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Relation between service quality and customer satisfaction

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The researcher states that a look into the related literature proves that both quality and satisfaction are often used interchangeably as if both are the same construct. However, a closer look reveals that both are different concepts which are very similar to each other. According to many researchers, customer satisfaction is a function of discrepancy between a customer’s previous expectations and the customer’s perceptions regarding the new purchase. In simple words, if the customer feels that the service is better than what is expected, there is customer satisfaction. Now, a look into the concept of service quality proves that it is defined as the comparative function between customer expectations and actual service rendered. Thus, one reaches the notion that while customer satisfaction is a more specific, short-term evaluation that is influenced by actual service quality and customer expectations, actual service quality is more general and long term evaluation. In simple words, service quality is just one important factor that can ensure customer satisfaction. Here, one point becomes evident. customer expectation is an important factor that can influence customer satisfaction. Now, a look into the related literature proves that customer expectation is the product of a number of factors. These factors range from word of mouth communications from other customers, personal needs of customers, past experiences, and external communications from service providers including the price-quality relationship. Now, it becomes necessary to elaborate each of these points in detail. First of all, it is common for all customers to develop some expectations about the service to be received based on the word of mouth feedback from ones friends and acquaintances. Another point is the influence of ones personal needs. For example, one customer might visit a sports centre as a way to socialise while another one may visit in order to keep oneself fit. Another point of consideration is the fact that some customers develop their own expectations based on their prior experiences in similar situations. That means, the customers are likely to weigh the service against the service they received in the past in order to decide whether the service is satisfactory. Another important area of consideration is the influence of external communications on customer expectations. External communication means the accuracy of information that comes out through promotion regarding the quality of service. Once the promotional materials provide high expectations and fail to provide the same quality service in practice, there will be customer dissatisfaction. Thus, it becomes evident that the promotional materials should only contain factual, objective information that can be useful for the customers in making informed choices. In other words, the expectations of the customers that are developed through promotion should meet the actual quality of service. Now, a look into the work byIacobucci et al (1995)proves that both customer satisfaction and service quality are very similar to each other because of the similarities in their antecedents. For example, according to the scholars, the antecedents of service quality are price, back-stage, and expertise. Similarly, the factors that lead to customer satisfaction are timeliness, service recovery, and physical environment(ibid). Now, a closer look reveals a factor that is rather interesting. All the antecedents of