Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1604-2.ch010
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This chapter begins with a comprehensive list of factors that can drive customization, all of which are linked to the elusive concept of customer perceived quality of a service. Mass customization of products has proven to be one of the most important paradigms of the 20th century’s economies. This chapter argues that the powerhouse of the 21st century will be not physical product mass customization but masses of cheaply and easily customizable e-services, and attempts to predict how all service models and customization paradigms and technologies that are just emerging (social and semantic Web, Internet of Things and others) are going to contribute to the trend for e-service customization. Finally, the chapter compiles a list of “dos’ and ‘don’ts” of e-service customization, and argues that e-service customization is not an end-goal but a means to deliver services that meet the consumers’ quality expectations and the providers’ goals and objectives.
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E-Service Customization Revisited

As stated in the Introduction Chapter, the main aim of this book has been to develop a framework for understanding the emerging phenomenon of e-service customization, and to highlight the critical concepts, methods and technologies, that can make service customization on the Web a reality. In the previous chapters, the book has covered:

  • The defining principles, concepts, and processes of e-service customization. The reasons why service mass customization on the Web is fundamentally different from product mass customization. How both service and product mass customization are the successors to the old-style mass production paradigm. (Chapter 1)

  • Why e-service customization is an essential part of the business strategy for any type of organization-, not just for the service industries. The reasons why e-service customization cannot be an ‘add-on’ feature, but it must be linked directly to business strategy (Chapter 1).

  • The cognitive processes that are at play when a consumer customizes an e-service. How such customization is affected and constrained by the psychological characteristics of the consumers, the context/environment they operate in, and their cognitive limitations and biases. Why these issues must be taken into account by service providers when they design or supply e-services (Chapter 2).

  • A systematic, business driven, methodology for service identification that starts with opportunities analysis and strategy formulation, and involves managers, employees and IT experts. Why information technologies and the needs and priorities of the services sector are closely interdependent and interacting. A modeling approach that draws on the fuzzy cognitive maps that addresses the complex interactions between IT and business in service design (Chapters 5 and 6).

  • Technologies for service customization on the Web that include: service recommender systems, consumer profiling and e-CRM systems, consumer knowledge management using ontologies, fuzzy linguistic systems for capturing customer preferences, flexible and configurable workflow and process management systems (Chapters 2 and 3).

  • Tools that allow consumer driven customization of e-services via service composition. Survey of the state of the art tools, as well as the user requirements for next generation online service customization environment (Chapter 4).

  • How health sectors apply the e-service customization paradigm (Chapter 7).

  • Two case studies in health and banking sectors, (Chapters 8 and 9) that illustrate the methodology and modeling approach discussed in Chapters 5 and 6.

This book has suggested a number of methods about how e-service customization needs to be approached. More importantly, the main lesson from this discussion has been that individuals are not anymore the passive recipients of customized services. They participate as co-creators together with service providers, and customize services in order to meet their personal needs, create value but also for engaging in fulfilling communities.

Customization Technologies for service customization is not an end goal in itself, but a means to help consumers get more benefits out of services that meet their exact needs and requirements. From the providers' perspective, that can mean potential benefits such as increased sales, ability to cross-sell and better customer retention. In general, through customization consumers seek certain quality features in the services they consume. The main quality criteria of services are listed in Table 1.

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