Understanding Solution Quality

Detta är en avhandling från Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Sammanfattning: The integration of services and products into solutions can open up new business opportunities for firms. This thesis concerns how firms can provide solutions that are perceived as high quality. Solutions are often provided over several years, which implies a changed customer relationship compared to product provisions. Since the solution aims to support the customer’s activities, firms face new challenges when introducing solutions. One challenge is to integrate all components and activities of the solution, and simultaneously support the customer’s activities. In addition, the firm must ensure that the solution and all of its parts are of high quality.Most of the existing research on quality is related to the management of a firm’s internal activities and the interaction during exchange. Within the research on quality, customer orientation means that a firm should manage the relevant product or service to meet customer requirements. When this is achieved, the product or service is of high quality. Since solutions are seen as services and products that are integrated as an outcome, as well as a customer relational process that aims to support the customer’s activities, firms have little to learn from previous research about the quality of solutions.The aim of this thesis is to increase knowledge about how to manage solution quality. The thesis combines insights from research on quality with research on solutions and servitization. Three research questions are answered. The first question concerns the content of solution quality; the second deals with how firms can, with support from interventions, meet the new challenges that arise from solution provision; and the third question concerns how customers can be involved to achieve solution quality. The research questions are answered through five papers based on literature studies and empirical data. The papers contribute to an increased knowledge of solution quality and how firms can work to achieve it.The results of the thesis suggest that solution quality is built on seven quality dimensions: reliability, communicability, internal consistency, empathy, approachability, tangibility, and adaptability. In addition, knowledge of processes and customer relationships are two prerequisites for the concept. These dimensions and prerequisites are supported by interventions that can provide a change. However, it has become evident that whatever intervention is used must be related to the dimensions that are supposed to be improved. Furthermore, customer involvement is argued to be an intervention to support the prerequisites for solution quality, especially during the solution  development. The results of this thesis extend the research on quality by increasing the knowledge of the solution quality concept and by changing the view of customers and their involvement during solution development.

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