A system is a set of parts that are connected in order to achieve an end. In other words, a system is a set of functions, activities, and structures that interact to achieve a goal. A system has several characteristics, such as

- Synergy: The interconnection of the parts in a system makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts

- Adaptive behavior: A system develops unpredictable behaviors that are rooted in the dynamic of interactions of its parts, which is called adaptive behavior

- Hierarchy: There is a hierarchy among the parts of a system

- Boundary: A system has boundaries delimiting where the eternal environment starts and where the system ends

- Openness: A system maintains interactions with its environment


A customer-centric service design outlines guidelines that define functions, roles, responsibility, chain of decision making and approval of requests, definition of clients, conditions of eligibility, validation or verification of eligibility, exceptions in conditions of eligibility, definition of service packages, assessment of client satisfaction, and continuing quality improvement. As the term indicates, a customer-centric service design is a service delivery system that focuses on providing the best quality service possible to customers or clients or the service target, based on a service concept, a service decision path, service sustainability, and service quality. Figure 18.1 illustrates the key factors of a generic customer-centric service design.

Service Target

The service target simply refers to the clients or the customers who will be beneficiaries of a service delivery system. The service target must be clearly defined. Agents in a service delivery system should have clear guidelines that answer questions such as:

- Who is eligible for services? What are the social, geographic, psychological, or demographic characteristics?

- What are the conditions of eligibility?

- What information or documents are required to validate eligibility?

- What are the circumstances under which exceptions can be made?

- Who can approve special eligibility?

Service delivery system for sustainability.

FIGURE 18.1 Service delivery system for sustainability.

Service Concept

The service concept describes the unit of service or package of services offered to customers or clients. The service concept is part of the identity of a delivery system. The service concept is the assistance that helps meet a client s needs (e.g., financial counseling, food pantry, job placement). The service concept is what an organization is known for. The service concept should be defined in a way that is comprehensible to potential clients or customers. A clear service concept can help avoid frustration. When the expectations of services are clearly defined, clients are satisfied if they received exactly what they were promised. A unit or package of service may not completely meet their needs, but they will be satisfied with the service and service delivery if the concept matches the service received.

Service Decision Path

The service decision path includes planning, coordination, and provision. An effective service decision path will answer the questions: Decision about what service? Why should the decision be made? Who will make the decision? When will the decision be made? How will the decision be made? Where will the decision be made? More specifically, the service decision path indicates who is doing what in the service delivery process. In other words, the service decision path answers questions such as (a) who is involved in service provision? (b) What is the level of competence for the people who are involved? (c) What are the levels of efficiency and effectiveness expected from the people who are involved? (d) How will their performance be measured? (e) What is the level of involvement? The levels of involvement can be:

1. Collection (information, requests)

2. Compilation (compilation, categorization)

3. Validation (ensuring that eligibility criteria are met)

4. Intermediary approval (any approval that is not final, prerequisites for further approval are met)

5. Final approval (final decision that authorizes service provision to client or customer)

Service Sustainability

The ability to continue to provide services over time is very critical for a nonprofit organization. This is called "service sustainability." A service is sustainable if it satisfies a continuous need, and is efficient and self-sufficient. Therefore, a customer-centered service delivery system should be able to collect information that documents or data that provide evidence of quality, efficiency, and self-sufficiency, and analyze the sustainable of the service concept and service decision path.

Service Quality

The main purpose of a customer-centric service design is to provide quality services to clients. Quality services involve not only the service concept, but also the service decision path. In fact, an organization may have a great service concept and deliver poor quality services if the service decision path is not competent and efficient. As a result, a service design should answer questions such as (a) What are the criteria of quality services? (b) What are the levels of quality? (c) How do clients assess service quality? (d) How can assessment of quality help streamline the service design for continuous quality improvement? The quality of service delivery influences donor and community support to contribute money to support the vision and mission of a nonprofit organization. Without donor and community support, an organization can close its doors and cease to provide key needed services.

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