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International Journal of Inspiration, Resilience & Youth Economy
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Customer participation and the performance of the production process: the case of automobile after-sales service

PP: 1-22
Catherine LANDE, Marianne ABRAMOVICI,
Aims and issues of the communication How the customerís role in the production process is conceived is a central question in services management that can be addressed through the perspective of human resources management (Bowen, 1986) or work analysis (Dujarier, 2008). The concept of customer deviance is then used to examine the role normally prescribed for the customer and situations where the normal process of coproduction fails (Tax et al., 2006). The aim of this communication is to present the initial findings of a study aiming to describe and reveal the customerís real role, the real work of front-office personnel and the comanagement of uncertainties frequently arising in the interaction process (Larson and Bowen, 1989) with the aim of improving the perceived quality of a specific service. Research design and methodology The topic addressed is automobile after-sales services, a strategic business for car manufacturers, both financially and in terms of marketing. The competitive environment in this sector has greatly changed recently due to its liberalization and the evolution of in-car technologies. Improvement in the perceived quality of the interaction between customers and the service provider during after-sales service has become a strategic issue that has in particular led to rethinking the professional training of receiving agents. It is a matter today of supporting them in redesigning this interaction so as to make it more efficient. For this reason we defend the idea that a more detailed understanding of what the customer really does in this situation is an essential first step. Results of the research The first stage should thus allow us to understand: the tasks assigned to the customer according to the organizationís mechanisms and the technical mechanisms defined by the manufacturer; the tasks assigned to the customer according to the description by receiving agents as to the normal role of the customer and deviance from it; the tasks assigned to the receiving agent and the expected flexibility with regard to customers; the skills required by the customer to successfully implement these tasks. Implications and limitations of the study Automobile after-sales service emerges as a sector that is emblematic of services in which, because they are hard to evaluate by the customer prior to using the service, the interaction between the customer and the service provider is the moment of truth for understanding and assessing the service provided, which is, moreover, carried out and produced in the absence of the customer. It is also a sector that is strengthening the standardization of its interaction process with the customer. These characteristics make customer management a key issue for these services. It is thus reasonable to hope that the in-depth analysis of this sector, which has to date been little studied, will contribute to the analysis of co-production and customer deviance.

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