|Methods and techniques|
SERVQUAL is a method to identify and solve problems related to quality of services. It was presented by A. Parasuraman, V. Zeithaml and L. Berry in 1988. The main idea is based on 5 gaps, which result in lower than expected quality of services. The method was one of the first tools created to evaluate and improve quality of services. Therefore is became popular very soon.
There is a number of critique articles in literature. They point that the model doesn't take into account some important research results related to services. The result of the critique was SERVPERF method, which was statistically validated and simper to use, however it didn't became so popular.
The SERVQUAL model is presented on fig. 1. The upper side of the model is related to consumer, while the lower part - to enterprise. The consumer expects certain quality of the service based on:
- word of mouth,
- personal needs and
- past experience.
The enterprise delivers the service, which is perceived by the consumer. If the perceived quality is not lower than expected quality, the overall assessment is positive. In other case - it is negative. This however doesn't take into account prejudice, bad mood, bad day, etc., which was one of objections raised by SERVQUAL critiques.
Gap 5. Expected vs. perceived service
No, we can count to five. We start with the gap 5, because it focuses all others gaps. It is the only gap that doesn't include enterprise. But if the managers and employees are able to close other four gaps, this one should be closed automatically.
Gap 1. Expected service vs. management perception
The company managers should know what customer expects. The organization should perform market research, focus groups, etc. to understand the customer. If this fails, the first gap opens.
Gap 2. Management perception vs. Service design
Even if we know what are the customer expectations, we might have no competences or resources to fulfil them. In that case the gap 2 opens. The knowledge is not enough, it has to be translated into process of service delivery. This gap can be compared to designed quality in case of tangible products.
Gap 3. Service design vs. Service delivery
This gap is related to non-conformities that occur during the service delivery. In case of tangible product it is enough if it conforms the specification. In case of services there is much more: even smile or lack of it can have impact on perceived quality. Every problem encountered by customer (before, during or after the service delivery) can increase this gap.
Gap 4. Service delivery vs. Communication
This gap can occur in two cases:
- The company promised more than it is able to deliver.
- The company delivers good service, but cannot communicate this.
The first case is obvious. The second can happen if the service delivery is not so obvious to the customer and requires some faith that this was a good service. E.g. a visit to the dentist. If the dentist is sure of what he/she is doing, the customer is convinced that the service was good. The real quality of the service doesn't matter so much in that moment (it will be important later, if the tooth start to ache again).
In order to use SERVQUAL, the questionnaire is required. The questionnaire contains 44 statements which are related to 5 dimensions (called RATER):
- Tangibles (statements 1-4)
- Reliability (statements 5-9)
- Responsiveness (statements 10-13)
- Assurance (statements 14-17)
- Empathy (statements 18-22)
Each of statements is evaluated in 7-step Likert scale.
Part 1. Expectations
- Excellent companies will have modern looking equipment.
- The physical facilities at excellent banks will be visually appealing.
- Employees at excellent banks will be neat in their appearance.
- Materials associated with the service (pamphlets or statements) will be visually appealing at an excellent bank.
- When excellent banks promise to do something by a certain time, they do.
- When a customer has a problem, excellent banks will show a sincere interest in solving it.
- Excellent banks will perform the service right the first time.
- Excellent banks will provide the service at the time they promise to do so.
- Excellent banks will insist on error free records.
- Employees of excellent banks will tell customers exactly when services will be performed.
- Employees of excellent banks will give prompt service to customers.
- Employees of excellent banks will always be willing to help customers.
- Employees of excellent banks will never be too busy to respond to customers' requests.
- The behaviour of employees in excellent banks will instil confidence in customers
- Customers of excellent banks will feel safe in transactions.
- Employees of excellent banks will be consistently courteous with customers.
- Employees of excellent banks will have the knowledge to answer customers' questions.
- Excellent banks will give customers individual attention.
- Excellent banks will have operating hours convenient to all their customers.
- Excellent banks will have employees who give customers personal service.
- Excellent banks will have their customers' best interest at heart.
- The employees of excellent banks will understand the specific needs of their customers.
Part 2. Perceptions
- The organization has modern looking equipment.
- The organization's physical features are visually appealing.
- The organization's reception desk employees are neat appearing.
- Materials associated with the service (such as pamphlets or statements) are visually appealing at the organization.
- When the organization promises to do something by a certain time, it does so.
- When you have a problem, the organization shows a sincere interest in solving it.
- The organization performs the service right the first time.
- The organization provides its service at the time it promises to do so.
- The organization insists on error free records.
- Employees in the organization tell you exactly when the services will be performed.
- Employees in the organization give you prompt service.
- Employees in the organization are always willing to help you.
- Employees in the organization are never too busy to respond to your request.
- The behaviour of employees in the organization instils confidence in you.
- You feel safe in your transactions with the organization.
- Employees in the organization are consistently courteous with you.
- Employees in the organization have the knowledge to answer your questions.
- The organization gives you individual attention.
- The organization has operating hours convenient to all its customers.
- The organization has employees who give you personal attention.
- The organization has your best interests at heart.
- The employees of the organization understand your specific needs.
Evaluation of the questionnaire
Each statement from part 1 should be compared with the statement from part 2. They describe expectations and perception.
|Dimension||Statement||Expectation score||Perception score||Gap score||Average for the dimension|
Scores are summed up and weighted. The weights are chosen based on expert assessment of top management.
|Average weighted score|
- Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Berry, L. L. (1988). Servqual. Journal of retailing, 64(1), 12-40.
- Parasuraman, A., Berry, L. L., & Zeithaml, V. A. (1991). Refinement and reassessment of the SERVQUAL scale. Journal of retailing, 67(4), 420.
- Cronin Jr, J. J., & Taylor, S. A. (1994). SERVPERF versus SERVQUAL: reconciling performance-based and perceptions-minus-expectations measurement of service quality. The Journal of Marketing, 125-131.
- Buttle, F. (1996). SERVQUAL: review, critique, research agenda. European Journal of marketing, 30(1), 8-32.
Author: Slawomir Wawak