Administration & Management

It's Art of Governance & Not Commerce Alone

A Puzzle Called Service Quality

“The Currency Notes That A Customer Gets From The Tellers In Four Banks Are The Same. What Is Different Are The Tellers.” —- Stanley Marcus (1988)

……Article Comming Soon.

“Competing Organizations Provide Same Type Of Service. What They Do Not Provide Is Same Quality Of Service.” — Saurabh Singh (2011)

Probably no one knows this fact better than the customers.

to continue..

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh

Yes, I got a chance to start the  discussion further..Probably for first time out of ‘n’ times Promised……

Service Quality is not a new phenomenon though it may be taken as a bit vague and less understood phenomenon. But why all of a sudden I started a discussion on service quality. The reasons are very obvious and are in sync with the growth of national economy. As the nation gets itself established as developed nation, a boom is going to be witnessed in tertiary sector of the economy, which is often reffered as service sector. It has already been growing at a phenomenal rate but scope for further acceleration exists.

When we talk of service quality, a number of issues are born. What do we mean by term Service Quality, How it can be delivered, How it can be felt, and How it can be measured  etc.

Since mid eighties in twentieth century to till date, numerous researchers have come out with various models of measuring service quality. They can be listed as below:

  1. Data Envelopment Analysis Method developed by Charnes et. al. (1978)
  2. SERVQUAL scale introduced by Parasuraman et. al. (1988)
  3. SERVPERF scale introduced by Cronin and Taylor (1992)
  4. BSQ Model by Bahia & Nantel (2000)
  5. CARTER Model by Othman and Owen (2001)

But before going for measuring the Service Quality, I feel its necessary for scholars to understand fully well that how a Measurment Scale is Developed.

The Scale to be discussed is SERVQUAL Model introduced by Parasuraman et. al. (1988). This due to reasons that it has been used quite a large number of times. So here we go:

STEP – 1

Four Services were selected for the purpose

1. Retail Banking

2. Credit Cards

3. Securities Brokerage

4. Appliance Repair and Maintenance

Three focus group interviews were conducted for each service selected, cumulative they turn twelve.

The purpose of this focus group interview was to learn about customers’ view on service quality.

STEP – 2

To ascertain how service firm executives view service quality, in-depth face to face interviews were conducted with Marketing, Operations and Customer Relations Executives in four nationally recognized companies – one from each of the service categories being investigated.

Phase – 1

This phase indicated that customers evaluate service quality by mentally comparing their perception of delivered services with their expectations from the service firm.

They do this along ten distinct dimensions as listed hereunder:

Reliability             Responsiveness        Competence                      Access                  Courtesy

Communication   Credibility        Security    Understanding/ Knowing the Customer    Tangibles

This inquiry also revealed key gaps within service firms that could have a bearing on service quality as perceived by customers.

The inability of customer contact personnel to meet service – quality specifications laid down by management.

Phase – 2

This part was more empirical and  focused on

Developing a comprehensive but parsimonious instrument for measuring customer perception of service quality.

To accomplish the objective a well established procedure for developing structured instruments to measure constructs that are not directly observable was adopted.

Ninety Seven items, fleshing out the ten dimensions of service quality mentioned above were identified in the phase 1.

Each item then was recast in a pair of statements on the pattern below:

1. To measure expectations about firms in general within the service category being investigated.

Example: “When these firms promise to do something by a certain time, they should do so”

2. To measure perceptions about the particular firm whose service quality was being assessed

Example: “When XYZ firm promises to do something by a certain time, it does so”

Each statement was accompanied by a seven point scale ranging from 7 (strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree).

All the ninety seven items on instruments were shortened by iterative data collection and analysis steps.

The process can be called as instrument purification done to eliminate items that failed to discriminate well among respondents with differing quality perceptions about firms in several service categories.

The data for initial refinement of the 97 item instrument, was gathered from a quota sample of 200 hundred customers, divided equally between males and females, and representing recent users of one of the following five services:

  1. Appliance repair and maintenance
  2. Retail Banking
  3. Long distance telephone
  4. Securities brokerage
  5. Credit cards

The raw questionnaire data was converted into perception minus expectation scores for various items.

These difference scores could range from +6 to -6, with more positive score representing higher perceived service quality.

Difference scores obtained were analyzed using item to total co-relation analysis and factor analysis.

This resulted in elimination of roughly two – third of the original items and consolidation of several overlapping quality dimensions into new, combined dimensions.


To verify the reliability and validity of the condensed scale, it was administered to four independent samples of approximately 190 customers each to gather data on service quality of four nationally known firms:

  1. A Bank
  2. A credit Card Issuer
  3. A Repair and Maintenance firm; and
  4. A Long Distance Telephone Company

Analysis of data from four samples led to additional refinement of the instrument and confirmed its reliability and validity.

The final instrument consisted of 22 items, spanning the five dimensions of service quality (described in an earlier article) as below:

  1. Tangibles
  2. Reliability
  3. Responsiveness
  4. Assurance
  5. Empathy

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh


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