. Many discussions are based on the principle that one should follow a certain recipe or model or that the "doing right" of certain important things will ensure that a "quality" product will be provided. In the discussion that follows, functionalistic as well as non-functionalistic ideas are given and criticized to get a better perspective of the issue in terms of what the approach should be for delivering/providing quality service and support by participants working together in an IT-end user relationship environment.

Cortada (1995) states that there are many definitions of quality; however, they all accept the notion that quality is defined by the customer. Although Cortada describes a large number of functionalistic ideas about how quality could be achieved, he also introduces some important (non-functionalistic) philosophical principles in this regard which are of importance to the IT-end user relationship environment. He states that different companies craft their definitions around customers' perception of quality, rather than just performance to a set of standards. Definitions extend beyond quality products to quality in processes. Personal contact with the customer will for instance define quality in the mind of the customer. The same applies to a fellow employee. If the service an end user gets from your help desk is a positive experience, a quality service has been rendered. In other words: "Quality is created at the moment of performance, not in a factory designing in functional quality or just in the programming department" (Cortada, 1995).

This is sanctioned by Kinlaw (1989), stating that: "Systems do not produce quality, people do." In this regard Ciborra (1993) states that quality of a durable product can only be appreciated by using the product.

What is received is often the focus of quality, but so too is how someone receives quality—a crucial distinction for service organizations such as an IT department. In this regard many companies have crafted definitions which indicate that the view of the end user is eventually the dominant factor determining whether quality service is received or not. In this regard it is worth noting the words of the vice president of customer service at the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company describing what IS had done for her: "We have set standards to which others in the financial services industry can aspire. And, we have changed the way in which information technology is used to provide world-class service."

The core message in the literature on the topic of quality service and support, and which is sanctioned by practical experience, is that IT professionals who are on the front line working with end users (customers) should be both effective and efficient in their approach when executing service and support activities. In other words, quality service and support are imbedded in the principle of "doing the right things in the right way." The unfortunate side of this principle, however, is that the negative effects of an error in the action of giving service and support normally outweigh most or all of the positive results that have been gained by previous actions.

"All too often a small error makes an out-of-proportion effect on the quality of the whole. The drive to do everything well gives a sharp edge. Successful managers relentlessly search for better ways to do things, and they constantly build pride in the job. They adopt the value: do things right" (Woodcock & Dave, 1989).

The biggest challenge for the Cooperation Bank is to keep on building trust among end users and to ensure that all IT professionals stay committed to "doing right." The case is in fact an illustration of how difficult and time consuming it is to "correct" the damage that has been done because of "doing wrong" in the first place. In this regard Morris (1994) states, "The purpose of a business is to create a customer." These were the words of Peter Drucker in The Practice of Management. What is striking about this quotation, according to Morris, is that it was written more than 40 years ago. Drucker further states that the customer is the only reason for a business to exist. The essence of this message holds the philosophy of what is meant by service and support—if a company does not allocate and manage the necessary resources to give customers the service and support they need and ask for, those customers will seek help and support from somewhere else.

"Companies must learn to set management priorities, define strategies and allocate resources to hold on to their customer asset base" (Morris, 1994).

Annals of Cases on Information Technology
SQL Tips & Techniques (Miscellaneous)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 367 © 2008-2017.
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