Expectations And Perception Of Service Quality Marketing Essay

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The banking industry is highly competitive, as banks are competing among each other and also with non-banks and other financial institutions Kayak and Kucukemiroglu, 1992; Hull, 2002. Banks provide nearly identical services and they can only distinguish themselves on the basis of price and quality of service (Bloemer, Ruyter, and Peeters, 1998). Service quality in banking implies consistently anticipating and satisfying the needs and expectations of customers (Imrie et. al., 2002). The service quality in banks leads to higher profits, credibility, and market share, lowering cost and improving productivity (Raddon 1987; Buzzell and Gale, 1987).

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Service quality is a broad concept which is very important in business and marketing. This chapter provides with an overview on various aspects of Service quality relating to the research. It defines the numerous definitions employed by academics and government. However, the prominent quality gurus such as Deming, Juran and Crosby were those who have shaped the dimensions, practices and mechanisms which underpin the concept although none of them actually uses the term (Dale et.al, 1994). The concept of quality was mostly associated with products that services some ages back. Over the years, business and customer’s need alter whereby the idea of service quality evolved (Lovelock, 2001). Service quality by its nature is an elusive, indistinct and abstract concept.

Nowadays quality is believed to be a multi – level construct with multiple dimensions making up each level (Blose and Tankersley, 2004). Conversely there are a wide-range of models, frameworks and discussion on service quality measurement in different contexts (Juntunen and Grant, 2010).

2.2 Services

The service sector is a very dynamic sector in advanced economies. Service sector is the lifeline for the social economic growth of a country. It is today the largest and fastest growing sector globally contributing more to the global output and employing more people than any other sector. There has been major evolution from the agricultural sector to the service sector over the last decades and the domination of the service sector presently is confirmed by the fact that 70% of the world GDP is realized on this sector (Grzinic 2007).

A Service is a type of economic activity that is intangible, is not stored and does not result in ownership. According to Lovelock (2001) a service is an act or performance offered by one party to another. Services are economic activities that create value and provide benefits for customers at specific times and places service. Groonroos (2003) defined service as activity of series of activities of a more or less intangible nature that usually but not essentially take place in interactions between the customers, service employees and physical resources or goods of the service provider which are provided as solutions to customer problems.

Services can be paraphrased in terms of their generic key characteristics. There are two which are commonly used namely; intangibility and simultaneity. Intangibility refers to perishability. Services cannot be touched, gripped, handled, looked at, smelled, and tasted. Thus, there is neither potential nor need for transport, storage or stocking of services. Simultaneity refers to heterogeneity (Groonroos 1984). Services are rendered and consumed during the same period of time. As soon as the service consumer has requested the service (delivery), the particular service must be generated from scratch without any delay and friction and the service consumer instantaneously consumes the rendered benefits for executing his upcoming activity or task.

Lovelock (2001) added other characteristics like the coincidence production and consumption at the same time as the service quality is usually created. Service is provided in contact with the consumer and that customer participation is sought during the process.

2.3 Definition of Quality

Quite a number of definitions for quality can be found the extant literature. Quality has been defined as those features of products which meet customer needs and thereby provide customer satisfaction (Juran 1991). Several writers have defined quality as “fitness for purpose”, conformance to specification, value based and among others. The difference between customer expectations of service and perceived service is another crucial element that determines quality service (Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry 1991). Quality is seen as the single most important force leading to the economic growth of companies in international markets (Reeves and Bednar, 1994) . While everyone understands and knows the concept of quality and various definitions of quality exist, there is no agreement on a consensus definition among the experts (Behesti and Lollar, 2003). Quality is also defined as the product or service’s ability to satisfy customer needs and expectations (Akan, 1995). Garvin (1983) measures quality from the rate of internal failures and external failures and how these are encountered by consumers.

2.4 Service Quality

Service quality is a concept that has achieved great interest and debates in research literature because of difficulties in defining and measuring it with no overall consensus (Zhao, Bai and Hui, 2002). There are various definitions of service quality. A famous definition of service quality is that the service should correspond to the customers’ expectations and satisfy their needs and requirements (Edvardsson 1998).

Service quality has been considered as the difference between customer expectations regarding a service to be received and perceptions of the service being received (Grönroos, 2001; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1988). In some earlier studies, service quality has been referred as the extent to which a service meets customers’ needs or expectations (Lewis & Mitchell, 1990; Dotchin & Oakland, 1994). It is also regarded as the consumer’s overall impression of the relative inferiority or superiority of the services (Zeithaml,Berry, & Parasuraman, 1990). In this competitive world, service quality among SMEs has become progressively more important in order to generate sustained competitive advantage.

Blose and Tankersley (2004) state that service quality is getting paramount importance everyday as service providers face more efficient and effective market competition both locally and worldwide. It is therefore more difficult to evaluate the quality services than quality of products because of certain distinctive characteristics of services they are intangible, variable, perishable and simultaneously produced and consumed (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2007). Zhao, Bai and Hui 2002 confirm that service quality is difficult to measure accurately, as services are heterogeneous which means their performance often varies with respect to the provider and the customer. Evardsson (1998) pointed out that though it is the customer who decides what is good or bad it does not mean that the service provider should always comply with customer’s needs . The customer is not always right.

In banking sector, service quality is a critical prerequisite for establishing and maintaining satisfying relationships with customers. Bank customers evaluate the services they are offered by comparing their expectations with the bank’s performance in terms of the service delivery system. Thus, service quality directly affects customer satisfaction. In order to successfully operate bank managers need to understand what customer want and how they assess the banking service quality. quality is an important factor for success in the banking sector. Thus, some bank managers emphasize the various dimensions of service quality (Glaveli et al., 2006).

2.4.1 Expectations and Perception of Service Quality

Expectations are needs of the consumers that they feel a provider should offer. A perception refers to evaluation of the service provider (Tang 2000). Research divides service quality into two categories: technical quality and functional quality (Gronroos, 1984; Parasuraman et all., 1985). The distinction of these two aspects is widely accepted (Asubonteng, Mc Cleary and Swan 1996), (Babakus and Boller, Parasuraman et all, 1985, 1992) even though various terminology is used. Moreover, word of mouth and past experiences create an expected service.

The perceived service will be compared with the expected service by the customer and leads to the perceived service quality as a result. Between the expected and the perceived service can show a gap if the perceived service does not match with the expected service (Lim and Tang 2000).

Several researchers have suggested that quality results from a comparison of perceived performance with expected performance based on the so-called “disconfirmation paradigm”. Indeed, this idea was the basis for the SERVQUAL model, which views service quality as the gap between expected level of service and customer perceptions of the level received (Parasuraman et all., 1988).


Service quality has been repeatedly studied in the services marketing literature and most of the research has focused on measuring service quality using SERVUAL instrument (Parasuraman et al., 1985). A number of different scales have been developed to measure service quality. The SERVQUAL is the most accepted scale that has been commonly used to measure different issues in service quality and in a variety of different industry and culture settings. It has been extensively tested for its validity and reliability (Lai, Hutchitson, Li and Bai 2007). Santourdis and Trivelas (2010) believe that SERVQUAL is the most popular measuring instrument that have been developed and refined to capture and explain quality dimensions. Service quality is based on multiple dimensions (Gronroos, 1984; Parasuraman et al., 1985). So far there is no general agreement as to the nature or content of the dimension (Cronin and Taylor, 1992). Jabnoun and Khalifa (2005) go through 30 studies, all of which theorized service quality as a multidimensional construct. However, the number and nature of the dimensions varied, depending on the service context; indeed they differed even within the same industry.

2.4.3 Gap Model

There are 5 major gaps in the service quality concept, which are shown Figure 2.1. The model is from Parasuraman et al (1985). The starting premise for the model is that “perceived service quality (or satisfaction with service) is a function of the difference between expected service levels and delivered (or perceived) service.” The diagram, which summarises how perceived quality can diverge from expected service, constitutes the essence of the possible contributing factors for each of the organisational Gaps Listed. The challenge to the organisation is to isolate which variables are influencing service quality perceptions negatively and how to eliminate them. Of key importance to the organisation is Gap 1, Gap 5 relates to overall perception the client -base has of the unit’s ability.

Figure 2.1: The model of Service Quality Gaps

There are 5 major gaps in the service quality concept, which are shown Figure 2.1. The model is from Parasuraman et al (1985). The starting premise for the model is that “perceived service quality (or satisfaction with service) is a function of the difference between expected service levels and delivered (or perceived) service.” The diagram, which summarises how perceived quality can diverge from expected service, constitutes the essence of the possible contributing factors for each of the organisational Gaps Listed. The challenge to the organisation is to isolate which variables are influencing service quality perceptions negatively and how to eliminate them. Of key importance to the organisation is Gap 1, Gap 5 relates to overall perception the client -base has of the unit’s ability.




Provider GAP 4





Expected Service

Perceived Service

Service Quality

External Communications to customers

Service Quality Specifications

Management Perceptions of Customer Expectations

(Source: Parasuraman et al 1985)

What makes managing customer service different, as a marketing problem from managing the standard elements of the marketing mix (product, price, promotion and place) is that customer service is typically delivered by front line employees. Personnel policies thus have immediate marketing implications. Many retailers put it into practice by treating employees as “internal customers”. According to this philosophy, management must “sell” their internal customers on the company and its policies in order to induce front line employees to deliver the desired levels of customer service. Standard personnel policies that can facilitate customer service and sell the “internal customers” include (a) employee screening and selection (b) training, (c) setting suitable reporting relationships, (d) goals and reward system, (e) internal communication and (f) generally creating a “service” culture.

The Gaps model goes a step beyond simply reassessing each of the standard personnel policies in light of the desired customer service. The model provides specific criteria concerning personnel and management policies that complete the linkage between customer expectations and perceived service delivery. Additionally, the model provides a checklist of where breaks in the chain can occur, using this checklist can provide a useful audit of service quality. We elaborate below on the five gaps in the model.

Gap 1: The knowledge Gap

It is the difference between actual customer expectations and management perceptions of those expectations. This is the first and possibly most critical step in delivering quality service. Organisations who suspect they may be suffering from this gap should ask one simple question: do we know what our customers expect from us with respect to service. Based on interviews, authors found that executives’ perceptions of superior quality service are largely congruent with customers’ expectations. Though, some significant discrepancies did often arise. First, although executives may have a broad understanding of customers’ perceptions of superior quality service they may not know about certain service features that are crucial to meet customers’ desires. Second some executives may not know the levels of performance customer expect. Gap 1 may stem from any combination of the following factors: lack of marketing research orientation within the organisation, inadequate use of research findings, infrequent management interaction with customers and inadequate upward communication.

Gap 2: The Standard Gap

Gap 2 occurs when there is divergence between what managers perceive that customers expect and the actual standards that managers set for service delivery. This gap may occur when management is aware of customers’ expectations but may not be willing or able to put systems in place that meet or exceed those expectations. For example putting systems in place may require changes in fundamental organisational work processes, acquiring expensive new technology, or refocusing organisational attitudes to understand service from the customer’s point of view. The first factor responsible for this gap is an inadequate.

Gap 3: The Delivery Gap

It is the inconsistency between service quality and service quality actually delivered. Gap 3 is very famous in service industry and it is the difference between organisational service specifications and actuals levels of service delivery. It is failure to match supply with demand. Gap 3 arises when employees are unable or unwilling to perform to the level of service desired by management. Various factors contribute to this unwillingness and these are: employees job fit, fit between technology, role conflict and control systems.

Gap 4: The Communication Gap

It is the difference between service delivery intention and what is communicated about the service to customers. These established expectations within the customer may not be met. Often this is the result of inadequate communication by the service provider. Advertisement

nurture customers’ expectation. Customers usually perceive that organizations are delivering low quality service when a gap appears between promised levels of service and the service actually delivered.

Gap 5: The Communication Gap

It is the difference between customers’ expectations of the service provider and their perceptions of provider delivery. This is the subject of this survey. The customer Gap can be identified by direct interview of the customers. Identifying product quality, it is much easier than identifying the service quality of an organisation. Since services are intangible, customers rely on the tangibles associated with the service to derive their perception about the service quality.

In summary, the service quality Gap model can help identify causes of poor service. The perceived quality depends on the external communication to customers and service delivery. The GAP 4 also known as communication gap is appearing between the external communication to customers and the service delivery. It appears when promises do not match the delivery. The service delivery depends on the service quality specifications.

The service quality specifications depend on the management perceptions of customer expectations, where the management perceptions of customer expectations influence the external communication to customers. The GAP 2 also known as standards gap occurs between management perceptions of customer expectations and the service quality specifications if the wrong quality standards were consulted. The biggest gap, the Gap 1 also known as marketing information gap occurs between the management perceptions of customer expectations and the expected service. It appears because the service provider does not know what customer expects.

2.4.4 Criticism of SERVQUAL

The SERVQUAL instrument has been extensively adopted by several academic researchers and practitioners worldwide to measure service quality. However, despite of its extensive use, it has been criticized regarding the operationalization of expectation, the reliability and validity of the instrument’s difference score formulation and the difficulty in replicating its dimensions (Baker and Crompton 2000; Sureshchandar, Rajendran and Anantharam, 2002). Additionally, SERVQUAL has also been criticised for focusing only on the service delivery process and does not address the service encounter outcomes (Gronroos 1990). SERVQUAL underlined that “quality evaluations are not made solely on the outcome of service they also involve evaluations of the service delivery process” (Parasuraman et al 1985). It is difficult to find an explanation for their failure to address outcome (technical) quality in the SERVQUAL instrument and it would that technical quality has been neglected in SERVQUAL’s measurement of service quality (Kang, 2006). Furthermore there is no general argument as to the nature or content of the service quality dimensions (Brady and Cronin, 2001) and it is believed that service quality is a multidimensional construct (Gronroos, 1990; Parasuraman et al 1985, 1988).

Most of the past literatures have of the SERVQUAL dimensions as independent factors and the relative importance of these factors are derived by taking the absolute mean differences between perception and expectation. Ladhari (2008) argued that the use of gap scores is not the right method because of the lack of the support in literature to consumers evaluating service quality in terms of perception-minus-expectation. He stated that it has been recommended that service quality is more precisely and correctly evaluated by measuring only perceptions of quality. On the other hand, he mentioned that the concept expectation is not well defined and can be interpreted from different perspectives; as a result, the operationalisation of SERVQUAL may have different interpretations as well. It has been contended that service quality is more accurately assessed by measuring only perceptions of quality (Cronin and Taylor, 1994).

The foremost empirical dilemma of the instrument lies in its unsteady dimensionality. The dimensionality of service quality might depend on the type of industry being studied (Jabnoun and khalifa, 2005). It is found that measure of service quality across industries is not viable. Therefore, future research on service quality should involve the development of industry-specific measure of service quality (Jabnoun and Khalifa, 2005). Despite the fact that SERVQUAL model has many limitations, its framework has guided numerous studies in the service sector, which focuses on banks, repair and maintenance services, telephone companies, physicians, hospitals, hotels, academic institutions and retail stores (Parasuraman Zeithaml & Berry 1988, Carman 1990, Boulding, Kalra, Staelin & Zeithaml 1993, Kouthouris & Alexandris 2005).

2.4.5 Dimensions of Service quality

Serviced quality is based on multiple dimensions (Gronroos 1984; Parasuraman et al., 1985). So far there is no wide-ranging conformity as to the nature of content of the dimension (Cronin and Taylor, 1992). Jabnoun and Khalifa (2005) reviewed 30 studies, all of which posited service quality as a multidimensional construct. Conversely, the number and nature of the dimensions varied, depending on the service context; indeed the altered even within the same industry. SERVQUAL Five Dimensions

In the original concept of the Servqual instrument, 10 determinants of service quality (Parasuraman et al 1985) were described. After extensive research these ten were refined into five service quality dimensions namely, tangibles, responsiveness, reliability, assurance and empathy. The five determinants which constitute the SERVQUAL is defined in table 2.1 below;




The appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel and communication materials


Performing the promised service dependably and accurately


Helping customers and providing a prompt service


Inspiring trust and confidence


Providing a caring and individual service to customers

(Source: Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry, 1985)

2.4.6 Technical and Functional Dimension

Gronroos (2001) identified two dimensions in service Technical quality as it is perceived by customers; they are technical quality and functional quality (Figure 1). The technical quality is the outcome or end result of a service production process. The functional quality show a customer receives the service and how he experiences the simultaneous production and consumption process. All the tangibles will create the technical quality but intangibles will generate the functional quality.


Technical Quality

(What is delivered?)

Service Quality


Functional Quality

(How it is delivered?)

Adapted from Kandampully (2002)

Kang (2006), states that the technical quality focuses on “what” and considers such issues as the end result of service provision. Functional quality focuses on “how” and considers issues such as the behaviour of customer contact staff and the speed of service (Kang and James, 2004).

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Several authors have suggested that evaluation of service quality should include both sets of attributes (Gronroos 1990) and Kang (2006) shows concern that much of previous service quality research have concentrated on the SERVQUAL instrument and have thus focused on the functional quality dimensions only.

In other words, customers perceive what they receive as the outcome of the process (technical) and how the process itself functions (functional). In terms of technical quality customers like attractive look and up to date products. Insofar functional quality is concerned with just in time.

2.4.7 Physical, Interactive and Corporate Dimension

Lehtinen and Lhunen (1982) defined service quality in terms of the following three dimensions;

Physical quality that relates to the tangible aspects of the service.

Interactive quality that involves the interactive nature of service.

Corporate image quality which refers to the image attributed to a service provider by its current and potential customers as well as other public.

Gronroos (2001) and Lehtinen and Lehtinen (1982) have illustrated that the quality of service as perceived by customers has three dimensions, namely functional or process dimension, technical or outcome and image. Moreover Richard and Allaway (1993) pointed out that using only functional quality attributes to explain or foretell customers’ behaviour might be a misspecification of service quality and have low predictive value.

2.5 Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction has been defined in various ways, but the conceptualization, which appears to have achieved the widest acceptance, is that satisfaction is a post-choice evaluative judgment of a specific transaction (Bastos and Gallego, 2008).

Customer satisfaction is a well-known and established concept in several areas like marketing, consumer research, economic psychology, welfare-economics, and economics. The most famous interpretations obtained from various authors reflect the notion that satisfaction is a feeling which results from a process of evaluating what has been received against what was expected, including the purchase decision itself and the needs and wants associated with the purchase (Armstrong & Kotler, 1996). Bitner & Zeithaml (2003) stated that satisfaction is the customers’ evaluation of a product or service in terms of whether that product or service has met their needs and expectations. According to Boselie, Hesselink, and Wiele (2002) satisfaction is a positive, affective state resulting from the appraisal of all aspects of a party’s working relationship with another.

Olivier (1980) disconfirmation model put forward that customer satisfaction is the result of the perceived difference (disconfirmation) between expectations and perceived performance of a product or service. Disconfirmation is the evaluation of performance compared to expectations match.

In fact, there are at least 2 different conceptualisations of customer satisfaction namely; transaction -specific the other is cumulative (Boulding et al, 1993, Johnson et al, 1995, Andreassen 2000). On the one hand from a transaction – specific perspective customer satisfaction is viewed as a post choice evaluative judgement of a specific purchase occasion. It refers to customers’ assessment of the value they obtain after they finish one specific transaction. On the other hand cumulative customer is an overall evaluation based on the total purchase and consumption experiences with a product or service over time (Auh and Johnson 2005). Parasuraman et al (1988) argued that the cumulative perspective is more capable of evaluating the service performance of firms and more affective in predicting consumers post purchase behaviours.

2.6 Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality

The research by Sureshchandar et al. (2002) also shows, however, that service quality and customer satisfaction are closely related, and that an increase in one is likely to lead to a rise in the other. Satisfying customers may not be sufficient to remain ahead of the competition. The true gains of a quality revolution come only from delighting the customer. This, to a great extent, depends on his or her perceptions of overall service quality. Customer satisfaction is a vital concern of service quality. Customer satisfaction can determine the long-term success of a service organization (Parasuraman et al. 1994). Spreng and Mackoy (1996) also showed that service quality leads to customer satisfaction. Researchers have found that Customers’ perceived service quality has a positive effect on customer satisfaction. Quality of service is fundamental and aim satisfying customers. Further Studies confirm eventual goal of service provider to exceed customer expectations and thus to increase the level of customer satisfaction (Parasuraman et al 1998). Measuring Customer satisfaction provides feedback on how effective a company is in providing quality products and services. Looy et al., (2003) suggest that level of customer satisfaction is the result of customers comparison of the service quality expected in a given service encounter with perceived quality. Hence, if the perceived quality is higher than what was expected then customer will be much satisfied and if the contrary is true then dissatisfaction arises.

Harris and Harrington (2000) claimed that customer satisfaction can be attained by companies, which have understood their customer’s needs and make effort to provide and efficient and effective service. It shows that service quality is clearly related to customer satisfaction. Akbar and Parvez et al., (2009) claimed that a dissatisfied customer is more likely to seek for information on alternatives and more likely to yield to competitor overtures than is a satisfied customer”.

Research on several business sectors has established the causal relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction. This also applies to banking sector where various studies confirmed the positive effect of service quality on satisfaction (Lim et al. 2006).

2.10 Empirical Evidence

Though several authors have emphasized on the multidimensional nature of service quality (Gronroos 1982, Lehtinen and Lehtinen 1982, Parasuraman et al 1985, 1988) most of the research relating to service quality has focused on the measurement of service quality based on the functional dimension (Rao et al.,Zineldin, 2006). Quality in the banking sector is a very subtle concept that is influence by many dimensions. Christopher Gan (2011) in his studies investigates on four dimensions which are interaction quality, physical environment quality, outcome quality and network quality. The rapid growth in the information technology and network systems during the past decade has introduced major changes in the global economy and business environment (Qureshi et al., 2008). Information technology development has increased the communications and transactions between banks and their clients in the banking industry (Booz et al., 1997). Technological innovations lead to time saving and improved service quality for bank customers (Qureshi et al., 2008). In order to remain competitive, banks are increasing the technology based service options to deliver dependable services to their consumers (Al-hawari etal., 2005; Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons 1997).

Numerous studies have implemented several dimensions (Table 2.2) to test quality and establish relationship between quality and customer satisfaction in banking Sector.

Table 2.2: Dimensions identified in Banking Sector by different studies



Year of Study

Dimensions identified in Banking Sector

No of Dimensions


Okan Veli ÅžAFAKLI

In Northern CYPRUS


Tangibles, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance, Empathy, Network



Muhammad Saifuddin Khondaker & Monir Zaman Mir in Bangladesh



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