A service quality model matched by a customised instrument for measurement of retail service sector performance.
Developed nations, like the United Kingdom, increasingly have become service-based
economies: in Taiwan, service industry accounts for more than 50% of GDP, exceeding
the output value of manufacturing industry. Since 1988, Taiwan has followed the trend
towards dominant employment by the service sector as opposed to manufacturing
activity. The measurement of service quality performance is therefore important. Thus
the main aim of this research programme was to develop a Service Quality Performance
(SQP) model and to match it by a customised instrument for measurement of service
quality performance. The service sector selected for study was that of retail
supermarkets operating in Taiwan or in the UK.
To achieve customisation of the Service Quality (SQ) instrument, the author used a
sequence of synthetic procedures for generation of an item pool, complemented by
analytic procedures for purification of test items: membership of the SQ domain was
thus ascertained. Six stages of data collection served to test the relevance of items and
factors to the service industry sector surveyed. Four of these stages were dedicated to
development of a customised SQ instrument for use in Taiwan supermarkets. The fifth
stage involved data collection from selected supermarkets in Taiwan and in the UK:
relative weights of each SQ item and factor were then determined. Sixth stage customer
survey of UK supermarket performance allowed comparison of Taiwan and UK service
quality rating. The customised SQ instrument is named SCOPES, a mnemonic for its 6
factors: product Strategy, corporate Culture, employee Orientation, company Policy,
physical Environment, and customer Support. Four factors represent the intangible
elements of SQ performance, two factors represent tangible elements.
A novel feature of the methodology employed by the author is application of Fuzzy
Delphi and Fuzzy AHP methods to purify and to weight service quality test items and
factors. Importance-Performance Analysis (IPA) was used to identify high
importance/low performance items, followed by Cluster Analysis to enable comparison
of competitive SQ performance of supermarket firms grouped intra-cluster and intercluster.
Critical discussion of the SCOPES instrument by the author differentiates it from
the SERVQUAL scale. The 26-item content of the author's instrument, customised for
measurement of supermarket SQ performance, incorporates only 10 of the 22 items
comprising the SERVQUAL scale: the others were deleted by virtue of purification
procedures. The 6-factor structure of the SCOPES instrument is distinguished from the
5-dimension structure of the SERVQUAL scale. Acceptable validity and reliability
findings in respect of the SCOPES instrument are reported.
The author suggests that his item generation and purification procedures could be
usefully extended to other sectors of service industry. Thus, item pools specific to each
service entity could be created, refining customised measurement of niche service quality
performance. Cost and time constraints limited sampling to twelve supermarket service
providers, but the author advocates wider ranging study of developed and developing
nations in respect of comparative service quality performance.