Due to the fact that the customers are continuously changing and become more sophisticated, marketers have to adapt and keep up with the change. The demand for higher standards of services makes it difficult for the service providers to determine and control their services efficiently. The key is to understand the importance of the services provided and to allocate more attention in the attributes and dimensions that improves the quality of the service and gives the company a competitive advantage.
Quality in services
Competitive advantage can be achieved through service quality. Quality differentiates between strong and weak competitors (Sachdev, 2004). In service more than in manufacturing quality plays an important role. Service quality is seen in light of customer service management. Companies in the service sector are focusing more and more on service quality due to the increase competition coming from the constant emerging private sector, latest technological improvements and higher customer emancipation and requirements (Sachedev, 2004). In order to adapt to the current market situation private players make extensive use of technology in form of websites, e-mails, on line advertisements and call centers. This helps them have a more direct and easily access to the customer, thus decreasing the respond time. However, the down turn of this is that customers start becoming more demanding by making quick comparison between companies (Sharma, 2002). Customers demand higher quality standards and immediate access (Mittal, et al., 2004). This puts high pressure on companies to maintain and continuously improve the service quality.
Service quality can be explained in light of validity and reliability, response time, empathy with customers, and communication skills. High standard of service quality leads to lower costs, higher customer satisfaction, higher customer loyalty, and overall organizational profitability (Nalini and Samuel, 2011).
Service quality measurement
Quality measurement is divided into two approaches: internal and external. Each perspective has a different assumption and measure. The internal perspective defines quality as zero defects. In other words, the service has to be defect free and excellent from the start (Russell and Taylor, 2009). On the other hand the external perspective on service quality is defined in terms of customer perception, expectation, and satisfaction. Customer plays an important dictating the level of service quality. Moreover, customers have different needs, thus different expectations. This leads to the concept of ‘fitness for use’. In other words, the service needs to be according to what the customer expects it to be (Russell and Taylor, 2009). This level of quality should not be mistaken with the notion of perfect service.
Services should be designed with varying quality levels in order to accommodate the expectations of different customer’s expectations. Evans and Lindsay (1996 as cited in Russell and Taylor, 2009) identified seven dimensions that should be taken into account when looking at service quality: time, completeness, courtesy, consistency, convenience, accuracy, and responsiveness.
Timeliness is pivotal factor in service quality. It refers to the amount of time customer has to wait for a service. The aim here is to shrink as much of possible this amount of time. Completeness refers to the final service and if this is in line with the customer expectation. Courtesy refers to the way the customers are being treated. For example if the voice of a phone operator is pleasant and if he/she has a pleasant attitude. Consistency refers to similar services offered to all customers. Accessibility and convenience refers to the easiness of achieving the desired service. Accuracy refers to the correct nature of the service. For example, if a bank provides correct statements all the month to all customers. Responsiveness emphasizes...