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Uncovering the keys to successful service elimination : project ServDrop

Gounaris, Spiros and Avlonitis, George and Papastathopoulou, Paulina (2006) Uncovering the keys to successful service elimination : project ServDrop. Journal of Services Marketing, 20 (1). pp. 24-36. ISSN 0887-6045

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The reason for this study is to help increase understanding concerning the service elimination decision and implementation since it remains a highly under-investigated topic. In doing so, an empirical investigation of the successful vs not-so-successful elimination practices from eight service industries were examined. The data were secured by means of a lengthy and structured questionnaire, instrumented through personal interviews as part of a much wider examination of the service elimination decision-making process in Greece entitled “Project ServDrop”. The companies included in the sample were drawn from a population of 1,964 service companies listed under selected service sectors, namely, insurance, banking, advertising, professional services, freight forwarding, marine, telecommunications and lodging. The analysis reveals that treating the elimination as a strategic issue, considering how resources can be more effectively re-allocated, paying attention to market consideration regarding the consequences of a potential elimination and adoption of a systematic behavior, building interdisciplinary teams to deal with the decision and keeping the time between the making and the implementation of the decision short, are all important dimensions of “successful elimination”. However, the findings should be cautiously adopted because of the limitations of the study: the use of a retrospective methodology in the data collection, the use of the key-informant approach, the limited number of variables included in the conceptual framework are issues that cannot be neglected. Nonetheless future research that will be directed towards tackling these limitations may dispel these concerns. Despite its limitations, this study has significant implications for practitioners. It mainly points to the strategic nature of the elimination decision and its implications. Also, it unveils certain behavioral changes that must accompany the effort to treat the elimination decision as part of the greater strategy for managing the firm's offerings. Thus, the contribution of this study is twofold. For academia, it is a step forward towards a stronger understanding of the service elimination issues, while, for practitioners, it helps to clarify certain important issues that can help improve the outcome of the decision to drop a service from the firm's portfolio.