Service Quality in the Public Service

Topics: Quality management, Public sector, Quality assurance Pages: 14 (7363 words) Published: June 25, 2014
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT AND MARKETING RESEARCH ♦ Volume 3 ♦ Number 1 ♦ 2010

SERVICE QUALITY IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
Prabha Ramseook-Munhurrun, University of Technology, Mauritius Soolakshna D. Lukea-Bhiwajee, University of Technology, Mauritius Perunjodi Naidoo, University of Technology, Mauritius
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this paper is to obtain a better understanding of the extent to which service quality is delivered within the Mauritian public service by drawing on front-line employees (FLE) and customer perceptions of service quality. The paper investigates how closely customer expectations of service and FLE perceptions of customer expectations match. SERVQUAL is used to measure service quality amongst FLE and customers in a major public sector department in Mauritius. The survey captures customers’ expectations of an excellent public service and compares these with their perceptions of the service delivered by a particular public service department in Mauritius. The paper also reports on a parallel SERVQUAL survey of FLE to examine how well they understand their customers’ expectations and how well its internal processes support the delivery of top quality public services. The findings reveal that while there is a significant shortfall in meeting customer expectations, the FLE appears to have a good understanding of what these expectations actually are. The FLE should focus on those dimensions which receive lowest ratings and attributes with high gap scores. This research adds to the body of knowledge relating to public service quality management. It will also be of interest to strategic and operational public service managers and to academics investigating the reliability and value of service quality assessment tools. It addresses key relationships between service dimensions and service quality within the Mauritian public service.

JEL: M31, M12
KEYWORDS: Service quality, SERVQUAL, Front-line employees, Customer expectations, Public sector, Mauritius
INTRODUCTION

T

he service industry plays an increasingly important role in the economy of many countries. In today’s global competitive environment delivering quality service is considered as an essential strategy for success and survival (Parasuraman et al., 1985; Reichheld and Sasser, 1990; Zeithaml et al., 1990). Even the public sector organizations have come under increasing pressure to deliver quality services (Randall and Senior, 1994) and improve efficiencies (Robinson, 2003). Customer needs and expectations are changing when it comes to governmental services and their quality requirements. However, service quality practices in public sector organizations is slow and is further exacerbated by difficulties in measuring outcomes, greater scrutiny from the public and press, a lack of freedom to act in an arbitrary fashion and a requirement for decisions to be based in law (Teicher et al., 2002).

Since Mauritius has gained independence in 1968, the public sector has undergone a number of transformations. In 2006, the Government has introduced the Public Service Excellence Award for the public department which excels in all spheres of its operations in order to increase productivity and efficiency (Government of Mauritius, 2006). The public sector is under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their services are customer-focused and that continuous performance improvement is being delivered. The purpose of this paper is thus to examine the service quality concepts and their application in the public service sector in Mauritius. The study uses the SERVQUAL approach to examine the gap between customers’ general expectations of a service and their perceptions of the service

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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1668833

P. Ramseook-Munhurrun, S.D. Lukea-Bhiwajee, P. Naidoo  IJMMR ♦ Vol. 3 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2010

received by a specific service provider. This paper investigates how closely customer expectations of service...

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