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Service Quality Dimensions of Retailing - A Study on Retail Chain Stores in Chittagong
Syed Mohammad Hasib Ahsan1 Mohammad Toufiqur Rahman1 Tanzina Chowdhury1 Nazamul Hoque2* Lecturer, Department of Business Administration, International Islamic university Chittagong, 240, Nawab Sirajudowla Road, Chawkbazar, Chittagong, Bangladesh. Assistant professor, Department of Business Administration, International Islamic university Chittagong, 240, Nawab Sirajudowla Road, Chawkbazar, Chittagong, Bangladesh. *E-mail of the corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT Service quality is a critical component of customer perceptions about the service. The performance and quality parameters of any service are dependent on customer expectations and how efficiently and satisfactorily the service firm is able to serve its customers. This study employs the SERVQUAL method to study service quality aspects of retail stores in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The traditional quality dimensions for assessing the service quality have been modified to assess the customers’ service needs and satisfaction in the retail sector. The results showed that a high positive correlation existed between various service dimensions, and that customers’ evaluation of service quality was more or less similar across different age groups. This study aims at identifying components of retail service quality in retail chain store in Chittagong. A survey of 412 shoppers in various retail chain store in Chittagong has resulted that service quality of retain chain store composes of 5 dominant factors namely Tangibility, Reliability, Assurance, Responsiveness and Empathy. Keywords: SERVQUAL; Retailer; Interactions; Behavior; Retailing 1.0 INTRODUCTION: Service quality has drawn attention of researchers and managers in recent times (Zeithaml, 2000). It has become a significant research topic in the past decade due to its apparent relationship to customer satisfaction, (Bolton and Drew, 1991, Bowlding et al, 1993,) higher revenues, higher customer retention, (Benett and Higgings,1988) repeat purchasing behavior (Taylor and Cronin,1994) and expanded market share(Bowen and Hedges, 1993). It is very difficult for the consumers to evaluate the quality of service before consumption, and in many cases, even after consumption, consumers cannot properly evaluate the quality of service consumed. As a result, consumers tend to base their perception of service quality on some factors. The service quality affects the overall evaluation of the service entity (Parasuraman et al, 1988) and, to a large extent, is based on service personnel behavior (Bowers et al, 1994). The retail environment is changing more rapidly than ever before it is characterized by intensifying competition from both domestic and foreign companies, a spate of mergers and acquisitions and more sophisticated and demanding customers who have greater expectations related to their consumption experiences (Sellers 1990, Smith 1989). In retail setting, especially retail stores where there is a mix of product and service, retailers are likely to have impact on service quality more than on product quality (Dabholkar et al., 1996). Therefore in a country like Bangladesh, Retail stores are set to boom in the country as the current market players are planning to open several hundred more outlets in the next few years to cope with the rising demand from the consumers. With a strong 15-20 per cent annual sales growth, about 30 companies with more than 200 outlets have already made foray into the industry since Rahimafrooz, one of the largest business groups in Bangladesh, introduced Agora, a chain superstore, in the capital a decade ago. The current study is aimed to explore the service personnel’s interactions with the customer which determined by using the traditional SERVQUAL scale and adapting it for retail. Zeithaml et al (1991) have identified five elements that determine service quality: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. Keeping these dimensions in view, we developed a questionnaire to understand customer perceptions toward retail services and the role of service personnel's behavior in generating customer satisfaction. 2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW Service quality is a critical component of customer perceptions about the service. Customers perceive services in terms of its quality and how satisfied they are overall with their experiences (Zeithaml, 2000). Due to intangibility nature of services, it is difficult to measure service quality as there are fewer tangible cues available when 1
Thus. SERVQUAL provides a technology for measuring and managing service quality (SQ). durability. Zeithaml. Retail intercept method was used to collect the 2 . restaurants. 1986. cleaning and retailers selling consumer durables. 1993. 4. they established that customers gave importance to greetings by the salespersons and not being pressured to purchase products. 1983). interaction quality. Assurance. SHAWPNO and WELL MART in Chittagong city. The sample constituted customers (who had to fill the questionnaire) with reference to only retailers selling grocery and household products. the social interaction of retail staff may be considered an important determinant in eliciting a positive response from the customers. four items for responsiveness and Four items for empathy). For example. 1985) as compared to goods. the process by which the outcome was delivered. Reliability.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: The research adapted the questionnaire used by Evans et al (2008) for understanding the sales personnel behavior in determining customer perception of service quality in the retail chain stores like AGORA. freshness. The research design was exploratory in nature. The five SERVQUAL dimensions were customized to comprehend the effect of service personnel's behavior in determining customer perception about service quality. promulgated and promoted the technology through a series of publications(Parasuraman et al. functionality and ease of use. To find out the absolute and relative importance of the five proposed factors (Tangible. as there has been no prior research on examining service quality dimensions in the retail sectors in Chittagong city. Darian et al (2001) had conducted a research on service personnel behavior in retail. four items for reliability. Service also requires higher consumer involvement in the consumption process (Grönroos. 1991. The appearance of the service provider. by Sum and Hui (2009). and physical environment quality was captured by Brady and Cronin (2001) in their empirical research. Bitner. Random sampling technique was used for data collection. The reason for selecting the grocery retailers was that as the customers regularly interacted with these retailers (in course of their daily purchases of grocery items). and Gremler 2006:23).. Responsiveness.0 RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: The study has the following major research objectives: To have a scenario of service quality level of retail chain store in Chittagong metropolitan city. 1992. three items for assurance. the equipments and product displays are important in service settings. We did not include services like repair. 1988. 2013 www. Zeithaml and Berry. quality of automobiles is judge by such factors as reliability. They also developed a multidimensional scale to capture customer perceptions and expectations of service quality in terms of these five dimensions known as SERVQUAL (Zeithaml. Researchers suggest that customers do not perceive quality of service in a unidimensional way but rather judge service quality based on multiple factors relevant to the context (Zeithaml and Bitner 2003: 93).iiste. when the technology was first published. 1985. banking. where as quality of food products might be assessed on other dimensions ( flavor. This depiction of service quality as outcome quality. based on the analytical results of the current study. showed that empathy was an important consideration for customer loyalty behavior. from consumption situation to situation and from culture to culture(Zeithaml. serviceability. 1991b. Zeithaml et al. and Berry. KHULSHI MART. Logic suggests that the absolute as well as relative importance of these dimensions in determining perceptions of service quality will vary from service to service. the service quality would be dependent on behavioral attributes. prestige.. Several researchers have suggested that consumers judge the quality of services based on their perceptions of the technical outcome provided. Tangibles. if needed. The tangible elements of services influence in developing customer perceptions toward the service personnel's behavior and play a significant role in customer perceptions toward service quality (Lovelock. Responsiveness. and the quality of the physical surroundings where the service was delivered. from customer to customer. 1994. have further developed. 1984) which makes it more complicated to measure.5. 1993). Empathy) To analyze the possible variability of the importance of these five factors across age and gender of the respondents. Bitner. In this paper for determining service quality of retail store we have considered the following five dimensions: 3. its innovators Parasuraman. 1990.13. and Gremler 2006:154-156).org consumers purchase services (Parasuraman. Since 1985. To offer suggestions. Assurance and Empathy. Parasuraman. 1990. These dimensions are Reliability. The questionnaire consisted of 19 constructs (Four items for tangibles. aroma and so on). No.European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol. 1991a. MINA BAZAR. et al(1988) proposed five specific dimensions of service quality that apply across a variety of service contexts. Research on fashion stores in Hong Kong.
0 ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS: The original scale developed by Evans et al (2008) had been modified. Duffy (2003) states that customer service accounts for service success. and the score was 0.4 per cent of the data. and also that the role of salespersons could not be underestimated in creating satisfactory service quality perceptions (Beatty et al. and the 50 years and above age group was only 4. Hypothesis 1: The five SERVQUAL dimensions to measure service personnel's interaction with customers would have a relationship with each other. Most companies want to serve their customers well.4 per cent. however. The questionnaire was administered in English and the students had to explain the purpose of the research to solicit their support. Churchill (1979) suggests that an alpha of 0.643 Assurance Reliability Statistics Cronbach's Alpha .5. but are not able to understand their expectations because of the intangible nature of services (Kandampully. The study was launched with the following hypotheses. In our study the words customers and consumers are used interchangeably without making any distinction.615 for Tangibility. and thus could not be used for analysis.iiste. The age bracket between 30–40 years comprised 34.615 Reliability Statistics N of Items 4 Cronbach's Alpha . Therefore a low co-efficient alpha indicates the sample of items perform poorly in capturing the construct motivating the measure . Hypothesis 2: There would be a difference in the customers’ evaluation of retail service quality based on the age of the respondents.612 N of Items 4 Table 1 shows the age breakup of the respondents. 5. We ascertained the reliability of the items of each dimension by computing the Chronbach alpha. The customers were asked to fill in a structured questionnaire by indicating their degree of agreement on a five-point Likert scale (1 – strongly Disagree. A total of 38. we could use only 412 questionnaires for the final analysis. The sample size was kept at 430.612 for Empathy. 0. A large section of the population comprised the young generation. 1996). Hypothesis 3: There will be a difference in the customers’ evaluation of retail service quality based on the gender of the respondents.624 N of Items 3 N of Items 4 Responsiveness Reliability Statistics Cronbach's Alpha . Chronbach's (1951) coefficient alpha measures the extent to which the scale items cohere with each other.1 per cent of the respondents were in the age group of 20–30 years doing their regular grocery shopping from the neighborhood stores.691 for Responsiveness and 0.7 per cent. 5 – strongly agree). 1997). So the value for Cronbach’s alpha indicates a good internal consistency of the items in the scale here.643 for Relliability. Post-graduate marketing students handled the fieldwork. and data were collected in the month of October and December by visiting the outlets personally and contacting the customers.European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol. 0.13. The remaining 18 questionnaires were incomplete. 40-50 years comprised 20. 2013 www. and therefore the reliability of the scale was computed by running the Chronbach alpha test of reliability. No. Tangibility Reliability Statistics Reliability Cronbach's Alpha .691 N of Items 4 Empathy Reliability Statistics Cronbach's Alpha .624 for Assurance. 3 . 0.org primary data.60 or greater should be considered adequate to develop a new questionnaire. Svensson (2001) posits that service quality helps strengthen interpersonal relationships and is dependent on the service interactions between the service provider and the customers.
6748 10.European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.74369 2. Deviation 2. (2-tailed) N Empathy Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Reliability Pearson Correlation Sig.389 ** Responsiveness Empathy . Correlations Tangibility Tangibility Pearson Correlation Sig.1 34.80095 2.000 412 .566** .8568 15.383** .00 4.00 Mean 15.00 20.000 412 .000 412 1 412 .01600 2.5 75.85 respectively.00 20.1 34. 2013 www. Table 3 : Correlations-SERVQUAL dimensions in retailing services.0 The total male respondents were 247 (60 per cent of total sample size) and female respondents were 165 (40 per cent of total sample size).000 412 .iiste.13. Correlation is significant at the 0.Descriptive statistics of SERVQUAL dimensions in retailing services Descriptive Statistics N Tangibility Reliability Assurance Responsiveness Empathy Valid N (listwise) 412 412 412 412 412 412 Minimum 9.000 412 .187** .187 ** .4 4.000 412 1 412 .00 4.39721 3.6917 14. whereas.7 20.4 4.4 100.383 ** .000 412 .000 412 .566 ** . The results suggest that there is further scope of improvement in the service quality dimensions.385 ** Assurance .000 412 .389 ** .263** .57110 To understand the relationship between the SERVQUAL dimensions.4 38.5.01 level (2-tailed).219** .000 412 .000 412 .12 and 14. (2-tailed) N Responsiveness Pearson Correlation Sig.69.00 Maximum 20.00 5.6 100.456 ** .000 412 .000 412 **. The customers gave importance to interaction with the retailers. No.2 95. (2-tailed) N Assurance Pearson Correlation Sig.456 ** 1 .000 412 1 412 .000 412 1 412 .326 ** .219 ** . The descriptive statistics results are shown in Table 2.org Table 1 .4 38. Table 2 .521 ** .385 ** Reliability .4 100.0121 Std. a correlation test was run on the sample.00 20.000 412 . Assurance had the lowest score of 10.000 412 .0 Valid Percent 2. 4 .326 ** .000 412 . (2-tailed) N 412 .000 412 .00 15.521 ** . The Tangibility and Responsiveness dimensions of service quality had the highest mean score of 15.263 ** .4 40.1214 14. The results are shown in Table 3.000 412 .00 4.0 Cumulative Percent 2.Age breakup of respondents:Age Breakup Frequency Valid 10-20 20-30 30-40 40-50 50-100 Total 10 157 143 84 18 412 Percent 2.7 20.
Responsiveness (r=0. 5 . This construct was similar to the ‘personal attention’ attribute used by Dabholkar et al (1996). The results are shown in Table 4. However. show interest to solve the problems . and Empathy (r=. responsiveness and empathy of behavioral attributes of the retailers. To determine whether any significant differences existed between the different age groups of customers regarding the SERVQUAL dimensions.01 levels ( r = 0.000 significant at 0. had a clear idea about their product preferences. which is significant at 0.000. error free records etc. The Empathy dimension has shown a positive correlation with all other dimensions that is significant at 0. reliability and assurance).566). P=0.P=000) and positive correlation with Empathy (r=0.01 level .389 with tangibility) The Responsiveness dimension demonstrated a strong positive correlation with Tangibility (r=. the scale included the construct of considering customers as individuals with different needs. 2013 www. Positive correlation with SERVQUAL dimensions of Reliability demonstrates that the retailer reassured the customer about their capability to fulfill promises within certain time. we found the Responsiveness dimension to have a strong relationship with the retailers’ knowledge about products. P=0. handling complaints if any.326 with responsiveness. customers do not give much thought to the store specifications. empathy. If the retailer was responsive toward customer needs. r=0. significant at 0. The results of the study conducted on Hong Kong customers by Siu and Cheung (2001) had shown that the policy of the company had the greatest impact on the customer evaluation of service quality.01 level). the results are significant at 0. explained clearly the policies and made concessions that he could handle. provided clear answers. Kim and Jin (2001) found that Tangibles were most important for Korean customers.European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol. The Reliability dimension was related to tangible. the friendly attitude. a one-way ANOVA test was run.456.521. No. As purchasing groceries is a routine activity.5. assurance.01 level) and Tangibility (r=.385. commitment to fulfill promises.000. The appearance of the retail sales personnel was considered to be a tangible part of the service transaction. In a similar study carried out on Korean customer perception of quality of discount retailers.13. P=0. Hypothesis 1 gets accepted as positive relationships exist between the service quality dimensions. Assurance had a strong positive correlation with Tangibility. convincing style and ability to meet schedules (as reflected through constructs used for Tangible.org The results show a positive correlation between the five SERVQUAL dimensions. the behavior of the retailer instills confidence in them and makes them feel that the retailer knows their ‘unique and specific’ needs and they will provide their services at the time they promise to do so. In the Empathy dimension.iiste.263). the customers could be confident of the service quality of the retail store. In our study. The Reliability dimension had a moderate positive correlation with Assurance (r=0. Thus.01 level). and Responsiveness.187. The Tangible dimension also has positive correlation with all other dimension.
802 .179 6.820 6. Empathy=. thus. Hypothesis 3 is also accepted.678 Sig. Hypothesis 2 is accepted as service quality attributes are not rated similarly by customers of different age groups. The results shown in Table 5 suggest that there was significance difference( Except reliability =.org Table 4: ANOVA – Differences In Customer Age Groups’ Perceptions Of SERVQUAL In Retailing.942 F 9.852 301.European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol. The results thus show that all the age groups did not have similar perceptions about the service quality attributes in retailing services. all SERVQUAL dimensions had significant differences between the age groups were apparent.939 Df 4 407 411 4 407 411 4 407 411 4 407 411 4 407 411 11.238 10.918 .495 5.128 75. ANOVA Sum of Squares Tangibility Between Groups Within Groups Total Reliability Between Groups Within Groups Total Assurance Between Groups Within Groups Total Responsiveness Between Groups Within Groups Total Empathy Between Groups Within Groups Total 268. 2013 www.873 2361.000 Mean Square 67.350 7.785) on any of the SERVQUAL dimensions.717 2825.215 3093.444 8.511.605 3224. No.659 2716. Therefore.000 57.000 58.551 47.976 .5. It is apparent from the results of ANOVA that.932 232.414 8. 6 . The male and female respondents gave equal emphasis to the quality dimensions.893 3738.iiste.280 2669.658 3436.979 2131.417 229.559 1. The one-way ANOVA test was administered to determine whether the gender of the customers played any role in their evaluation of service quality dimensions.13. .812 2991.000 There were five different age groups of customers in the research study (as shown in Table 1).203 7.931 .
1996.852 120.856 .433 . whereas tangibles were more important for Korean customers. but is familiar with their families and household woes.019 3224. stating that in relational exchanges.551 . 1987).659 7. have postulated that as countries become developed. relationships and group norms are given priority.002 Malhotra et al (1994). personal attention was considered the most important quality dimension in retailing service for American customers. This may be in tandem with the assertion of Tombs and McColl-Kennedy (2003) that interactions are an important constituent of service quality. who suggest that customers’ evaluation of a retail store is based on the credit and refund policies. 1991. Socialization factor has been considered important in forming long-term relationships.075 .org Table 5 : ANOVA – Gender differences in perceptions of SERVQUAL in retailing.13.European Journal of Business and Management ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol. The correlation results show that more than maximum dimensions of service quality had a positive relationship.398 3221. Our results corroborate earlier studies (Brown et al. 7 .785 120.444 2716. Macintosh and Lockshin. and this may be reflected in their evaluation of service quality in retailing.417 41. customers prefer to establish a rapport and relationship with the retailers.939 df 1 410 411 1 410 411 1 410 411 1 410 411 1 410 411 .376 F 9.932 3. The results show that relationship is an integral part of service quality evaluation by Indian customers.348 .823 13.iiste.496 2716.927 3617.586 5. as most of the interactions have a long-term orientation. and support Berry and Gresham's (1986) assumption that ‘relationship retailing’ is relevant for maintaining store loyalty.249 3093. .683 7. This is similar to the study done by Mazursky and Jacoby (1985).927 8.683 3024.496 6. Kim and Jin. The performance of one dimension of service quality was dependent on the other. ANOVA Sum of Squares Tangibility Between Groups Within Groups Total Reliability Between Groups Within Groups Total Assurance Between Groups Within Groups Total Responsiveness Between Groups Within Groups Total Empathy Between Groups Within Groups Total 69.511 Mean Square 69. people derive satisfaction through personal interactions.705 . In the research carried out by Kim and Jin (2001).265 2361. In Chittagong(Bangladesh). This serves as an important determinant of service quality. services and return and refund policies of the company. Bangladeshi culture is more collectivist in nature and people prefer to form long-term relationships in their interactions. Winsted (1997) suggested that different cultures evaluated service quality dimensions affect customers’ perception differently. 2001) that sales personnel behavior affected customers’ evaluation of the retailing service. 1997. The results of our study indicate that behavior of the retailers is considered an important determinant of service quality.624 3738. discounts.586 2320. The local retailer not only knows the customer individually. Beatty et al.007 3. it is also based on interactions with the retailer. and that environmental factors affect customers’ perception about service quality. the customers give greater priority to intangible attributes of service quality than the tangible ones. 2013 www.625 . cited in Kim and Jin (2001). It is not only about purchasing products from a particular store.398 7. The retailer is supposed to be aware of the preferences of the household and believes in giving attention to each customer. The difficulty in understanding these relationships arises from the complex nature of customer evaluations and relationships (Crosby and Stephens. No. 2001.447 Sig.000 41. Customers prefer to consult the retailers regarding product purchases ensured of their sound advice and clarity about their needs. The results indicate that customers gave importance to retailers’ clarity over company policies. Social acceptability. Dwyer et al (1987) have spoken of ‘socialization’ in the service encountered. Darian et al.5. The retailer is a friend to the customers and advises them about the latest product launches.
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