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Introduction One of the critical tasks of service companies is service quality management. Quality means the degree of excellence in service performance. Consumers perceive the quality of service by experiencing the consumption process and by comparing the experience with their expectations.
How service quality is perceived When service organisations understand how services are evaluated by consumers in terms of quality, it is possible to design strategies to manage these evaluations and influence them in desired direction. In a service encounter, buyer seller interaction takes place in large no. and leaves an impact. Thus a methodology is necessary to understand how customers perceive quality. Gronross has identified two dimensions of service quality in relation to quality perception by customers. They are technical quality and functional quality.
Technical quality: what is offered to the customer from the organisation and what customers receive in their interactions with the service firm is called technical product. In other words it speaks of the technical quality of blueprinting and its execution. Technical quality moulds the first impression of customers. Functional quality: research study indicate that customers will be influenced mostly by the way technical quality is transferred to them.
Expected quality vs experiencedquality Generally consumers get influenced by four important factors while forming expectations. Market communication: service firms communicate, through direct and indirect channels, to the target market relating to the features and specialties of BSP. This is a promise the service provider makes with the customer. Image: the image of service firm at the corporate level as well as the local level influence the expectations of the customer. It pervades various dimensions.
Word of mouth communication: This is an informal and strongest communication channel. Consumers often take advise from others whom they consider friend rather than service provider. Customer needs: besides the three factors mentioned above, the need intensity of customers influence the expectations. A relaxed customer may expect quality of high level compared to a customer who is hard pressed for time. For example in the case of health care services, at the time of emergency, people expect better and quicker response than in normal conditions.
Total perceived quality The total perceived quality of customer can be calculated by comparing expected quality with experienced quality. If the two are same consumer feels satisfied with service.
Determinants of service quality Alfrecht and zemke identified four factors that influence the perceived service quality. They are:(I) Care and concern(II) Spontaneity(III) Problem solving(IV) Recovery
A comprehensive study was carried out by Parasuraman, Zeithmal and Berry to identify the determinants of perceived service quality. They have identified ten determinants of service quality.(I) Reliability(II) Responsiveness(III) Competence(IV) Access(V) Courtesy(VI) Communication(VII) Credibility(VIII)Security(IX) Understanding the customer(X) tangibles
The researchers later in 1998 condensed the list of ten to five in order to avoid repetitiveness and provide universal applicability(I) Tangibles(II) Reliability(III) Responsiveness(IV) Assurance(V) Empathy
Gronroos developed a six criteria of good perceived service(I) Professionalism and skill(II) Attitude and behavior(III) Accessibility and flexibility(IV) Reliability and trustworthiness(V) Recovery(VI) Reputation and credibility
Managerial process for servicequality Service firms should develop quality focused managerial processes to ensure continuous quality performance as desired by the customer. In order to achieve the quality objectives, an integrated and coordinated work of three participant groups is necessary. The groups that influence the service quality are:(I) The management(II) The employees(III) The customer