Standardization in Service Sectors

  • Henk J. de Vries


This chapter discusses the applicability of formal standardization in service sectors. Traditionally, standardization has mainly been used in technical environments. Some service sectors also have a tradition of standardization, for instance, financial services (Darsie, 1990), and services in the area of libraries and documentation (Crawford, 1991). Other service sectors have just started using standardization, for instance, removal services (Canioni, 1996) and maintenance (Enjeux, 1996a). In general, there is an increasing use of standardization in service sectors. Standards for services at the national level include, for instance, classification of hotels (Australia), codes of practice for banks (United Kingdom), and information cards for health care services (USA) (ISO Bulletin, 1995a).


Service Delivery Service Sector World Trade Organization Service Employee Road Transport 
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  1. 2.
    These, again, can be distinguished in service delivery and service results.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Bad performance of European road carriers caused their customers to lose confidence. Standards can be a means to restore confidence (Biencourt, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    At that moment, the only available classification of standards for services was the one of Henry (1996a). He distinguishes standards for terminology (8.1 and 9.1 in the above classification), offer (8.1), contract (8.1), methods for measurement (3.2, 4.2), description of the professionality of a service organization (1.1), service characteristics and performance requirements (3.1. and 4.1, being distinguished insufficiently), guidelines for ISO 9000 application (1.1), and personnel abilities (2.1). So it can be concluded that his classification is inexhaustive.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Mystery shopper = person who “under cover” mingles with the customers, on behalf of the supplier, to judge the services offered.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Concise text in the synopsis of lectures in standardization at the Rotterdam School of Management (Simons & De Vries, 1996).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    A comprehensive contribution on this topic is provided by ISO/IEC (1992a).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Occasionally, an opposite mechanism can be observed: parties that are unwilling to develop a standard because they are afraid that authorities will refer to them. This applies in the area of standards for occupational health and safety management systems (see Subsection 4.2.2).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Because all the literature used is in the Dutch language, it is not mentioned here. A listing per investigated sector can be found in the research report (De Vries & Schipper 1997, pp. 115–118). Interviewed people are listed too (ibid., pp. 119–120).Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    As in the New Approach — see Subsection 2.2.5.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Though not investigated, it seems plausible that the fact that AFNOR is leading in the number of initiatives for services standardization, is related to the fact that AFNOR performs both standardization and certification activities (ISO Bulletin, 1998, p. 19; see Section 7.6). For many of the interviewed people the possibilities of NNI in the area of services were unknown, mostly NNI was associated with technical standards only.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Thus, the customer-directed standardization definition proposed by Berry, Zeithaml, and Parasuraman (1992) (see Section 11.1) does not apply.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henk J. de Vries
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus University RotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Nederlands Normalisatie InstituutDelftThe Netherlands

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