Discussion Question Week 4. Controlling Service Quality

Discussion Question Week 4 – Controlling Service Quality

Rachel Wheele

Service quality is difficult to measure, mainly because it is difficult to determine exactly what it is. Service quality is different for each industry and is different for each company within the same industry. Unlike manufacturing which has tangible outputs that can be easily measured and set to a standard, services are generally intangible and are therefore difficult to measure. I chose controlling service quality because I have a personal interest in how it fits into to my daily interactions with different service industries.

A company that monitors and continually improves its service quality can increase its competitive advantage (Voss, Calantone & Keller, 2005). One of the ways a company can increase its service quality is to review internal processes. The way in which departments and people within the company interact with each other has an effect on the final outcome of service quality for the customer (Voss, Calantone & Keller, 2005). Studies have been done on the effect of self-service centers on service quality. Lee and Yang (2013) were able to determine that because of the difference in consumer traits that companies that implement self-service centers, like a self-checkout lane, should also have actual personnel on hand to assist when necessary and that this combination can result in higher retail sales (Lee & Yang, 2013). Similar to self-service centers is E-commerce. These are alike in that the consumer generally has little interaction with employees from the beginning of the process through to checkout and the different service quality dimensions hold different weight than traditional retail services (Sarmah & Sarma, 20123). Meredith and Shafer (2010) state that utilizing customer satisfaction surveys is one way in which the intangible, transient and psychological aspects of service quality can be measured (Meredith & Shafer, 2010). Similarly, Forbes (2008) researches service quality based off of customer complaints received (Forbes, 2008). From these methods of measuring service quality a company can use the data gathered to improve service quality for their customers.

The article I’ve selected looks at the auto repair service industry in Greece and how service quality is integrated into the business. Andronikidis (2009) links together the financial performance and competitive advantage of a company with its customer loyalty base, which is acquired by delivering superior service through high levels of service quality (Andronikidis, 2009). Andronikidis states that continuous improvements in service quality should be made in order to improve customer satisfaction. This article’s focus was on looking for a way to increase customer loyalty, and whether or not it was related to service quality or some other factor. Andronikidis was not able to determine that service quality alone is enough to sustain customer loyalty, and found that the customers perceived costs or price has significant influence on customer loyalty (Andronikidis, 2009). A company should strive to increase its service quality and can do so in the form of employee training and customer surveys regarding the quality of service received. Companies should not limit themselves to only customer complaint cards or customer satisfaction cards that are limited to block checking. Instead they should incorporate a scale such as the Likert scale where a variety of different service encounters can be rated ranging from very negative to very positive, and there should be an area for comments in order to get the most out of the customer survey. Using the information from the customer surveys, a company can refine its training for the employees and create a better experience for the customer.

We experience service nearly every day in either tangible or intangible forms. Unlike manufacturing quality that is tangible and can be easily measured, service quality is intangible and is difficult to measure. Service quality is found in interactions with cashiers at restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, E-commerce, airlines, repair shops and many more. The service quality measures for a restaurant have different levels of importance than those for an E-commerce business. Customer surveys appear to be the best way to measure customer satisfaction and have some measure over controlling service quality. Customer surveys that have an area for kudos, comments, or detailed dissatisfaction about the services, as well as satisfaction levels on different services, should be incorporated in every business that is service oriented. This will give them a better idea of how to improve training for employees so they can give higher service quality.

References

Andronikidis, A. (2009). Linking dimensions of perceived service quality to actual purchase

behavior. EuroMed Journal of Business 4(1), 4-20. Retrieved from http://search.

proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/docview/1011597893

Chowdhary, N., & Prakash, M. (2007). Prioritizing service quality dimensions. Managing

Service Quality 17(5), 493-509. doi: 10.1108/09604520710817325

This article investigates different service quality dimensions and attempts to rank them according to importance and make generalizations about which service quality dimensions are most important to certain industries. The author reviews sixteen services across four service types and determined that broad generalizations could not be made. However, within each service type some insights were found as far as the importance of each service quality dimension. Overall it was found that the service quality dimensions depend on the respondent, the competition, the maturity of the market, and the delivery of services. I found this article helpful as it shows that the type of service quality is dependent on the service being provided.

Forbes, S. J. (2008, April 11). The effects of service quality and expectations on customer

complaints. The Journal of Industrial Economics 56(1), 190-213. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6451.2008.00338.x

This article found that there are more complaints when the actual service quality is less than the expected service quality, however when the actual service quality is higher than expected, there are fewer complaints. The author bases these findings in complaints made after the fact regarding service quality. There may be some bias to this paper as the customers were not able to leave positive comments regarding service. The customers only had negative feedback from a small sample of customers on which to base their expectations of the service. I do not think this information was very helpful as it seems to be common sense and no original insights were made. The results found in this paper are what I would expect to find.

Lee, H. J., & Yang, K. (2013, January). Interpersonal service quality, self-service technology

(SST) service quality, and retail patronage. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 20(1), 51-57. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/10.1016/

j.jretconser.2012.10.005

This article wanted to determine if there was a link between retail patronage and interactive service quality. The authors went about exploring this by comparing companies that utilized self-checkouts with those that did not and those that did both. The main focus was to keep a high level of customer focused service quality in both the person to person interactions as well as the person to machine interactions. The authors found that there is certain demographics that are not comfortable using self-service technology, and that they could still receive a high level of service quality if the business stationed an employee near the checkout to give assistance when needed. This article was helpful in that it pointed out the importance of having high service quality even when there is not direct interaction with the consumer.

Meredith, J. R., & Shafer, S. M. (2010). Operations management for MBAs (4th ed.). Hoboken,

NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Mergen, A. E., &Stevenson, W. J. (2009, June). Can’t fix service quality? Read this. Total

Quality Management 20(6), 681-686. doi: 10.1080/14783360902924382

Sarmah, U., & Sarma, M. K. (2011, October – December). Service quality check: online

shopping. SCMS Journal of Indian Management 8(4), 5-10. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/916733695?accountid=12085

This article restates that service quality is the comparison between what a customer expects a company to provide and what they actually do provide in terms of service. This article was basically a literature review of the different articles of research that have been done on the subject of electronic commerce service quality. The findings are that e-commerce service quality is noticeably different from traditional store shopping service quality. This is due to the different set of expectations of the consumer. Also, this article suggests that more attention should be given to the development of service quality in e-commerce as it is a fast evolving medium for shopping. I think this article was helpful because it showed the different service quality expectations that between traditional in-store consumers as well as for the Internet shopper.

Voss, M. D., Calantone, R. J., & Keller, S. B. (2005). Internal service quality: determinants of

distribution center performance. Internal Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management 35(3), 161-176. doi: 10.1108/09600030510594558