Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Five Dimensions of Service Quality

One of the “classic” books about Customer Service Quality is Delivering Quality Service by Valerie A. Zeithaml, A. Parasuraman, and Leonard L. Berry (The Free Press, NY, NY). The first edition of this book was published in 1990: long before the Internet, Outsourcing, CRM systems... and mobile phones were the size of a brick.

But nowadays, its essence is still valid: the importance of measuring and improving quality in services.

The model proposed by these fine authors to measure service quality is called SERVQUAL. In this post we’ll focus on the five dimensions of service, or the criteria used by customers to assess the quality of services according to this model:

  1. Tangibles: Appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication materials.
  2. Reliability: Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.
  3. Responsiveness: Willingness to help customers and provide prompt service.
  4. Assurance: Knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence.
  5. Empathy: Caring, individualized attention the firm provides its customers.

Customers’ expectations and perceptions are measured across these five dimensions using questionnaires.

Even without surveys, these five dimensions help us to better visualize and analyze the services provided to customers. They make the term “service” less ambiguous.

And which dimension is the most important to customers (according to the authors)? Reliability. Do what you say you are going to do.

Don’t worry, we’ll continue writing about SERVQUAL later…

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