Title: Six Sigma for services: a service quality framework

Authors: Joao S. Neves, Behnam Nakhai

Addresses: Department of Management, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ 08628-0718, USA. ' Department of Business Administration, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Millersville, PA 17551-0302, USA

Abstract: Six Sigma is an effective quality improvement methodology that has been applied numerous times in the service industry. Alas, most of the successful applications reported in the literature focus on manufacturing-like settings, i.e. highly repetitive services with low behaviour and psychological components. This suggests that either Six Sigma is not effective in many service settings, or that other methodologies provide better results. This paper reviews the literature on Six Sigma service applications and analyses the research findings on service quality. Services have specific characteristics which warrant a differentiated approach; applying the Six Sigma tools used in manufacturing to services will not produce optimal results. We propose a Six Sigma methodology that is based on a broad understanding of customer satisfaction and on the five gaps of the service quality model. The quality function deployment model and the define measure analyse improve control process are adapted to better suit the specific nature of services.

Keywords: Six Sigma; service industry; DMAIC; define measure analyse improve control; customer satisfaction; critical to quality; CTQ; service quality function deployment; quality improvement; low behaviour components; highly repetitive services; low psychological components; productivity; quality management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPQM.2011.040544

International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management, 2011 Vol.7 No.4, pp.463 - 483

Published online: 02 Jun 2011 *

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