by Merlin Hernandez


Businesses depend on customer satisfaction to meet their strategic goals, and the service design matrix would be of maximum importance as long as it conforms to the needs of the market. One of the more common value creation strategies in recent times is the integration of end users, retailers, vendors, and marketing in strategic partnerships to leverage competitiveness. The strategy blurs the lines of separation among manufacturer, supplier, retailer, and customer through intensive market research, stakeholder participation, and integrative technology to develop a product more acutely suited to market needs. Tangible products then become vehicles for service provision, and service itself becomes the underlying commodity. 

This is especially true in the service industry. The service design matrix is the configuration of technology and organizational networks coming together to satisfy the needs, wants, and aspirations of customers through the quality of delivery. The nature of service delivery is, by definition, one of managing consumer expectations. The symbiotic relationship between service and consumer dictates that the service only has value if it meets the customer need for high quality delivery that satisfies its purpose. It is a relationship where service and consumer exist on a continuum and the service is only produced if it is, at the same time, consumed by the customer e.g. a restaurant meal only exists as a product at the point of consumption – it has no shelf life and cannot be shipped. The experience of the meal remains specific to the moment. 

Of great significance is the relationship between the service systems of the operation and marketing opportunities. Service organizations rely on this service design matrix to gain competitive advantage in the marketspace. Firms need to align their services with the market environment, taking competitive intensity into consideration in order to meet a delivery imperative that increasingly demands service as value-creation. Service systems form part of the value proposition in the transactional relationship between provider and client. There has to be an emphasis on weaving all elements of the service product into customer-based solutions and benefits where service becomes the common denominator of all business exchange systems and processes. 

Each time the service is rendered, it seeks to fulfill a specific range of client expectations that may not be transferable to another client. This makes customer the premier focus of the service design matrix with service delivery options that are flexible, permeable, and highly reactive i.e. characteristics of workers, operations, and innovations must be relative to the degree of customer/service contact, remain clear and self-evident for appropriate application, and is structured to react effectively to changing customer needs and worker requirements. All points in the product-service continuum are designed to dovetail into customer satisfaction 

Close proximity of business functions is another strategy that facilitates tighter control and easier coordination for quick decision-making and response to market information. Additionally, the use of communication technology like MIS systems readily synthesizes vast amounts of information to ensure that the product/service matrix is closely tethered to customer service needs – exploiting trends, product variety, speed to market, accessibility, competitive pricing, good quality etc.