Examining the application of six sigma in the service exchange

Breffni M. Noone, Karthik Namasivayam, Heather Spitler Tomlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to explore the role of six sigma in the assembly of service components, during the service exchange. Specifically, it seeks to examine whether applying six sigma principles to customer-facing processes enhances customer satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach: The paper uses a field study to examine the relationship between conformance with a standardized service assembly process and customer satisfaction. Data were collected over a two-month period using participant observation at the front desk of a leading hotel, and were analyzed using logistic regression. Findings: The results of the study provide a basis for discussion of the issues associated with applying six sigma to the service assembly process. The results suggest that the application of six sigma to customer-facing processes does not improve customer satisfaction. Originality/value: Much of the documented success of six sigma has focused on its application to processes with minimum or no customer involvement. In contrast, this paper focuses on the application of six sigma in the service exchange, which typically encompasses a high degree of customer involvement. The paper also adopts a customer-centric view and differentiates two different processes in a service exchange. This novel view suggests fresh theorizing and research directions. The intent is to encourage discourse among academics and practitioners regarding the applicability of six sigma in a service setting, and identify avenues for future research in this domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-293
Number of pages21
JournalManaging Service Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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