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Structural Relationships between Work Environment and Service Quality Perceptions as a Function of Customer Contact Intensity: Implications for Human Service Strategy

JHHSA, Vol. 32 No. 2, (2009)

This study assesses the importance of customer-contact intensity at the service encounter level as a determinant of service quality assessments. Using data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it shows that performance-driven human resources practices play an important role as determinants of employee customer orientation and service capability in both high-contact (outpatient healthcare) and low-contact (benefits claim processing) human service contexts. However, there existed significant differences across service delivery settings in the salience of customer orientation and the congruence between employee and customer perceptions of service quality, depending on the intensity of customer contact. In both contexts, managerial attention to high-performance work systems and customer-orientation has the potential to favorably impact perceptions of service quality, amplify consumer satisfaction, and enhance operational efficiency.

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