Service Quality and Student Satisfaction

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The college student market is currently influencing the expansion of university food services. Due to the dining unit options as well as increasing off campus competitors, college students are not tolerating poor quality of food served by university dining services. The college student market is currently influencing the development of institutional food service. To satisfy the basic nutritional needs of students, university and college food service operations need to deliver a variety of fresh, healthy and tasty food. Student food service is one of the competitive markets today, competing with other food service such as fast food and vending machines. Today’s college students are expecting more than the good food quality and nutritional value of the food they consume (Gramling et al., 2005). In addition, institutional food service operators need to keep up with the growing expectations of consumers about the overall dining experience. Thus, it is important for food service operators to fully recognize the wants of students and meet their needs.

The success of any food and beverage establishment lies in its ability to satisfy customers by providing a dining experience, comprising of both tangible and intangible elements and able to meet or exceed their expectations (Parasuraman et al., 1985; 1988). Students have expectations about the service they should receive from institutional food service and today they are more sophisticated and are exposed at an early age to variety of dining experiences including fast foods, ethnic cuisines and fine dining. These factors have influenced the attributes students use to evaluate institutional food service. To maintain participation levels and financial stability, school food service professionals should evaluate student’s satisfaction with food quality, variety and other variables that affect overall satisfaction.

Food, atmospheric and service quality are importance dimensions to measure customer satisfaction. Customers expect high quality of service in the restaurant and it same goes to the students who also expect to get a good quality of service from institutional foodservice provided at university or colleges. Customer’s satisfaction is often used to foresee the possibility of customers returning to a restaurant. Some studies (Yuksel and Yuksel, 2002; Oh, 2000) have shown that customer satisfaction is important to food service managers because it leads to repeat patronage, brand loyalty and new customers. It also same goes to service provider who involved in institutional foodservice, where they need to concern about students’ satisfaction in order to make sure that they are loyal and will return to the premise. Even though the literature supports the idea that food quality, atmosphere, service quality and price are predictors of customers’ satisfaction (Almanza et al., 1994; Lee, 2004) or revisit intention (Qu, 1997; Lee, 2004) few studies have actually investigated these factors in relation to the success of university food service facilities.

It shows that, it is important for food service operator to make sure that they will provide variety of food for students in order to attract them to dine at cafeteria or canteen. In Meyer and Conklin (1998) study, they found that variety of food offered and flavored of food highly influenced satisfaction. It also showed that quality of food plays an important role in achieving students’ satisfaction. There are many studied found that food, atmospheric and service quality also will influence customer satisfaction. In Kim et al. (2008) research, they found that another important implication for foodservice operators is that they should carefully design cafeteria interiors and exteriors to deliver a relaxed and comfortable dining atmosphere to attract new customers and to...
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