TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT, VOL. 12, NO.

1, 2001, 111 ± 124

Customer perceptions of service quality: A critique
G. S. Sureshchandar, Chandrasekharan Rajendran & T. J. Kamalanabhan
Industrial Engineering and Management Division, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, ChennaiÐ 600 036, Tamil Nadu, India

abstract Empirical research on service quality and satisfaction has unearthed multitudinous archetypes by various researchers across the world. However, all of them have been primarily built on the SERVQUAL instrument, a 22-item scale that measures service quality. The eYcacy of SERVQUAL in measuring service quality has been criticized by diVerent authors for diverse reasons, such as the operationalization of expectations, the reliability and validity of the instrument’s diVerence score formulation and the scale’s dimensionality across disparate industrial settings. In spite of these animadversions, there is a universal conformity that the 22 items are reasonably good predictors of service quality in its entirety. But a scrupulous scrutiny of the scale items connotes that the scale is not all-inclusive in the sense that it fails to address some of the critical aspects of customer perceived service quality. This paper endeavours to unearth and unravel such critical constituents of service quality which, hitherto, have been untouched in the literature, and advances a framework that could form the bedrock for a better understanding of customer perceived service quality and its determinants. Introduction In today’s world of ® erce competition, rendering quality service is a key for subsistence and success (Parasuraman et al., 1985; Reichheld & Sasser, 1990; Zeithaml et al., 1990). Cronin and Taylor (1992, 1994), Teas (1993, 1994) and Zeithaml et al. (1996) noted that the cardinal accent of both academia and business focused essentially on ascertaining the customers’ perceptions of service quality and subsequently contriving strategies to meet and surmount customer expectancies. Numerous organizations have started venturing into multifarious approaches to ameliorate the quality of their services. Reichheld and Sasser (1990) descried that the true quality upheaval has come to services. Service companies are beginning to grasp the verities behind what their manufacturing counterparts learned in the past few decadesÐ that quality does not improve unless it is measured. Parasuraman et al. (1985) observed that service ® rms ® nd it diý cult to anticipate and comprehend what aspects insinuate high quality to consumers, and the levels of those aspects that are required to deliver high-quality service. They elucidated that this perspicacity was in consonance with earlier research in services that suggested service marketers might not
Correspondence: Chandrasekh Rajendran, Industrial Engineering and Management Division, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, ChennaiÐ 600 036, Tamil Nadu, India. Tel: + 91-44-4458431; Fax: + 91-44-2350509; E-mail: cra@acea.iitm.ernet.in ISSN 0954-4127 print/ISSN 1360-0613 online/00/010111-14 DOI: 10.1080/09544120020010138 2001 Taylor & Francis Ltd

An analysis of these attributes is presented one by one. Zeithaml et al. would he/she be in a position to propose how best to direct these assessments in the preferred direction.112 G. have been largely understudied in the literature. the current research work strives to uncover these critical aspects of service quality which. inseparability of production and consumption. Though the eþ ectiveness of SERVQUAL in evaluating service quality has been questioned by diþ erent authors for diverse reasons. 1993. appearance of equipment. always conceive the logic behind consumers’ reactions and responses. the SERVQUAL instrument of Parasuraman et al. S. 1992. i. viz. a terse elucidation on the necessity and rationale for the separate handling of services would not be out of place here. i. Thus. and to develop a model that could form the foundation for a further realization of customer perceived service quality and its components. design and decor elements. Bateson (1977) explained that there are two distinct characteristics of services. `palpable’ intangibility. b. SURESHCHANDAR ET AL. Teas. 1993. a 22-item scale that measures service quality along ® ve dimensions. 1990. the objectives of this paper are twofold: (1) to identify the critical factors of service quality from the customers’ perspective.. they cannot be touched. 1988.). Services are intangible when compared to physical goods (Levitt. Parasuraman et al.g. In this backdrop. The research literature on service quality and satisfaction is copious. 1996). it is hard to anticipate exactly the . The point to be underscored here is that the SERVQUAL instrument seems to have left out certain other momentous aspects of service quality. stating that only when a service provider knew how the service would be assessed by the consumer. But a meticulous investigation of the scale items reveals that most of the items relate to the component of human interaction/intervention in the service delivery and the rest on the tangibles facets of the service (such as the eþ ect of atmospherics. 1993. the accent has been on streamlining organizations for the delivery of the prototypical service that varied from the prototypical good in many diþ erent ways. 1985). with various contributions from numerous researchers over the past few years (e. 1994a. In the organizational behaviour literature as explained by Schneider and Bowen (1985). The service paradox Before dwelling on the literature on service quality. 1994. heterogeneity and perishability (Zeithaml et al. Therefore. there is a general agreement that the 22 items are reasonably good predictors of service quality in its entirety. 1981). On the other hand. the service product or the core service. namely. and the image/goodwill a service ® rm could establish for itself in terms of being responsible to the society in which it operates. such as the features associated with a service. Gronroos (1982) also subscribed to this view. systematization /standardization of service delivery in order to establish the seamlessness in service. heretofore. 1991. (2) to develop an instrument to measure customer perceived service quality based on the identi® ed factors. Both the organizational behaviour literature and the marketing literature have recognized the diþ erences in organizational dynamics that exist between the management of services and goods (Schneider & Bowen.. 1985). and `mental’ intangibility. 1994. Cronin & Taylor. 1985. understanding how these de® ning features of services may warrant diverse strategies for marketing services has been the dominant interest of the marketing people. forms the keystone for all the other works.e. However. etc.e. 1985. the need and the logic for an independent treatment of services marketing centre on the subsistence of diverse attributes of services which are repeatedly cited in the literature: intangibility. (1988).. employee dress.

Also. if the prototypical service diþ ers from the prototypical good. i. based on qualitative research. The initial results.. 1993). 1985.. 1980. 1988) resulted in a 22-item scale. reliability.. 1985). courtesy. Maister. (1988) with respect to conceptualization and measurement of service . Mills and Moberg (1982) highlighted that in service transactions. inventoried. to a great extent. on the facts and information furnished by the customer. The control and management of social events calls for certain special skills and techniques (Stebbing. observe performance and later form performance perceptions. Thomas. Cronin and Taylor (1992) controverted the framework of Parasuraman et al. 1988. 1980.. Zeithaml et al.e. responsiveness. from customer to customer and from day to day (Zeithaml et al. 1985). Variability of service expectations is the hallmark of all services. 1990). then the systems by which these goods and services are produced and marketed will also vary. yielded 10 dimensions of service quality that included tangibles. communication and understanding the customer. Zeithaml and Berry (see Parasuraman et al. instead of counting on earlier dimensions of goods quality in the manufacturing sector. 1978. the raw material to be converted to service output depends. formulated a measure of service quality derived from data on a number of services. Most services actually consist of acts and interactions. then consumed. 1975. responsiveness. services vary on a continua not only from goods but also from each other. 1985). they cannot be saved and used later in times of need or emergency (Bessom & Jackson. i. 1985. based on some focus group ® ndings. Further empirical scrutiny (Parasuraman et al. called `SERVQUAL’ . credibility. The background literature on service quality The credit for heralding the service quality research goes to Parasuraman. a comparison to excellence in service by the customer. clients play a crucial role in in¯ uencing the outcome of the transformation process as well.g. Bateson (1979) argued that intangibility is the precise goodsservices diþ erentiation on which all other diþ erences are based. Goods are ® rst produced.SERVICE QUALITY 113 outcome of a particular service. while services consist of social acts or interactions and exist in time only (Berry. fundamentally. security. variabilit y of service expectations. i. 1978).. 1982). access. competence. sold. Rust and Oliver (1994) noted that the SERVQUAL instrument captured the crux of what service quality might mean. which are typically social events. 1980). simultaneity of production and consumption. The authors de® ned service quality as the degree of discrepancy between customers’ normative expectations for the service and their perceptions of the service performance. Gronroos. The authors.e. which measures service quality based on ® ve dimensions. reliability. Products are tangible objects that exist in both time and space. tangibles.. then produced and consumed simultaneously because they cannot be inventoried (Berry. Services are perishable. assurance and empathy. car rental and restaurant service) can vary from producer to producer. service organizations are frequently in trouble in terms of matching supply and demand (Zeithaml et al. medical examination. 1985). As services are performances that cannot be inventoried. In their empirical work. they all converge to one issue. especially those with a very high labour content (Parasuraman et al. Zeithaml et al. perishability and participatory role of consumers.e. The entire approach was formulated on the tenet that customers entertain expectations of performances on the service dimensions. Although the diþ erent models oþ ered by various researchers diþ er in the weights they assign to the several discriminating features of services such as intangibility. Inseparability of production and consumption stems from the concurrent creation and consumption that delineates the majority of services (Carmen & Langeard. services are usually sold ® rst. Bowen and Schneider (1988) summarized that. The characteristic and the sum and substance of a service (e.. viz.

measurement and applications of SERVQUAL across diþ erent industrial settings (for a detailed discussion. 1990. 1986. Various authors . but also the discrepancy between perceived service and adequate service (labelled as measure of service adequacy. 1985. (1994a) responded to the concerns of Cronin and Taylor (1992) and Teas (1993) by demonstrating that the validity and alleged severity of many of those concerns were questionable. This triggered an interesting controversy in service quality research. equipment. S. 1993a. In another empirical work. design and decor elements. 1991. reliability. 1993). 1993) and SERVQUAL’s dimensionality across various service scenes (Carman. 1993.e. 1995. b. cognitive and emotional ways. 1996a. i. critics of SERVQUAL have also disputed the logic and requirement behind the measurement of expectations (Cronin & Taylor. employee dress. 1992. Of the ® ve SERVQUAL dimensions. The critical dimensions of service quality From the foregoing discussions. personnel and communication materials on customers. the decipherment and operationalization of expectations (Teas. Norman. Schneider et al. Finn & Lamb. relate to this aspect. (1994b) revamped SERVQUAL’s structure to embody not only the discordance between perceived service and desired service (labelled as measure of service superiority. 1994. In another empirical work. (1988) in addressing the critical dimensions of service quality is in question. 1992. The eþ ect of this atmospherics. namely. popularly known as `servicescapes’ (Bitner. four. It was concluded that the EP model could overcome some of the problems associated with the P± E gap conceptualization of service quality. 1993. Parasuraman et al.). pertains to the eþ ect of physical facility. the reliability and validity of SERVQUAL’ s diþ erence-score formulation (Babakus & Boller.. Bitner (1992) elucidated how these servicescapes in¯ uence both employees and customers in physiological. Mills & Morris. The ® fth one. Parasuraman et al. or MSA). The notability of the element of human interaction/intervention in the service delivery has been. Antithetically. 1996). 1991). for the simple reason that a careful examination of the scale items divulges that the items at large focus on the human aspects of service delivery and the remaining on the tangibles of service (like the eþ ect of atmospherics. 1994). appearance of equipment.. Schneider & Bowen. responsiveness. etc. or MSS). 1992). and propounded a performance-based measure of service quality called `SERVPERF’ by illustrating that service quality is a form of consumer attitude. the tangibles. Parasuraman et al. SURESHCHANDAR ET AL. does aþ ect customers in myriad manners.g.. They argued that the performance-based measure was an enhanced means of measuring the service quality construct. assurance and empathy. (1994a) elaborated that though their approach for conceptualizing service quality could and should be revised. b. it is palpable that the SERVQUAL instrument has in fact generated bounteous interest in service quality measurement. without an iota of scepticism. 1994). acclaimed and reiterated by various other researchers as well (e. The author developed alternative models of perceived service quality based on evaluated performance (EP) and normated quality (NQ). Stebbing. see Buttle. quality. 1992. The point worth debating here is that the comprehensiveness of the 22-item scale proposed by Parasuraman et al. Brown et al.114 G. psychological. sociological. conceptualization. relinquishing it altogether in preference of the alternate approaches proclaimed by Cronin and Taylor and Teas did not seem warranted. Teas (1993) investigated conceptual and operational issues associated with a `perceptions-minus-expectations (P± E)’ service quality model. Harber et al. Several other works have also criticized the operationalization.

No matter how aþ able. processes and contexts for service. (3) The social responsibility of the service organization.SERVICE QUALITY 115 have also dealt with in detail the impact of these tangibles on the service perceptions by customers and their eþ ect on employees (Baker et al. procedures. 1988. the core service itself has discernible. while accentuating the signi® cance and germaneness of these two momentous dimensions. Even if a doctor is on time and sympathetic and understanding to his patients. an inappropriate will. which has been eþ ectively addressed by the SERVQUAL. Upah & Fulton.. 1989. Berry & Clark. people would feel hesitant and frightened to travel on the airline if they perceived that the ¯ ight provided by it was unsafe. 1985. . The quality of this core service largely in¯ uences and sometimes may be the ultimate determinant of the overall service quality from the viewpoint of the customers (Schneider & Bowen. the patients may not perceive his service quality as high if the doctor lacks competence in diagnosing the diseases or administering the drugs. Sundstrom & Altman. To put everything in a nutshell. Even though the passengers on an aeroplane are treated well by the aircrew and the hostesses. tangible and multidimensional quality features that could discriminate services and could preponderate over other issues such as delivery. or lousy music. What is delivered is as substantial as how it is delivered. amiable and courteous a bank’s personnel are to the customers. 1995). but also encompasses other critical factors. It has two distinct and disparate features: (1) Human element of service delivery. 1986. modern equipment. systems and technology that would make a service a seamlessness one. such as: (1) The service product or the core service. The features that make up any service execute a powerful in¯ uence on the quality perceptions of customers. Zeithaml et al. that they tend to overlook that there is also something called the `core service’ . A discussion on each of these factors along with the justi® cation of the choice of these elements are adduced next. (2) The processes. poor ® nancial advice. The service product or core service The core service portrays the `CONTENT’ of a service. a bank’s loan disbursal service with an associated credit terms and repayment modalities is a service product. stylish uniforms and terri® c signs can never countervail for bad/mediocre food. (2) Systematization/standardization of service delivery (the non-human element). Schneider and Bowen (1995) also argued that fancy facilities. one should also admit as apodictic that the highly subjective concept of service quality not only con® nes to the realms of these elements. But. Rust and Oliver (1994) de® ned that the service product is whatever service `features’ are oþ ered. if the bank fails to oþ er a broad range of services/or more features in every service it provides.. the customer may not attach a very high value to the quality of service it oþ ers. Schneider and Bowen (1995) clari® ed that many a time managers become so involved with all the procedures. Systematization of service delivery (non-human element) The service delivery represents the `HOW’ of a service. Hauser and Clausing (1988) also demonstrated the in¯ uence of diverse product (or service) attributes on customers’ perceptions. To quote an example. 1985).

Tangibles of service (servicescapes). Zemke and Schaaf (1990) quoted a study of 1500 consumers by Cambridge Reports. For example.g. a Massachusetts-based research ® rm.) plays a crucial role in establishing the seamlessness in service delivery. 1. Systematization of service deliveryÐ non-human element. Human element of service delivery. The proposed framework for measuring service quality On the basis of the ® ndings and observations outlined in the preceding sections. should be treated the same’ ’ . but not at the expense of quality. Spenley (1994) posited that the basic business processes go a long way to substantiating the quality of an organization’s products or services. would certainly be adored and appreciated by the customers. These subtle. They were also concerned about getting good service at a reasonable price. The second aspect is as crucial as the ® rst one. Milakovich (1995) noted that process improvement has become the prime focus of the service quality revolution. social responsibility helps an organization to lead as a corporate citizen in encouraging ethical behaviour in everything it does. it does contribute to the formation of the quality perceptions by customers. etc. but also has a responsibility to the society in which it exists. computerization. Customers would always like and expect the service delivery processes to be perfectly standardized. as a mechanism to transmute knowledge and respond to customers faster than the competitors. big or small. (1995) explained that the overall quality of the products or services could be made better by improving the quality of the processes either directly or indirectly. The items . a hospital that gives free treatment to the economically downtrodden. 1998) under the heading `Company responsibility and citizenship’ . This critical factor has seldom found a place in the quality management literature. A study conducted by `Consumer Reports’ on customers of non-banking ® nancials (Zemke & Schaaf. an educational institution that grants scholarships for the poor. namely: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Core service or service product. Social responsibility. a survey instrument consisting of 41 items has been developed by the authors of this study. as he observed that the key to total quality service (TQS) depends on understanding the process. The point which merits articulating here is that an organization cannot count only on ® nancial performance to survive in this ever-changing scenario of global competition. In essence. Social responsibility In addition to abetting as a potential market signal. Enhancement of technological capability (e. or a ® nancial institution that provides loans to needy ones with less rigid loan conditions. networking of operations. elements send strong signals towards improving the organization’s image and goodwill and consequently in¯ uencing the customers’ overall evaluation of service quality and their loyalty to the organization. Albeit this feature sounds highly abstract and intangible. even though it does come into picture in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria (Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Guidelines. 1990) found that one of the predominant consumer concern on service quality was: ``Equal treatment tempered by pragmatism. but nevertheless forceful.). Ahire et al. S. which found that 44% of the respondents indicated that `ease of doing business with’ was the fundamental reason for choosing a ® nancial ® rm. stemming from the belief that everyone. streamlined and simpli® ed so that they could receive the service without any hassles. it is postulated that service quality is based essentially on ® ve dimensions (see Fig.116 G. SURESHCHANDAR ET AL. hiccups or undesired/inordinate questioning by the service providers.

oþ ering more number of service options for a given transaction). Eight items are also supplemented so as to address eþ ectively and realistically all the facets of these two dimensions (i.SERVICE QUALITY 117 Figure 1.e. under the dimensions `human element of service delivery’ and `servicescapes’ are primarily based on the SERVQUAL instrument. systematization of service delivery and social responsibility) items are framed suitably in order to measure the same. etc. (a) maintaining error-free records and (b) modern equipment have been deleted from SERVQUAL as it was felt that the ® rst one is irrelevant in this era of computerization and the second one is too generic and has been taken care of in other items under the dimension `servicescapes’ .e. One item. core service. i. . ® ve items have been retained as they are and 14 items have been slightly modi® ed/clubbed together and subsequently reduced to 10 items as opined by experts in this ® eld during the content validity checking. Two items. weekdays. Items have been modi® ed largely because in those cases it was felt that a reformed statement might represent a better and distinct measure of the aspect intended to measure.). The critical factors of customer perceived service quality. i. extended service hours during evenings. added. i. For the other three dimensions (i. `convenient business hours’ has been modi® ed and put under the dimension `core service’ . (5) Convenient operating hours and days (e. working on Saturdays and Sundays.g.g. (4) Availabilit y of more service operations in most branches/departments of the service organization. (3) Service innovation. retained and deleted are illustrated in Tables 1± 4.e. The items that are classi® ed under these dimensions are as follows: Core service (1) Diversity and range of services. The items that are modi® ed. human element of service delivery and servicescapes). (2) Intensity and depth of service (e.e.e.

(3) Enhancement of technological capability (e. Human element of service delivery 4.) to serve customers more eþ ectively. 7. (4) Degree to which the procedures and processes are perfectly foolproof. big or small. List of modi® ed items Modi® ed items in the present instrument Eþ ectiveness of customer grievance procedures and processes Apprising the customers of the nature and schedule of services available in the organization Willingness to help customers and the readiness to respond to customers’ requests Employees who instil con® dence in customers by proper behaviour Making customers feel safe.g. every one. Social responsibility (1) Equal treatment stemming from the belief. 10. Items originally in SERVQUAL Dependability in handling customers’ service problems Keeping customers informed about when services will be performed (a) Willingness to help customers (b) Readiness to respond to customers’ requests Employees who instil con® dence in customers Making customers feel safe in their transactions Employees who are consistently courteous Employees who have the knowledge to answer customers’ questions 3. (2) Having a highly simpli® ed and structured delivery processes so that the service delivery times are minimum. (a) Giving customers individual attention (b) Employees who deal with customers in a caring fashion (c) Having the customers’ best interests at heart Providing services at the promised time (a) Visually appealing facilities (b) Visually appealing materials associated with the service Providing services as per the promised schedule Visually appealing materials and facilities associated with the service Servicescapes Systematization of service delivery (1) Having a highly standardized and simpli® ed delivery process so that services are delivered without any hassles or excessive bureaucracy. networking of operations. 9. (2) `Service transcendence’ Ð making customers realize their unexpressed needs by giving more than what they expect. (5) Adequate and necessary personnel for good customer service. SURESHCHANDAR ET AL. S. 5. Table 1. 8. (6) Adequate and necessary facilities for good customer service. secure. etc. computerization. satis® ed and delighted in their transactions Employees who are consistently pleasing and courteous Employees who have the knowledge and competence to answer customers’ speci® c queries and requests Giving caring and individual attention to customers by having the customers’ best interests at heart Dimension in the proposed instrument No. should be treated alike. . 6. 2.118 G. 1.

e. ventilation. List of added items No. symbols. (5) A social responsibility characterized by deserving service to people belonging to all strata of the society (e. 4. etc. List of retained items No. Servicescapes Table 3. down town areas. pamphlets and other artifacts in the organization Dimension in the proposed instrument 2. Providing services as promised Providing services right the ® rst time Prompt service to customers Employees who understand the needs of their customers Employees who have a neat and professional Dimension in the proposed instrument Human element of service delivery Servicescapes Table 4. Deleted items Maintaining error-free records Modern equipment (3) Giving good service at a reasonably minimal cost. Retained items 1. (7) Extent to which the organization leads as a corporate citizen. etc. List of retained items No. Having the necessary skills and ability and. regular. odour. giving loans to economically and socially downtrodden people. 4. Human element of service delivery 3.e. more importantly. etc. the willingness of the employees for actions whenever a critical incident takes place (i. the degree to which the organization succeeds in bringing the condition back to normalcy by satisfying the customer Extent to which the feedback from customers is used to improve service standards Regularly apprising the customers about information on service quality and actual service performance versus targets in the organization The ambient conditions such as temperature. (4) Having branch locations in most places convenient to all sections of the society (e. . advertisement boards. when a problem arises). sincere and without going on strike). remote villages. 5. 2. 8. 1. 2.g. ¯ exible repayment modality and easy credit terms.g. etc. needy ones. with less rigid loan conditions such as security. and the level to which it promotes ethical conduct in everything it does. noise. Newly added items 1. 5. when a problem arises) Whenever a critical incident takes place (i. entrepreneurs. 6. prevailing at the organization’s premises Having house keeping as a priority and of the highest order in the organization Physical layout of equipment and other furnishings is comfortable for the customers to interact with employees Visually appealing signs. (6) A sense of public responsibility among employees (in terms of being punctual. in the case of banks. 7.).). 3. but not at the expense of quality.SERVICE QUALITY 119 Table 2.

G. It is hoped that the ® ndings of the study will help to advance an archetype of service quality based on the identi® ed ® ve factors in order to comprehend better the concept of service quality and its constituents. 4. 77± 115. 10. Ganesh. & Parasuraman. A. Lamb. Berry.M. Journal of Retailing.W. Marketing Services Institute. e. The operationalization of the instrument is based on the performance-based approach proposed by Cronin and Taylor (1992). Ferrell. very good) can be used for all items to ensure high statistical variabilit y among survey responses. 30. pp. health care. L. The dimensions and the items (vis-a-vis the parlance) are highly ¯ exible.Y.L. Bateson. MA. Bessom. Brown & C. D. 253± 268. (1979) Why we need service marketing? In: O.. 8. University of North Texas. pp. ® nance (banking. 33± 42. travel. Marketing Consumer Services: New Insights.W. as construed in the preceding sections. (1995) Total quality management: a literature review and an agenda for future research. The instrument can also be used as a good predictor of customer satisfaction when measured in the context of multiple experiences of customers with the service organizations. pp. Babakus. Jr (Eds) Conceptual and Theoretical Developments in Marketing (Chicago. but are also predicted as the vision of the future.L. Report No. 24± 29. (1986) Four ways to make services more tangible. in the sense that Á the items can be modi® ed to suit any service category. Cambridge. L. A seven-point Likert scale (1. and it is hoped that the present research work will help other researchers and practitioners to use the instrument as a tool so as to measure the level of customer perceived service quality in the various service organizations. very poor. This paper has identi® ed ® ve critical factors of service quality that include those dimensions that are already addressed by the existing instruments and those that are overlooked in the literature. S. Berry.W.C. S. Summary The service sector has grown by leaps and bounds in economies throughout the globe. pp. American Marketing). With the service sector blossoming into the purview of both business and academia.g. Journal of Business Research. SURESHCHANDAR ET AL. D. & Jackson. 53± 54. 163± 177. Bateson. 7. J. Acknowledgement The authors wish to express their thanks to Professor Gopala K. & Clark. Journal of Retail Banking. Business. .W.. pp. J. Landeros. References Ahire. R. 277± 306. (1988) The marketing impact of branch facility design. This study is seen as yet another endeavour to invigorate further the service quality revolution that is already taking place at a phenomenal pace. The details of the instrument with ® ve dimensions and the corresponding items are presented in the Appendix. Baker.120 G. E. G. pp. non-banking ® nancial institutions and insurance).E. education and hotels.G. Production and Operations Management. Berry. (1992) An empirical assessment of the SERVQUAL scale. pp. 137± 149. it is a truism that the services marketing literature and research have swelled enormously in recent years.L. A comprehensive instrument framework has also been proposed which can be used to measure and understand customer perceptions of service quality. & Golhar. (1980) Service marketing is diþ erent. Business. J. L. L.S. 24. and given the fact that marketing of services is diþ erent from goods marketing in a plenitude of ways. Given this. (1975) Service retailingÐ a strategic marketing approach. T. & Boller. construction. for his valuable suggestions and comments on the earlier version of this paper.E. (1977) Do we need service marketing?. services are not only meaningful. R.

L. 726± 735. J. K.. 30.. research agenda. pp.. 68. 695± 705. & Morris. 105± 111. 59.A. & Barclay. 63± 73. . 66. R. 140± 147. & Zeithaml. 49. V...W..K. E. Rust. (Provo. In: R. pp. L. pp. W. Cronin. V. Schneider. T. (1980) Growth strategies of service ® rms. pp. 7± 22. M. (1988) Services marketing and management: implications for organizational behaviour. Harvard Business Review.. (1982) Strategic Management and Marketing in the Service Sector (Helsingfors. 70. Parasuraman. R. 28± 46. validity. Oliver (Eds) Service Quality: New Directions in Theory and Practice (London.E. p. 10. Mills. (1982) Perspectives on the technology of service operations. Association for Consumer Research). 55± 68.T. (1990) Consumer perceptions of service quality: an assessment of the SERVQUAL dimensions. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management.L. (1994a) Reassessment of expectations as a comparison standard in measuring service quality: implications for further research.H. 588± 601. J. pp. 10. and use of strategically focused employee attitude surveys. pp. & Clausing. 420± 450. pp. Journal of Marketing. C. Churchill. 43± 80. E. Carman. 1± 20. European Journal of Marketing. Zeithaml. & Berry. Hauser. Norman.P. Bowen. Burgess. 111± 124. Parasuraman. P. (1994) Service quality: insights and managerial implications from the frontier.In: R.M. V. 8± 32. Solomon (Eds) Advances in Consumer Research. Academy of Management Review. A. Maister. pp.A. Personnel Psychology. 127± 139. 7. L. Journal of Retailing. Journal of Retailing. & Barclay.A. L.M. Strategic Management Journal.I. 11.J. Reicheld. Holman & M. 12± 40. FL. 67. Academy of Management Review. A. pp. (1993a) Total quality management as a cultural intervention: an integrative review.K.H. Journal of Marketing. (1993b) Total quality management as a cultural intervention: an empirical study. 56. pp. 10. J. C. J. (1993) More on improving service quality measurement. Journal of Marketing. 56. pp. Finn.A.E. 69. Spring. (1995) Improving Service Quality (Delray Beach. & Berry.W. pp. V.J. D. & Zeithaml. (1986) Clients as partial employees of service organizations: ole development in client participation. pp. Parasuraman. pp. & Langeard. Levitt. (1978) A service-oriented approach to the marketing of services. 201± 230. Brown. Jr & Peter.J. R. C. & Carr. Parasuraman.J. Gronroos. (1988) The house of quality. J.) The Service Economy (New York. critique. Scheuing (Ed. 17± 27. Ashworth. Gronroos. F. pp. 58. pp. European Journal of Marketing. & Berry. Journal of Retailing. S. (1996a) Design. (1985) A conceptual model of service quality and its implications for future research. Berry.R. (1991) Re® nement and reassessment of the SERVQUAL scale. Journal of Retailing. (1992) Measuring service quality: a re-examination and extension. John Wiley).L. pp. S. D.M. Carman.. G. & Sasser. 69.A. (1991) Service Management (West Sussex. Berry.L. 467± 478. pp.L. & Taylor. Burgess. & Berry. Zeithaml. 41± 50. L. A. (1992) Servicescapes: the impact of physical surroundings on customers and employees. A. UT.T. Research in Organizational Behaviour.L. pp. pp. Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Guidelines (1998) US Department of Commerce and Technology Administration. & Taylor. G. pp. J. S. Cronin. D.. & Lamb. T. In: E.D. A. 58. (1994b) Alternating scales for measuring service quality: A comparative assessment based on psychometric and diagnostic criteria. & Oliver. pp. Jr (1991) An evaluation of the SERVQUAL scales in a retail setting. Milakovich. F. Jr (1990) Zero defections: quality comes to services. NIST. (1993) Improving the measurement of service quality.. 18.. (1981) Marketing intangible products and product intangibles. Zeithaml. V. A. B. & Moberg. Jour nal of Retailing. 49.A. L. J. Mills. A.H. Jour nal of Marketing. Harber. Buttle. & Schneider. Jour nal of Marketing. L.L. D. 1. Harvard Business Review. 66. pp. Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration). D. 125± 131. Zeithaml.J. (1982) Managing service enterprises in the eighties.L.A. D. Journal of Retailing. Sage Publications).. Parasuraman.A. KCG Productions). 12. pp.SERVICE QUALITY 121 Bitner.C. V. St Lucie Press). D. Harvard Business Review.A. Parasuraman. B. 33± 55. (1996) SERVQUAL: review. (1994) SERVPERF versus SERVQUAL: reconciling performance-based and perceptions-minus-expectations measurement of service quality. Harber.R.. (1988) SERVQUAL: a multiple-item scale for measuring consumer perceptions of service quality. 57± 71. Rust & R. D. L. K.. 94± 102. E. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management. P. Higgs.

175± 209. when a problem arises). the willingness of the employees for actions whenever a critical incident takes place (i.K. G. D. Free Press).K. (4) Availabilit y of more service operations in most branches/departments of the service organization. A. 11. pp. and consumers’ perceptions of quality. (1990) The Service Edge (USA. Teas. the degree to which the organization succeeds in bringing the condition back to normalcy by satisfying the customer. pp. Zemke. Zeithaml. Parasuraman. Suprenant (Eds) The Service Encounte r (Lexington. weekdays.R. Organizational Dynamics. L. (3) Service innovation. D. D.E. (1993) The service organization: human resources management is crucial. A.). (5) Convenient operating hours and days (e. oþ ering more number of service options for a given transaction. 21. pp. Schneider.. SURESHCHANDAR ET AL. pp. & Fulton. & Altman. & Bowen. J. Human element of service delivery (1) Providing services as promised. pp. pp. Parasuraman. Organizational Dynamics. R. (2) Having the necessary skills and ability and. pp.122 G. (1985) Situation creation in services marketing. (1993) The nature and determinants of customer expectations of service. 1± 12. (1996) The behavioural consequences of service quality. Journal of Marketing. & Guzzo. performance evaluation. Journal of Marketing. Chapman & Hall). Teas. (1993) Quality Management in the Service Industr y (West Sussex. A. & Berry. Zeithaml. Sundstrom.E. 49.) (1994) Total Quality ManagementÐ A Peratec Executive Brie® ng (London. A. pp. Upah. V. (1978) Strategy is diþ erent in service business. (1996b) Creating a climate and culture for sustainable organizational change. . Czepiel.A. Appendix: Instrument for measuring customer perceptions of service quality 1. D. etc.A.L. Berry. & Berry.. P. Harvard Business School Press). Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management.E. R. Schneider. L. 1± 30. & Parasuraman. Penguin Books). & Schaaf. Journal f the Academy of Marketing Science. Zeithaml. Organizational Dynamics. 21. extended service hours during evenings. A. Schneider. 31± 46. 423± 433. Thomas. B.D. & Bowen. pp. (1989) Physical environments and work-group eþ ectiveness. 56. Zeithaml. R. MA. D.A. Ellis Horwood). Schneider.e.A. Solomon & C. & Niles-Jolly.. 33± 46. (1993) Expectations. (Ed.M. more importantly. V. 10. L.E.L.g. S. (1990) Delivering Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations (New York. 132± 139. October. Jour nal of Marketing. B. (1994) Creating the climate and culture of success. 39± 52. D. 70.g. Research in Organizational Behaviour.E.e. Harvard Business Review. In: J. B. B.K.A. Core service or service product (1) Diversity and range of services.. working on Saturdays and Sundays. & Bowen. 18± 34. B. (1985) Employee and customer perceptions of service in banks: replication and extension. Spenley. (3) Whenever a critical incident takes place (i. (1994) Expectations as a comparison standard in measuring service quality: an assessment of a reassessment. Schneider. L. Journal of Marketing. R. 255± 264. (2) Intensity and depth of service (e. 2. Schneider. (1985) Problems and strategies in services marketing. MA. K. B. Berry. when a problem arises). M.P. L. January. (1992) Personnel/human resources management in the service sector. V. I. pp. V. Stebbing. E.L. Gunnarson. Lexington Books). April. pp. & Bowen. & Parasuraman. S... 158± 165.L. (1995) Winning the Service Game (Boston. Brief. Journal of Applied Psychology.

(9) Extent to which the feedback from customers is used to improve service standards. (16) Giving caring and individual attention to customers by having the customers’ best interests at heart. (5) Adequate and necessary personnel for good customer service. (17) Employees who understand the need of their customers. should be treated alike. etc. (12) Making customers feel safe. big or small. (6) Apprising the customers of the nature and schedule of services available in the organization. (11) Employees who instil con® dence in customers by proper behaviour. . networking of operations. odour. (3) Having house keeping as a priority and of the highest order in the organization. (7) Prompt service to customers. pamphlets and other artifacts in the organization. (13) Employees who are consistently pleasing and courteous. (4) Visually appealing signs.SERVICE QUALITY 123 (4) Providing services right the ® rst time. (15) Eþ ectiveness of customer grievance procedures and processes.) to serve customers more eþ ectively. symbols. (2) Having a highly simpli® ed and structured delivery process so that the service delivery times are minimum. noise. ventilation. (3) Enhancement of technological capability (e. (5) Employees who have a neat and professional appearance. (5) Providing services as per the promised schedule. (4) Degree to which the procedures and processes are perfectly foolproof. 3. (2) `Service transcendence’ Ð making customers realize their unexpressed needs by giving more than what they expect. computerization. prevailing in the organization premises. satis® ed and delighted in their transactions. etc. Systematization of service delivery: Non-human element (1) Having a highly standardized and simpli® ed delivery process so that services are delivered without any hassles or excessive bureaucracy. secure. (2) Physical layout of equipment and other furnishings are comfortable for the customers to interact with employees. advertisement boards. Social responsibility (1) Equal treatment stemming from the belief. 4.g. Tangibles of service (servicescapes) (1) The ambient conditions such as temperature. everyone. (10) Regularly apprising the customers about information on service quality and actual service performance versus targets in the organization. (8) Willingness to help customers and the readiness to respond to customers’ requests. (6) Adequate and necessary facilities for good customer service. (14) Employees who have the knowledge and competence to answer customers’ speci® c queries and requests. (6) Visually appealing materials and facilities associated with the service. 5.

with less rigid loan conditions such as security. down town areas.). ¯ exible repayment modality and easy credit terms. giving loans to economically and socially downtrodden people. SURESHCHANDAR ET AL. (7) Extent to which the organization leads as a corporate citizen. etc. in the case of banks. etc. and the level to which it promotes ethical conduct in everything it does. regular.g. but not at the expense of quality.124 G. sincere and without going on strikes). S. remote villages. . needy ones.g. (5) A social responsibility characterized by deserving service to people belonging to all strata of the society (e. (4) Having branch locations in most places convenient to all sections of the society (e. (3) Giving good service at a reasonably minimal cost.). (6) A sense of public responsibility among employees (in terms of being punctual. entrepreneurs. etc.