Friday, July 11, 2008

Measures of Service Quality

Some argue that, while product quality can relatively easily be measured, service quality cannot. Work by Berry, et al, described below in Tenner & DeToro's book, Total Quality Management, refutes that argument.

For those of you who have experienced customer events around various services (and all of us have), think about what constitutes your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with those services, in light of the following Determinants of Service Quality:

"...Research by Len Berry, Parsu Parasuraman, and Valerie Zeithaml in the early 1980s provides a strong foundation for understanding the attributes of service quality. Through interviews with business executives and customer focus groups, Berry and his colleagues identified ten determinants of service quality. Their categories, which provide a useful complement to the eight dimensions offered by Garvin, are as follows:

1. Reliability: Consistency of performance and dependability; performing the right service right the first time; honoring promises; accuracy; responsiveness; willingness or readiness of employees to provide service; timeliness.

2. Competence: Possession of the skills and knowledge required to per-form the service.

3. Access: Approachability and ease of access; waiting time; hours of operation.

4. Courtesy: Politeness, respect, consideration, and friendliness of con-tact personnel.

5. Communication: Keeping customers informed in language they can understand; listening to customers; adjusting language to different needs of different customers; explaining the service
itself, how much it will cost, and how problems will be handled.

6. Credibility: Trustworthiness, believability, honesty; company reputation; personal characteristics of personnel.

7. Security: Freedom from danger, risk, or doubt; physical safety; financial security; confidentiality.

8. Understanding The Customer: Making the effort to understand the customer's needs; learning the customer's specific requirements; providing individualized attention; recognizing the regular customer.

9. Tangibles: Physical evidence of the service; physical facilities; appearance of personnel; tools or equipment used to provide service; physical representation of the service, such as a plastic credit card or a bank statement; other customers in the service facility..."

Following this initial work, Berry, et al, reduced the nine service criteria to five, and called them the RATER criteria.

Five "Rater" Criteria

"...As an outgrowth of their work in developing the ten determinants of service quality, Berry, Parasuraman, and Zeithaml distilled their list to five broader categories. Although they called this set "servqual," the five elements can easily be remembered through the acronym "rater." Some organizations find the list of ten characteristics to be confusing and overlapping, but others contend that essential details are lost by reducing it to only five elements. The five dimensions are listed below, and readers can chose for themselves which set they prefer.

1. Reliability: Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.

2. Assurance: Knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to inspire trust and confidence.

3. Tangibles: Physical facilities, equipment, and appearance of personnel.

4. Empathy: Caring, individualized attention the firm provides its customers.

5. Responsiveness: Willingness to help customers and provide prompt service..."

-Tenner & DeToro, Total Quality Management

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