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Title: An examination of interaction quality in service encounters in the hotel industry : a customer perspective
Author: Alotaibi, Eid Kaadan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2713 0120
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2011
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Through involvement with the tangible elements of food, drink and accommodation, hospitality relies heavily on the sale of an intangible product -the service - that, in turn, depends on the customer’s subjective interpretation of their experience. Hospitality services are characterized by a very high level of interpersonal interaction between the service representative/s and the customers. This process of customer-employee interaction is identified as the key element in the service exchange and the quality of this interaction has a clear and important impact on the customer’s overall perception of service quality. There have been some attempts to define and measure interaction quality (e. g. Brady and Cronin, 2001; Gronroos, 1990; Gutek, 1995: Lacobucci, 1998; Parasuraman, et al. , 1988; Price et al. , 1999; Solomon et al. , 1985), but these attempts show no consensus on a single definition of interaction quality. A common dichotomy in this extant body of research, however, can be observed between two types of interaction: a basic type and a more extensive type. Yet, finding a proper measure that can differentiate between these two types of interaction is still lacking. Accordingly, this study aims to contribute to the literature by examining the dimensionality, antecedents and consequence of interaction quality in service encounters in a hotel context. This takes into account the social nature (the relational aspects) of the service encounter as an important element of interaction quality alongside the cognitive aspects. The study model proposes a customer’s responses to the physical environment and customer-employee congruence as the two antecedents of interaction quality, while encounter satisfaction is the consequence. Following the extensive literature review and the preliminary qualitative interviews conducted at the early stage of this research, the current study presents a new two-dimensional scale for interaction quality that captures the task-related aspects and the relational aspects (personal connection) of the service interaction. The new scale is proven to be a valid and reliable measure. In addition, the study findings confirm the validity and the reliability of the two dimensions of customer-employee congruence, namely: interpersonal congruency and perceived similarity. Regression analyses showed partial mediation effects of interaction quality on the relationships between the two antecedents and the encounter satisfaction (the consequence). Moreover, the findings showed that task-related aspects were fully mediating the relationship between customer-employee congruence and personal connection. Overall, the study model makes several contributions to the growing body of knowledge which endeavours to explain the relationships between various aspects of the service encounter. Therefore, the model can form the basis of future research on service interaction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available