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Service Quality: The Future Of The Services Industry

1648 words - 7 pages

Service Quality: The Future of the Services Industry

“Why is quality such an important issue in the marketing of services? Why is quality more difficult to manage in service industries than it is in the case of physical goods? Use examples to support your answer.”

The concept of service quality is a relatively new construct in the marketing discipline which first emerged in the 1980’s when organisations began to consider quality not only in the already established manufacturing sector but in the rapidly evolving service industries sector also. Specifically defined service quality is a subjective experience which results from ‘an evaluation process in which the customer compares ...view middle of the document...

Gronroos (1987) proposed two dimensions of quality in his service quality model; technical quality and functional quality to explain how customers assess services compared with physical goods (Appendix 1). Technical quality refers to what is being provided or the outcome of the service, for example the food received in a restaurant or the mobile phone received from a telecommunications subsidiary, whereas functional quality refers to how the service is provided or the process of service delivery for example how the food was ordered and the demeanor of the waiter. When customers are assessing goods they only evaluate the technical aspects of the product however when they assess services they are evaluating both the technical and functional dimensions. A study conducted by (Holdford 1999) evaluated the relative importance of functional quality (how services were provided) and technical quality (what was received for those services) on patient perceptions of a pharmaceutical service experience. Findings showed that functional quality had a greater bearing on the patient’s perception of service quality even in such a high technical quality oriented environment of a medical practice where outcomes are critically evaluated. As services are assessed across both technical and functional dimensions by customers they are much more difficult to manage than physical goods so it is vital that the service organisation knows the level of service the customer expects to receive in order to narrow the perception gap between the expected service and the service experience (Appendix 1).

Specific elements such as word of mouth, personal needs and past experience create an expected level of service which customers look to receive from the service organisation. Compare this to the expected level of quality they expect to receive from physical goods where the customer’s expectations are largely based upon industry standards alone. When assessing services the expected level of service is then compared to the customer’s perceived service to produce the service experience. Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry (1988) proposed a model known as SERVQUAL which identified five dimensions of service quality which had an impact on the way customers perceive service. These five dimensions of tangible quality, reliability quality, responsiveness quality, assurance quality and empathy quality could be used by organisations as an instrument to improve the way customers perceived the service quality in their firms (Appendix 2). When customers perceive the quality of a service they analyse all five dimensions by considering the functional aspects of how the service was provided as well as the technical aspects of what is being provided. For example a customer travelling on an airline perceives the quality of service by analyzing how knowledgeable and polite the flight attendant was (assurance quality) as well as the comfort of their seat and speediness of the flight...

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