Process Completeness: Strategies for Aligning Service Systems with Customers’ Service Needs

Gabriele Piccoli, Università di Sassari
M. Kathryn Brohman, Queen’s University
Richard T. Watson, University of Georgia
A. Parasuraman, University of Miami

The growth of electronic commerce, coupled with the continuing growth of the service sectors of the global economy, has spawned newfound attention to service systems. However, despite growing attention to IT-enabled customer service, most organizations still struggle with designing and implementing process flows to enable their customer service strategy. In this article we introduce the notion of “process completeness,” which is achieved when a firm’s service delivery system matches the typical customer’s breadth of expectations, and discuss a set of process completeness states and strategies in order to provide a vocabulary and a framework for research and practice concerned with the design of optimal workflow for customer service processes. Based on a set of six case studies, our work shows that identifying the optimal process completeness strategy is necessary for organizations in order to avoid either under- completeness, and customer dissatisfaction, or over-completeness, and an unnecessary depletion of limited resources.


The paper appeared in Business Horizons, Vol. 52, No. 4, July-August 2009, 367-376.