International Journal of Service
Vol. 13 No. 1, 2002, pp. 47-68.
# MCB UP Limited, 0956-4233
Leveraging technology to
improve field service
School of Management, Binghamton University, State University of
New York, Binghamton, New York, USA
AJ Palumbo School of Business Administration, Duquesne University,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and
School of Business, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, USA
Keywords Technology, Service, Service operations, Productivity, Customer satisfaction
Abstract The primary objective of this paper is to propose a theoretical framework for
assessing the role and influence of technology in creating an effective field service organization.
We examine the role of technology in the context of managing relationships among the company,
its employees and customers. Using the analogy of a country managing its foreign affairs, we
suggest that consistent and concurrent attention to carrying out Diplomacy, Preparedness and
Engagement responsibilities with the aid of Technology (DPEAT) would result in superior service
outcomes. We illustrate implementing our framework in a field service organization and use a
published case study to demonstrate the application of our model.
In recent years, companies are realizing that a customer's product purchase
decision is not only influenced by the product's value (i.e. performance relative
to cost), but also by the service support available after the sale of the product.
As pointed out by Lele and Karmarkar (1983), providing good product support,
which encompasses everything that can help maximize the customer's after-
sales satisfaction, is a good marketing strategy and can play an important role
in achieving competitive advantage. It is also a means of creating sustainable
relationships with customers. This realization is leading to a shift in the terms
of competition in nearly all industries. Many of the innovations in providing a
better after-sales service experience are driven by new developments in
technology. In this paper, we address the issue of leveraging technology to
improve field service, which is defined as after-sales service of equipment
located at a customer's site.
Considerable attention has been given recently to the notion of leveraging
technology to create and sustain a competitive advantage. There has been a
concerted push to e-everything from training (e-learning) to the entire business
(e-business). In the service arena, this has resulted in a whole new suite of
products and applications claiming to automate the service function or make it
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The authors would like to thank the three reviewers for their careful reviews and valuable
suggestions, which improved the paper.