Sunday, December 26, 2004

What is "Service Quality"?

Let’s start with the definition of “Quality” according to the American Society for Quality (ASQ):

Based on customers’ perceptions of a product’s design and how well the design matches the original specifications.

However, in services, the customer compares what he/she received against a “personal” set of standards, which may be quite different from the specifications of the provider.

Therefore, we can define Service Quality as:

The difference between the customer’s expectations of a service, and his/her perception of the obtained service.

Why “perception of the obtained service”?

From the customer perspective, perception equals reality. Also, each customer has different expectations for the same service, even if it comes from the same vendor. These expectations are influenced by many factors, and most of them are not controllable by the service provider, and this is further complicated by the intangible nature of services.

What we need to know is:

  • what customers expect from our service,
  • how to influence those expectations,
  • how to verify if the perceived service exceeds those expectations
  • and how to provide quality service consistently

This will give us plenty to write about in this blog.