A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and Its Implications for Future Research

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A. Parasuraman, Valarie A. ZelthamI, & Leonard L Berry

A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and Its Implications for Future Research The attainment of quality in products and services has become a pivotal concern of the 1980s. While quality in tangible goods has been described and measured by marketers, quality in services is largely undefined and unresearched. The authors attempt to rectify this situation by reporting the insights obtained in an extensive exploratory investigation of quality in four service businesses and by developing a model of service quality. Propositions and recommendations to stimulate future research about service quality are offered.

"People want some wise and perceptive statemeni like. 'Quality is ballet, not hockey. ' "—Philip Crosby ( 1979)

UALITY is an and indistinct construct. QOften mistakenelusiveimprecise adjectives like for "goodness, or luxury, or shininess, or weight" (Crosby 1979), quality and its requirements are not easily articulated by consumers (Takeuchi and Quelch 1983). Explication and measurement of quality also present problems for researchers (Monroe and Krishnan 1983), who often bypass definitions and use unidimensional self-report measures to capture the concept (Jacoby, Olson, and Haddock 1973; McConneli 1968; Shapiro 1972). While the substance and determinants of quality may be undefined, its importance to firms and consumers is unequivocal. Research has demonstrated the strategic benefits of quality in contributing to market share and return on investment (e.g., Anderson and Zeithaml 1984; Phillips, Chang, and Buzzell 1983) as well as in lowering manufacturing costs and improv-

ing productivity (Garvin 1983). The search for quality is arguably the most important consumer trend of Ihe 1980s (Rabin 1983) as consumers are now demanding higher quality in products than ever before TLeonard and Sa.sser 1982, Takeuchi and Quelch 1983). Few academic researchers have attempted to define and model quality because of the difficulties involved in delimiting and measuring the construct. Moreover, despite the phenomenal growth of the service sector, only a handful of these researchers have focused on service quality. We attempt to rectify this situation by (1) reviewing the small number of studies that have investigated service quality, (2) reporting the insights obtained in an extensive exploratory investigation of quality in four service businesses, (3) developing a model of service quality, and (4) offering propositions to .stimulate future research about quality.

Existing Knowledge about Service Quality
A. Parasuraman and Valarie A. Zeithaml are Associate Professors of Marketing, and Leonard L. Berry is Foley's/Federated Profes&or of Retailing and Marketing Studies, Texas A&M University. The research reported \n this article was made possible by a grant from the Marketing Science Institute. Cambridge, MA.

Efforts in defining and measuring quality have comt largely from the goods sector. According to the prtvailing Japanese philosophy, quality is "zero defects—doing it right the first time." Crosby (1979)

Journal of Marketing Vol. 49 (Fall 1985), 41-50.

A Conceptual Model of Service Quality / 4 1

defines quality as "conformance to requirements." Garvin (1983) measures quality by counting the incidence of "internal" failures (those observed before a product leaves the factory) and "external" failures (those incurred in the field after a unit has been installed). Knowledge about goods quality, however, is insufficient to understand service quality. Three welldocumented characteristics of services^—intangibility, heterogeneity, and inseparability—must be acknowledged for a full understanding of service quality. First, most services are intangible (Bateson 1977, Berry 1980, Lovelock 1981, Shostak 1977). Because they are performances rather than objects, precise manufacturing specifications concerning uniform quality can rarely be set. Most services cannot...
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