Article
ISSN: 2348-3784
Approaches for Measuring and Improving Service
Quality – A Critical Review
Nishithkumar H. Bhatt and Nikita Patel
Digital Object Identifier: 10.23837/tbr/2017/v5/n1/149497
Abstract
It’s a prime concern for service provider to improve quality of their services on continuous basis to achieve
sustainable competitive advantage, higher market share and profitability. Service quality can be measured
through how well services meet up customers' expectations. The purpose of this paper is to review the
literature and pin point different approaches available such as SERVQUAL, Kano model and Quality
function deployment model. The review will highlight characteristics; application and limitation of these
models through analysis of various studies conducted across the world and will suggest an extended model
toimproveservice quality.
Keywords: Service quality, SERVQUAL,Kano model,Quality function deployment
1.
Introduction
According to Parasuraman et al. (1985) service quality is the difference between predicted, or expected
service that is customer expectations and perceived serviced that is customer perceptions. In addition
to that they also mentioned that service quality is the degree of discrepancy between customers’
expectation from the service and their perception of service performance. Researchers are having
opinion that service quality plays an important role in achieving higher patronage, competitive
advantage,
sustained
profitability
(Brown
&
Swartz,
1989;
Headley
&
Miller,
1993);
corporate
marketing, enhancing financial performance (Buttle, 1996); and acts as a determinant of demand of
goods and services (Pai & Chary, 2013).Studies have proved that there is a direct link between service
qualityand increased marketshare, profit andsavings(Devlin &Dong, 1994).
TheGapModel
A conceptual framework for service quality was propounded by Parsuraman, et al. (1985) and it was
known as “Gap Model”. This model was based on the interpretation of qualitative data from extensive
exploratory research method such as focus group interview of consumers and in depth executive
interviews, carried out in four service categories: retail banking, credit card, securities brokerage, and
product repair and maintenance (Parsuraman, et al. 1985). They identified four distinctive gaps as
shown in Figure1 on the service provider’s side. These gaps can be major obstacles in attempting to
deliveraservice whichconsumer wouldperceiveasbeinghigh quality.
Gap1:Consumer expectation-Management perceptiongap
This gap revealed differences between customers’ expectations and management perceptions of
consumers’ expectations. This gap arises because of lack of proper market/customer focus such as
managementprocesses,marketanalysistoolsand attitude.
Gap2:Management perception-Service qualityspecificationgap
This gap revealed management’s inability in to translate customer expectations into service quality
specifications.
Dr. Nishithkumar H. Bhatt, Associate Professor, S. K. School of Business Management, Hemchandracharya, North
Gujarat University, Patan, Gujarat - 384265, India
Nikita Patel, Assistant professor, V. M. Patel Institute of Management, Ganpat University, Ganpat Vidyanagar,
Mehsana-Gozaria Highway, Kherva, Gujarat 384012, India
Approaches for Measuring and Improving Service Quality – A Critical Review
9
Gap3:Service qualityspecification-Servicedeliverygap
Preparing
or
setting
standards/guidelines
do
not
guarantee
high-quality
service
delivery
or
performance butit alsorequires properimplementation ofthesameby frontline staff.
Gap4:Servicedelivery–Externalcommunication gap
This gap explains the difference between service delivery and what is communicated about the service
to consumer through external communication. A Firm must ensure that its marketing and promotion
campaignmatteraccurately depicts the service they offerand the way itis delivered.
Thesefourgaps causeafifth gapthat isGap5.
Gap5:Expected Services-Perceived Services gap
Thesizeanddirection of abovefourgapsaredeterminantof expectedservices-perceivedservicesgap.
Gap5=f (Gap1,Gap2,Gap3, Gap4)
Figure1-TheGap Model
Consumer
Wordof mouth communication
Personalneeds
Pastexperience
Expected service
GAP5
Marketer
Perceived service
ServiceDelivery
(including pre-and post contacts)
GAP4
External
communication
to
GAP3
consumers
GAP1
Translation of perception in to servicequality perception
GAP2
Management Perception of consumerexpectation
Source:Reproduced fromBedi(2011)
2.SERVQUAL
Parsuraman, et al. (1985) through their investigation, come to the conclusion that consumer basically
used ten service quality dimensions in evaluating service quality such as “Reliability: Ability to execute
services as per the promise, Responsiveness: Eagerness to
help customers and providing fast service,
Access:
approachability
and
ease
of
contact,
Courtesy:
politeness,
respect,
consideration,
and
friendliness of contact personnel , Communication: effective listening to customer and make them well
informed in a language they understand, Credibility: trustworthiness, honesty and customers’ best
interest at heart, Security: freedom from danger, risk or doubt, Understanding/knowing customer:
making an effort to understand the customer’s needs, Tangibles: physical evidence of the service.
Further in their study in 1988, they collapsed these service quality dimensions in to the five dimensions
as defined in the Table 1.1 by keeping service quality dimensions reliability, responsiveness and
tangibles as it is and collapsed rest of the service quality dimensions in to two dimensions that is
assurance and empathy. SERVQUAL is a concise multi item scale (22 item scale) with good reliability
and validity. It has been designed as a generic measure, to be applicable across a broad spectrum of
service to measure service quality. When necessary it can be modified or supplemented to fit the
characteristics of particular service (Parsuraman, et al. 1988). This instrument was administered twice
in different form, first to measure expectation and second to measure perceptions for each of the five
service quality dimensions like Assurance, Reliability, Tangibility, Responsiveness and Empathy. Seven-
TSM Business Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, June 2017
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Approaches for Measuring and Improving Service Quality – A Critical Review
point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) was used to rate respondents
expectations and perceptions of performance and the results were then used to identify positive or
negative gaps (Parsuraman, et al. 1988). SERVQUAL is extensively used in various private and public
sectors such as retailing, healthcare, education, tourism and hospitality, financial services, B2B, real
estate and governmentas well.(Buttle,1996)
Table 1. SERVQUAL servicequalitydimensions
1
Tangibles
Infrastructuralaspectsofservicesandaesthetic of personnel
2
Reliability
Abilityto executeservicesas perthe promise
3
Responsiveness
Eagernessto helpcustomersandproviding fastservice
4
Assurance
Trustandconfidencegeneratingabilityofknowledgeableand courteous
employees
5
Empathy
Careand personalattention provided to the customers
Source:Reproducedfrom Parsuraman,et al. (1988)
ApplicationofSERVQUAL
If applied periodically, SERVQUAL can provide better understanding about prevailing service quality
trends(Parsuraman, et al.1988;Tan & Pawitra,2001).

It is used in categorising a firm’s customers into several perceived quality segments (e.g., High,
Medium and low) on the basis of their individual SERVQUAL scores. These segments can then
be analysed on the basis of their demographic, psychographic and/or other profiles, relative
importance of the five dimensions in influencing service quality perception and the reason
behind perceptionsof customers (Parsuraman, etal.1988).

It alters management to consider the perception of both management and customers (Tan &
Pawitra, 2001).

It is used to identify and priorities the areas of excellence and improvement through service
gap, which will provide a basis for formulating strategy and tactics to ensure the fulfillment of
expectation(Tan & Pawitra, 2001).
Criticism ofSERVQUAL
Despite its popularity and wide use of SERVQUAL, it has been criticized for number of theoretical and
operational aspects (Carman, 1990, Cronin & Taylor, 1992, 1994, Lee et. al, 2000, etc..). Following are
thecriticismsidentified in theoreticaland operationalaspects(Buttle,1996).

Theoretical

Model objections: SERVQUAL is based on a disconfirmation model rather than an attitudinal
model; and SERVQUAL fails to come out with acceptable economic, statistical and psychological
theory.

Gaps model: It is found that customers’ assess
service quality in terms of P – E gaps very
rarely.

Process focused: SERVQUAL focuses more on the process of service delivery, rather than the
outcomes of the service encounter.

Dimensionality: Five dimensions of SERVQUAL’s are not universal in nature; the number of
dimensions comprising Service Quality is contextualized; items do not always load on to the
factors according to one’s expectation, and high degree of intercorrelations is observed
betweenthe five dimensions.

Operational

Expectations:
the term
expectation
is
ambiguous
in
nature;
to
evaluate service quality,
consumers use standards other than expectations; and SERVQUAL fails to measure absolute
Service quality expectations.
TSM Business Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, June 2017