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Title: Exploring the zone of tolerance for internal customers in IT-enabled call centers
Authors: Hsieh, JJP
Sharma, P
Rai, A
Parasuraman, A
Issue Date: 2013
Source: Journal of service research, 2013, v. 16, no. 3, p. 277-294
Abstract: Today, call center employees' service encounters with external customers are extensively supported with modern information technology (IT). However, prior research on service quality and zone of tolerance (ZOT) focuses primarily on external customers with little attention paid to how internal customers (e.g., service employees) respond to services provided by internal functions, particularly IT function that supports employees' IT use. Drawing on theory of administrative behavior and IT success literature, we conducted a study at a call center of a telecommunications firm and found that the impact of internal IT service quality (ITSQ) on employees' service quality (ESQ) to external customers, as well as on their satisfaction with and use of the deployed technology, exhibits a positive diminishing pattern as ITSQ increases from below to within and to above the ZOT. We also found that ITSQ's impact on ESQ employees' satisfaction with technology changes more dramatically around adequate service level than desired service level. Finally, we show that call center employees' satisfaction with technology partially mediates ITSQ's impact on ESQ. Besides adding to the service and IT literature, our findings suggest that managers should understand internal customers' different levels of expectations toward internal IT service and the differential performance impacts of those levels.
Keywords: Call center
Internal customers
Internal services
IT success
IT-enabled service
Service quality
Theory of administrative behavior
Zone of tolerance
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Journal: Journal of service research 
ISSN: 1094-6705
EISSN: 1552-7379
DOI: 10.1177/1094670513478831
Rights: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Service Research. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Service Research, vol. 16, no. 3, p. 277-294 (2013), DOI: 10.1177/1094670513478831
© The Author(s) 2013
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