Service quality is a comparison of expectations with performance.
A business with high service quality will meet customer needs whilst remaining economically competitive. Improved service quality may increase economic competitiveness.
This aim may be achieved by understanding and improving operational processes; identifying problems quickly and systematically; establishing valid and reliable service performance measures and measuring customer satisfaction and other performance outcomes.
- 1 Definition
- 2 Dimensions of service quality
- 3 Measuring service quality
- 4 Approaches to the improvement of service quality
- 5 Approaches to improve the conformity of service quality
- 6 See also
- 7 References
From the viewpoint of business administration, service quality is an achievement in customer service. It reflects at each service encounter. Customers form service expectations from past experiences, word of mouth and advertisement. In general, Customers compare perceived service with expected service in which if the former falls short of the latter the customers are disappointed.
For example, in the case of TAJ Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, wherein TAJ remaining the old world, luxury brand in the five-star category, the umbrella branding was diluting the image of the TAJ brand because although the different hotels such as Vivanta by Taj- the four star category, Gateway in the three star category and Ginger the two star economy brand, were positioned and categorised differently, customers still expected the high quality of Taj from all their properties.
The measurement of subjective aspects of customer service depends on the conformity of the expected benefit with the perceived result. This in turns depends upon the customer's expectation in terms of service, they might receive and the service provider's ability and talent to present this expected service. Successful Companies add benefits to their offering that not only satisfy the customers but also surprise and delight them. Delighting customers is a matter of exceeding their expectations.
Pre-defined objective criteria may be unattainable in practice, in which case, the best possible achievable result becomes the ideal. The objective ideal may still be poor, in subjective terms.
Service quality can be related to service potential (for example, worker's qualifications); service process (for example, the quickness of service) and service result (customer satisfaction).
Dimensions of service quality
A customer's expectation of a particular service is determined by factors such as recommendations, personal needs and past experiences. The expected service and the perceived service sometimes may not be equal, thus leaving a gap. The service quality model or the ‘GAP model’ developed by a group of authors- Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry at Texas and North Carolina in 1985 , highlights the main requirements for delivering high service quality. It identifies five ‘gaps’ that cause unsuccessful delivery. Customers generally have a tendency to compare the service they 'experience' with the service they 'expect' . If the experience does not match the expectation , there arises a gap. Ten determinants that may influence the appearance of a gap were described by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry. in the SERVQUAL model: reliability, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy, communication, credibility, security, understanding the customer and tangibles.
Measuring service quality
Measuring service quality may involve both subjective and objective processes. In both cases, it is often some aspect of customer satisfaction which is being assessed. However, customer satisfaction is an indirect measure of service quality.
Measuring subjective elements of service quality
Subjective processes can be assessed in characteristics (assessed be the SERVQUAL method); in incidents (assessed in Critical Incident Theory) and in problems (assessed by Frequenz Relevanz Analyse a German term. The most important and most used method with which to measure subjective elements of service quality is the Servqual method.
Measuring objective elements of service quality
Objective processes may be subdivided into primary processes and secondary processes. During primary processes, silent customers create test episodes of service or the service episodes of normal customers are observed. In secondary processes, quantifiable factors such as numbers of customer complaints or numbers of returned goods are analysed in order to make inferences about service quality.
Approaches to the improvement of service quality
In general, an improvement in service design and delivery helps achieve higher levels of service quality. For example, in service design, changes can be brought about in the design of service products and facilities. On the other hand, in service delivery, changes can be brought about in the service delivery processes, the environment in which the service delivery takes place and improvements in the interaction processes between customers and service providers.
Approaches to improve the conformity of service quality
In order to ensure and increase the 'conformance quality' of services, that is, service delivery happening as designed, various methods are available. Some of these include Guaranteeing; Mystery Shopping; Recovering; Setting standards and measuring; Statistical process control and Customer involvement.
- ISO 9001
- Quality Management
- Process Quality
- Customer focus
- Service Marketing
- Mystery Shopping
- Work Quality
- Lewis and Booms (1983)
- ASQ The Global voice of Quality
- ASQ The Global voice of Quality
- Peter Kenzelmann. Kundenbindung German, 3. Auflage, Berlin: Cornelsen Verlag Skriptor GmbH & Co KG 2008
- Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1985)
- Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1988)
- Jean Harvey, "Service quality: a tutorial", Journal of Operations Management, 1998,No. 16, pp.583–597