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By Zeithaml and Bitner, service quality was defined as a targeted measurement that reflected the customers perception of certain dimensions of services provided. The particular perception towards the dimensions of services was influenced by several factors which included the quality of the services received, the quality of the product, the price factor as well as both situational and personal factor (Zeithaml & Bitner, 2003).
For the past 30 years ending 2011, customer satisfaction has been an intensively discussion topic in terms of consumer and marketing research. By Wilkie (1990) and Perkins (1991), there have been over 1200 articles published about customer satisfaction research. The number of the articles published should be increased two or three times by now since the topic itself has managed to get greater extent of attention from scholars all over the world. In this study, the customer satisfaction mentioned directly to student satisfaction as students are considered as customers of the higher learning institutions. For this study, customer refers to institution students (MIS students); therefore, student's satisfaction towards services offered by MIS has become the one of the target point of the study.
According to McDougall and Levesque (2000), they defined customer satisfaction as "a cognitive or affective reaction that emerges in response to a single or prolonged set of service encounters." Customer satisfaction can be a multi-dimensional construct (Hu, Jay & Thanika, 2009; Bitner and Hubbert, 1994; Price, Arnould & Tierney, 1995; Sureshchandar et.al., 2002) or a one-dimensional construct (Cronin & Taylor, 1992). Disregarding for how customer satisfaction is measured, it is demonstrated that a satisfied customer will manifest their loyalty and give away positive word of mouth as per reported by Kim, Lee and Yoo (2006). Machleit and Mantel (2001) described customer satisfaction like the heart of all marketing actions and there is no wonder that customer satisfaction has been recognized as one of the most important determinants leading to customer loyalty. Regarding to the researcher's study with the above literature review, student's satisfaction will create positive word of mouth. Moreover, the satisfaction is going to contribute to create the student loyalty.
In case of higher learning institutions, the student satisfactions play an important role in determining the originality and accuracy of the education system. The situation is the higher the level of satisfaction experienced by the student, the better the student's ability to groom their skill development, course knowledge and mentality (Muhammad et al., 2010).
Zeithaml (1988) mentioned that the student satisfaction is an affirmation to measure how well effective an institution administrates itself as well as its educational system. Rodie and Klein (2000) admitted that if an institution occupied necessary educational facilities with affective teaching and training staff, the student will most likely be more stimulated, loyal and perform well in their academic.
Another point of view from Kotler and Clarke (1987), they defined satisfaction as a status felt by a person who has experienced the performance or a result that met his or her expectation. The expectation might go as far as before the students entered the higher education, suggesting that it was important to the researcher to firstly determine what the students expected before entering the higher education institutions (Palacio, Meneses and Perez, 2002). Conversely, Carey, Cambiano and De Vore (2002) thought that satisfaction actually covered problems of students' perception and experiences during their college years.
Hom, (2002) stated that most of the student satisfaction study focused on the perspective of customer, so researcher confronted an issue of making a standard definition for student satisfaction. For this reason, customer satisfaction theory was chosen and justified to illustrate the meaning of student satisfaction. By William, (2002) even though it is risky to view students as customers, in the current atmosphere of higher education market; there is a new ethical exception for students have become "customer". Students were tuition fee payers. Accordingly, their view should be heard and acted upon.
Relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction:
Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Bery (1994) mentioned the significant discussion and disagreement on the view of the relation between customer satisfaction and service quality, although noting little debate over the fact that they are closely associated. Carman (1990) and Parasuraman, et al. (1988) differentiated between the two based on the level at which they are assessed: customer satisfaction is a transaction-specific evaluation whereas service quality is a global evaluation. On this foundation, they stated that an accession of transaction specific assessments towards to a global assessment. In the other words, cumulative satisfying experiences lead to an assessment of quality in service.
Another opinion of Gold (2001), students is the basic customers of the academic institutions and should be assessed for the quality. Athiyaman (1997) turned to conclusion that there is positive and momentous relationship between quality of services presented and customer satisfaction. Ahmed et al. (2010) also found that provision of quality services is considerably related with customer satisfaction. As Spreng & Singh (1993) stated "Satisfaction is emotional reaction to a product or service experience". While looking at the causes of satisfaction it has been noticed that Satisfaction is a result of quality service (Shemwell et al. 1998, Cronin & Taylor, 1992 & Bolton & Drew, 1991). In the discussion about the customer (students) criteria for selection of academic institution, Veloutsou et al. (2004) found out that students employed quality as the primary criteria to choose and institute for admission and education. Additionally, Low (2000) also concluded that provision of better quality services is key source of lure, satisfy and retain students, which in result have direct bearing on financial resources, security of job and viability of educational institution.
Churchill and Suprenant (1982) posited that satisfaction is related to the size and direction of the disconfirmation experience. In their model, they define disconfirmation as the difference between prior expectations and actual performance. Thus, in higher education, when a student gets low expectations and the actual performance goes over those expectations, satisfaction is high. In contrary, when a student gets high expectations and actual performance is lower than expected, satisfaction is very low. In the situations where expectations and performance match, satisfaction reached the average. Conant, Brown, and Mokwa (1985) also advised that satisfaction was highest for student with lower initial expectations.
Studies into student satisfaction have come not from the service quality perspective, but from the study of student endurance and recruitment. In 1983, Hawes and Glisan proposed that student concern in the 1960s, decreasing growth rate since the 1970s, and the budgetary issues facing almost universities had created a big deal of interest in a marketing approach to the administration of universities. Johnson (1987), talking particularly about home economics programs and extensively about all the programs, claimed that the survival of some college and university programs may depend on their ability to recruit students.
By Bemoski (1991), he referred that colleges and universities have been unconsidered in asking what society wants from them in terms of skills and abilities to be conveyed to students and that they must know what it is that students want from their educational experience. From another author, Hampton (1983) stated that "today it is necessary to view students as consumers of education services, with specific needs and wants, and demanding corresponding levels of satisfaction"(p.170).
Gielow and Lee (1988) considered the leave of a student from an institution as an obvious signal of their dissatisfaction," voting with one's feet." Although, they made it clear there may interfere factors in attrition, they insisted on the significance of student satisfaction: although an affective measure, it may be argued that student satisfaction is one of the most direct tests of post secondary success... Given that individual students are the primary beneficiaries of the college experience, asking them how satisfied they are with those experiences is an obvious way to measure this success. Student satisfaction is also an educational result over which post secondary institutions have considerable influence.
Conant, Brown, and Mokwa (1985) made the view point that the study of student satisfaction has been a neglected topic in institutional planning and that it is a critical step in marketing and marketing orientation. Hampton (1983) emphasized that the key to attracting new students is in understanding the current satisfied student.
A study by Shim and Morgan (1990) examined the effects of several determinants on student's attitudes approaching their majors and satisfaction with their majors/departments. They found two factors to be most important among those students highly satisfied: they perceived course offerings as interesting and useful, and they tended to be satisfied with the university overall. Shim and Morgan recommended paying close attention to course and curricular evaluations by students to meet their needs for interesting and useful courses. As pointed out, general satisfaction with the university overall was the second most important predictor for satisfaction with one's major/department. However, from their research, it was not clear what factors affect satisfaction with a university. They recommended further investigation of factors which might affect over all university satisfaction such as academic standards, geographic location, tuition costs and financial aid, quality of faculty, social atmosphere, and career service. In this study, the researcher will use questionnaire to investigate some of the factors which they recommended.
Schmidt, Debevec, and Comm (1987), in their study of graduating students and those students's evaluation of satisfaction with their college, found that the most important factors were the quality of instruction and the faculty, the academic standards, and the college's helpfulness in finding employment after graduation. Hamash, Glezer and Meyer (1991) surveyed 2072 respondents in 176 courses from four departments in a community college. The major factor in course satisfaction was the teacher.
Chadwick and Ward (1987) gave away their view that the most important predictor of seniors' willingness to recommend the school to others was the value of their degree on the job market. Following, in order of importance, were quality of instruction and interaction with the faculty, skills learned in job communication effectiveness of the placement office, and helpfulness of the advisor. Hartley and Berkowitz (1983) reported that satisfied alumni were more likely to contribute financially and to recommend the school to others.
Service Quality Measurement
The most notable contribution towards the measurement of quality of a given service is by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1985). Their Service Quality (SERVQUAL) model which is a multi-item scale developed to assess customer perceptions of service quality in service and retail businesses (Parasuraman et.al., 1988). At least 293 important articles have been written from 1976 to 1995 on service quality and if consider article in which service quality forms a part of the published articles, the number would be more than 4000 articles (Philip & Hazlett, 1997). These numbers clearly shows the importance of service quality and the researcher's attentions to the topic.
The initial SERVQUAL model by Parasuraman (1985) consists of ten dimensions namely:
Reliability: How well does the service being delivered as promised
Responsiveness: How fast does the response be given to customers?
Competence: How well does the service provider possesses the knowledge and skill needed to serve the customers
Access: How convenient are customers able to access the service provider
Courtesy: How approachable does the staff of the service provider
Communication: How well does the service provider kept the customers informed
Credibility: How well does the service provider can be trusted
Security: How well does the service provider protect the privacy of customers?
Understanding of customer: How well does the service provider make its effort to understand the needs and wants of the customer?
Tangible: How well does the service provider equipped with tangible facilities to serve the customer.
Parasuraman and Berry (1991) later condensed the ten dimensions of service quality (SQ) into five dimensions which consist of 22 attributes. The newly condensed five dimensions of SQ are as follows:
Tangibles: The physical facilities, equipment that is needed to provide services
Reliability: The ability to deliver the desired service dependably, accurately and consistently.
Responsiveness: The ability to response to customers request on time
Assurance: The ability to convey trust and confidence to customers toward the services provided
Empathy: The ability to show personal caring and attention to customers.
The SERVQUAL instrument has demonstrated excellent validity and reliability in previous research (Babakus & Boller, 1992; Bolton & Drew, 1991; Cronin & Taylor, 1992). It is applicable to various industries, for example, the adaptation of the instruments in the professional service industries (Freeman & Dart, 1993), health care (Lam, 1997), and tourism (Tribe & Snaith, 1998). The evidence suggests that SERQUAL instrument can be applied to measure the service quality in education industry.
From all the above literature review, the researcher decided to develop a conceptual framework for the study. It is shown in figure 1.
Willingness of alumni to recommend the school to the others
Service quality dimensions