Developing operational understanding of service quality through a simulation environment Conference Paper uri icon


  • Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to articulate the challenges of learning and improving in service delivery systems – that present managers with imperfect information, confounded variables, and tightly coupled interactions between operational and psychological factors – and present a simulator to assist managers to overcome these challenges. Design/methodology/approach – After reviewing the literature on “learning from simulations” and the main challenges of learning in a service environment, the paper presents the assumptions underlying the service quality management simulator, its interface, and protocols to use it that have proven effective. Findings – It is possible to assist managers to develop operational understanding – what to do, when and how much of it to do – about the drivers of service quality using a simulation environment. Research limitations/implications – In its present form, the simulator only takes a functional definition of service quality and captures the relationships in a business-to-consumer service environment. These shortcomings suggest future expansions to the theory. Also, while anecdotal evidence is reported of the benefits using the simulator, quantifying these benefits remains a challenge for future research. Practical implications – The ability to customize the simulator's parameters to represent specific service settings makes it a powerful tool for operating managers facing some of the challenges described by the theory. Originality/value – This paper documents, in a non-technical way, the elements a set of relationships that has been shown to confuse managers and cause erosion of service quality and describes the simulator's uses and benefits in a pedagogical environment. © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

author list (cited authors)

  • Oliva, R., & Bean, M.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008 11:11 AM