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Indian industries can gauge the quality of the service provided to the customers: Dr A Parasuraman

Published: The New Indian Express  | Date :  August 12, 2019

Recently, IFIM Business School launched the Index of Service Excellence in India (iSEI) and unveiled the IFIM-AIM Parasuraman Centre of Service Excellence under the guidance of Dr A Parasuraman from America's Miami Business School, University of Miami. This project, undertaken by the Bengaluru-based B-School in association with the Academy of Indian Marketing (AIM), will help businesses meet customers’ preconceived notions, thereby delivering quality service, states Dr Parasuraman, "This project will not only help industries but also benefit academia and the government to improve the quality of service both in private and public sectors. It is the first of its kind implemented in India and we aim to implement many such projects through the IFIM-AIM Parasuraman Centre of Service Excellence." Experts from the interview:

1. Could you explain what the Index of Service Excellence is? Who would find it useful?
The concept is based on the SERVQUAL Model which is based on my research to understand the quality of service provided by the industries. When consumers evaluate the service in any business sector, it is based on five major dimensions including tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. The methodology helps you know what the customers expect in terms of good service from an excellent industry in relation to what they get. There are scores for each of these dimensions and when they are aggregated, you get the total score. And this is what we call the Index of Service Excellence. For each company, we come up with a score ranging from 50 to 100. There are multiple questionnaires for the five dimensions that I mentioned and these are answered by the customers. We analyse the data acquired from the customers and come up with the scores. It's like a mark sheet generated for every company to know where they stand in terms of competition and customer's choice.

2. How is it going to help the industries and academia?
Till date, there has been no such sort of index for service industries to help them find out where they stand. But this will help them know their strengths and weaknesses. As part of my research, I also found out that there are several internal deficiencies in a company that can result in bad service or failure. We have documented all that during the research. If the industries are curious enough, then they will try to find the solution to their failure.

In terms of academia, it creates a body of knowledge. Essentially, students understand how to structure a problem, research methodologies, collect data, analyse it and bring out the results. By taking up this project, they are exposed to a service orientation. They also understand the importance of coming face-to-face with the customer. Apart from this, they get to work with acclaimed scholars. And the project is not just limited to IFIM Business School, students across all Indian institutions can contribute to the data to calculate the trends.

3. Did you conduct a pilot study to check the reliability of the Index of Service Excellence?

Yes, this concept was implemented in two business sectors namely Retail Banking and E-Commerce. By implementing this, companies will be able to check their benchmark not only with their competitors but with other sectors also. Eventually, as the data gets collected and the concept gets refined, it can be implemented to check the service quality across all sectors in India.

4. What was the result of the pilot?

When we implemented the concept in the two sectors, we were able to find out that they have the same scores on a scale of 50 to 100. I would say that these reputed companies are doing well on an average level. With these scores, we were also able to find out that millennials feel that their expectations are not met. To figure out the reason behind this, we need to collect more data. That is where students are involved. Another aspect we discovered was that the satisfaction score of customers comes down as the relationship progresses. We realised that to acquire new customers, companies tend to give less attention or offers to their old or permanent customers, thus dulling the relationship.

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