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A tale of two doctors
A tale of two doctors
Two of the papers in this issue have as a similar theme the important subject of service quality. Faulkner et al. report on research which looked at the nature of quality management in UK professional practices regarded as exemplary by experienced clients. Yip considers employee empowerment in the context of the property and construction professions in Hong Kong. Both make interesting reading. Yip's observation that some Chinese managers would rather not make a decision than risk "losing face" reminds me of one or two organisations in which I have worked in the past! Of course, at a time when the media are keen to report on any shortcomings in the professional standards of surveyors, it is right that the profession should be preoccupied with the subject of service quality. The group currently looking at the establishment of an accreditation body for those wishing to carry out the new sellers' condition reports will have to ensure that the body is capable of assessing the quality of service provided by the surveyors, engineers, architects and other professionals carrying out this work.
My own recently completed doctoral research looked at the link between service quality and competitive fee tendering. The research was funded by the RICS and involved the assessment of over 200 construction professionals by their clients. The service quality scores for the professionals were then considered in the light of the methods by which the professionals were appointed. Unfortunately, the data revealed no statistically significant link between service quality and the method of appointment, but the hypotheses that service quality is higher when care has been taken with the pre-selection of tenderers and when adequate weighting has been given to ability in the final selection process were both supported by the analysis of the data. Of course, fee levels have fallen significantly since the abolition of mandatory fee scales, and if clients have not perceived a decline in service quality then this suggests that construction professionals have maintained high standards in the face of declining fee income. This suggests that firms have become much more efficient in the last 15-20 years and, of course, IT has contributed to gains in efficiency during this period.
Of course when carrying out surveys it is absolutely essential to remain completely focused on the job in hand. Sometimes, however, there can be distractions, and recently a colleague and I were swapping stories about amusing incidents which have occurred while undertaking inspections of buildings. The thought occurred to us that this topic could provide fruitful material for a book. If readers would like to send me any such stories I would be happy to try to get such a book published, with any profit being donated to the benevolent societies of the professions contributing. I urge you to put pen to paper (or, hopefully, fingers to the keyboard) and send me your funniest story. Anyway, here is my contribution.
At about 10.00 a.m. I arrived at the front door of a terraced house with clipboard and tape measure in hand. A very attractive lady wearing only a bath-robe opened the door and bade me enter. I had barely done so when she started to cry, saying that she thought she was having a nervous breakdown. She then said that this had started when her husband had left her and that she was terribly frustrated. At this stage I began to panic and wondered what was coming next. I said, "Oh dear, would you like me to carry out the survey now, or shall I come back later?" At this, the lady stopped crying, went a bright shade of red and replied "Oh Christ, I thought you were my doctor!" We then had a good laugh about the situation, but in those brief few seconds I was given an insight into some of the minefields the medical profession must encounter.
I am sure that you must have a funnier story or even stories. I look forward to reading them and hopefully we can raise some money for very worthy causes. Contributions can be by post or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and if you wish to remain anonymous then please do so, but let me know which profession you belong to.