Designing Lean Processes with Improved Service Quality: An Application in Financial Services

Quality Management Journal vol. 24 issue 1 - January 2017

Abstract: [This abstract is based on the authors' abstract.] In this study, the authors focus on how service providers can meet rising customer value expectations through service process designs that are not only lean but also with high service quality. The authors consider two design approaches: one with separate (decoupled) front-office and back-office operations and one that integrates the front-office and backoffice operations with a combined workforce. They develop a decision support framework to compare these two approaches in terms of both cost and service level. The integrated design approach, based on a constant staffing model, takes a systems perspective to designing the service delivery process, thereby creating opportunities to share employee resources between front-office and back-office activities due to their differing time sensitivities. Using data from a community bank case study, the authors find that the integrated design is both leaner and has a higher service level than the decoupled design. Simulation results over various scenarios confirm that the integrated design achieves better performance than the decoupled design over a wide range of parameters found in services with both front-office and back-office operations, although the decoupled design is better for some settings. This suggests that the authors’ decision support tool can help service providers design lean service processes with improved service quality tailored to their own operating environments.

Keywords: Service quality; Cost modeling; Cost of quality; Decision support systems; Simulations; Financial industry; Case study

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