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									                                                                    The importance of services in the lives of
 Illuminate                                                         people is increasing in many parts of the
Dimensions of service                                               world: the economic share of services current-
                                                                    ly accounts for more than half the sum of all
quality: a study in                                                 GNPs worldwide[1]. Furthermore, as ser-
                                                                    vices and service establishments increase in
Istanbul                                                            number and in type, customers are also
                                                                    becoming more demanding. The reasons for
Perran Akan                                                         this lie both in the characteristics of
                                                                    consumers and in their environments. Con-
                                                                    sumers have increased disposable incomes
                                                                    and more knowledge on services, gained
                                                                    through experience and advertising. At the
                                                                    same time, they are becoming increasingly
                                                                    dependent on service, and increased pricing
                                                                    has made them more value conscious[2].
                                                                       Service industries have not always respond-
The author                                                          ed satisfactorily to the demands of customers
Perran Akan is a member of faculty at the Tourism                   for improvement, owing to the inadequacy of
Administration Program of Bogaziçi University, Istanbul,            management, through accelerated growth,
Turkey.                                                             shortages in the supply of labour, a lack of
                                                                    training and high staff turnover, and the
 Abstract                                                           inadequacy of the reward system in service
Investigates the elements which contribute to service               industries. Beyond this, the advancement of
quality for customers of the hotel industry in Istanbul.            technology that has made computerization of
Examines whether the quality dimensions included in the             businesses possible has also led to an imperso-
SERVQUAL model apply in an international environment,               nalization of service – another reason for the
specifically in Turkey. Searches for additional dimensions,          failure to deliver good service[2].
identified by customers, which should be included in the                As competition increases, delivering better
service quality construct. Measures the level of importance         service becomes ever more important. And
of each specific dimension for the users of hotel services in        the highly imitable nature of the tangibles that
Turkey. Concludes that users of Turkish four- and five-star          service firms use makes it necessary to put
hotels may expect to receive friendly, courteous, hygienic          more emphasis on service as a differentiating
and expert service but without special personalized                 characteristic[3].
attention.                                                             But what is this thing called service? Identi-
                                                                    fying the underlying dimensions of the service
                                                                    quality construct and the relative importance
                                                                    of these dimensions in consumer evaluation of
                                                                    specific service situations is the first step in
                                                                    the definition – and hence provision – of
                                                                    service quality. Developing a multi-attribute
                                                                    index based on these dimensions with their
                                                                    respective weights would be instrumental in
                                                                    measuring the trends in consumer assess-
                                                                    ments of service quality in general, or for
                                                                    some services in particular. Such an index
                                                                    would also make it possible to segment the
                                                                    consumer markets, to measure the variances
                                                                    between certain service establishments, and
                                                                    to pinpoint the strong and weak points of each
                                                                    establishment with respect to the quality of
                                                                    service in quantifiable terms.


                                                                    The research summarized in this article was made
Managing Service Quality
Volume 5 · Number 6 · 1995 · pp. 39–43                              possible through a grant from the Research Fund
© MCB University Press · ISSN 0960-4529                             of Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey.
                                                               39
       Dimensions of service quality: a study in Istanbul                        Managing Service Quality
                         Perran Akan                                         Volume 5 · Number 6 · 1995 · 39–43


   SERVQUAL, the multi-item index devel-                         For the sake of brevity, in this article only that
oped by Parasuraman et al.[4], as a result of                    part of the study which relates to hotel ser-
their extensive research on service quality, has                 vices is considered.
major significance in instigating research on
the dimensions of the service quality con-                       Methodology
struct. Those researchers found in their study
of four service establishments – namely a                        A separate questionnaire was developed for
retail bank, a credit card company, a repair                     each of the four services reviewed, and the
and maintenance company, and a long dis-                         questions adapted to the specific service – but
tance telephone company, that service quality                    care was taken to introduce parallel questions
had ten underlying dimensions.                                   across the different questionnaires, for com-
   These dimensions, revealed by the factor                      parison purposes.
                                                                    Each questionnaire was completed by 200
analysis, were named as tangibles, reliability,
                                                                 respondents in Turkey’s largest airport, in
responsiveness, communication, credibility,
                                                                 Istanbul, selected because people from all
security, competence, courtesy, understand-
                                                                 parts of the country meet there and their
ing/knowing the customer, and access. Later,
                                                                 paths cross, and because the airport popula-
some of the original dimensions were com-
                                                                 tion is believed to match closely the popula-
bined, leading into a five-dimensional index:                     tion of the users of all the services investigat-
tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assur-                   ed. The sample size was chosen because the
ance (credibility, security, competence, cour-                   scale developers have used, and found reli-
tesy) and empathy (communication know-                           able, similar sample sizes in previous research;
ing/understanding the customer, and access).                     the sample of hotel services users was, howev-
The researchers argue that the scale was                         er, increased to 234 with the inclusion of
designed to be applicable across a broad                         additional completed questionnaires.
spectrum of services – in another words, it is                      Data collection started in July 1993. Half
generic. The questions that remain to be                         the questionnaires were completed in
answered are: is this assumption valid, and is                   summer, and the balance started in October
this scale applicable in the international con-                  1994. This difference in the timing of data
text?                                                            collection was deliberate, in order to maintain
   This study has attempted to answer these                      a balance between the different profiles of the
questions.                                                       airport population during summer and winter
                                                                 months: days of the week and hours of the day
                                                                 were varied, in order to improve the represen-
Objective of the study                                           tativeness of the sample.
In order to consider and study the elements                         In the first part of the hotel questionnaire,
that comprised service quality for the Turkish                   respondents were asked about the types of
consumer, an exploratory study was done in                       service they used in hotels, their frequency of
Istanbul, investigating four businesses: hotels                  use, and their preferences between price and
(both four- and five-star), airlines, banking,                    quality. They were then asked about their
                                                                 expectations about hotel services through
and insurance services. These were selected
                                                                 open-ended questions.
because of their critical role in the process of
                                                                    Next, a set of 30 Likert-type (modified to a
the integration of Turkey with the rest of the
                                                                 four-point scale) questions was designed and
world. The study had three principal objec-
                                                                 adapted from the SERVQUAL instrument
tives, namely to:
                                                                 and the original list of service quality dimen-
(1) examine whether the quality dimensions                       sions provided by Zeithaml et al.[5,
     included in the SERVQUAL model apply                        pp. 21-2]. These provided a set of 30 attribut-
     in an international environment – and                       es where respondent’s reactions could be
     specifically in Turkey;                                      investigated. These attributes comprised
(2) search for any additional dimensions,                        three groups concerning, respectively, the
     identified by customers, that should be                      hotel, its personnel, and the service process:
     included in the service quality construct;                  (1) The hotel:
     and                                                              • exterior appearance;
(3) measure the level of importance of each                           • interior appearance;
     specific dimension for the users of the                           • furniture;
     services in Turkey.                                              • ease of access;
                                                            40
       Dimensions of service quality: a study in Istanbul                        Managing Service Quality
                         Perran Akan                                         Volume 5 · Number 6 · 1995 · 39–43


    • name/image;                                                   The last part of the questionnaire dealt
    • products offered for use (soap, sham-                      with demographic information, and material
      poo, sheets and towels).                                   goods such as home and car ownership, etc.
(2) The personnel:                                               that can be used as proxy variables in the
    • knowledge and training;                                    absence of specific information on income.
    • experience;                                                Respondents were also asked if they travelled
    • physical appearance;                                       to foreign countries, or if they had ever lived
    • understanding;                                             in a foreign country, as these factors could
    • friendliness;                                              have an important impact on the individual's
    • respect;                                                   service expectations.
    • speaks well.
(3) The service process:
                                                                 Results
    • accuracy of reservations;
    • accuracy of food orders;                                   Data from 228 questionnaires were analysed,
    • accuracy in billing;                                       after the elimination of six unusable ones and
    • prompt service;                                            factor analysis of the results of the Likert-type
    • information about hotel services;                          questions produced seven factors which
    • advance information about prices;                          between them accounted for just under 60 per
    • anticipating customers’ needs;                             cent of the variation in the data – with the first
    • recognizing the customer;                                  two accounting for more than half of that.
    • calling the customer by name;                              These seven factors were identified in
    • giving special attention to the cus-                       descending order of impact, and were labelled
      tomer;                                                     as follows:
    • listening to and understanding the                         (1) Courtesy and competence of the personnel.
      customer;                                                       The statements that load high on this
    • giving information that is easy to                              factor are on the knowledge/experience,
      understand;                                                     training, and the physical appearance of
    • speed of transactions;                                          the personnel and the qualities such as
    • ease of access to the personnel;                                friendliness, respect and understanding,
    • listening to complaints;                                        and the ability to speak well. This factor
    • solving problems;                                               accounted for 21 per cent of the variation
    • offering the service the way customer                           in the data.
      wants.                                                     (2) Communication and transactions. This
                                                                      includes the high factor loading of state-
Next, the respondents were asked about their                          ments about information concerning
particular reasons for satisfaction and dissatis-                     hotel service, advance information about
faction with hotel services, through different                        prices, listening/understanding the cus-
sets of open-ended questions. The open-                               tomer, information that is easy to under-
ended questions on expectations of quality                            stand, speed of transactions, and ease of
were deliberately posed before the questions                          access to the personnel. This factor
derived from SERVQUAL, and the reasons                                accounted for 11 per cent of the variance,
for satisfaction and dissatisfaction were delib-                      and combines the communication,
erately placed after them: the reason for this                        access, and responsiveness dimensions of
placing was to see whether the exposure to the                        the original SERVQUAL study.
dimensions of quality included in the                            (3) Tangibles. High factor loadings occurred
SERVQUAL repertoire would make a percep-                              on the statements concerning the interior
tual change, which would be reflected in the                           and exterior appearance, furniture, ease
unstructured responses to reasons for satisfac-                       of access, and products offered for use.
tion and dissatisfaction.                                             The reputation of the hotel, as implicit in
    The service attributes that cause dissatis-                       the name and/or image, has also loaded
faction are included in this research because it                      on this factor. The variance explained
is the contention of this researcher that a                           here is 9 per cent.
study of the dimensions of quality should not                    (4) Knowing and understanding the customer.
only include the attributes that have a positive                      This accounted for 6 per cent of the
appeal to the customer but should also focus                          variation.
on the attributes that have a negative appeal                    (5) Accuracy and speed of service. This
and try to improve them.                                              accounted for 5 per cent of the variation.
                                                            41
       Dimensions of service quality: a study in Istanbul                       Managing Service Quality
                         Perran Akan                                        Volume 5 · Number 6 · 1995 · 39–43


(6) Solutions to problems. This accounted for 5                  meal. The frequency with which unspecified
    per cent of the variation.                                   elements of service quality are mentioned as
(7) Accuracy of hotel reservations. Only the                     dissatisfiers (11.2 per cent) is greater than this
    statement concerning the accuracy of                         mentions as expectations (4.9 per cent) or as
    hotel reservations was loaded on this                        satisfiers (2.2 per cent), implying that people
    factor; it is then quite separate from the                   may be more sensitive to the lack of quality
    accuracy of other transactions, and                          than to the existence of it.
    accounted for 3 per cent of the variance.                       The responses to the Likert-type questions
                                                                 derived from the set of 30 service quality
While editing the responses to the open-
                                                                 dimensions listed earlier in relation to the
ended questions on the expectations from
                                                                 hotel, the personnel, and the service process,
hotel services, and the attributes that caused
                                                                 showed the greatest agreement with the state-
most satisfaction and dissatisfaction, it                        ment that hotel personnel should be friendly,
appeared that the responses given to these                       respectful, understanding, and that they
questions largely coincided. Accordingly, a                      should have experience, knowledge and train-
single category was developed to analyse the                     ing and should speak well. This is followed by
frequency of the attributes mentioned for                        a high importance assigned to the products
expectations, satisfaction and dissatisfaction.                  offered for use, such as the quality of sheets
   The attribute characteristics and behaviour of                and towels, soap, shampoo, etc.
the employees is the most frequently mentioned                      The attributes assigned the least impor-
expectation/satisfier/dissatisfier in each of                      tance in this set are: anticipating customer
these three areas. This is followed by pricing/                  needs, recognizing the customer, and calling
value which comes second as an expectation,                      the customer by name. It is interesting that
but lags behind cleanliness as a satisfier and                    while some of the conviviality or humanistic
scores quite low as a dissatisfier, possibly                      dimensions are assigned the most importance,
because this is one area which potential cus-                    some others are considered to be least impor-
tomers are generally aware of in advance, and                    tant. The technical dimensions fall in the
can make their selection on that basis. Clean-                   middle in the order of mean values, and the
liness, ranking second as a satisfier, retains                    tangibles such as products offered for use,
that position as a dissatisfier, in equal position                furniture, interior and the exterior appearance
to timeliness which was a clear cause for dis-                   of the hotel have varying degrees of impor-
content for the respondents. This shows us                       tance.
that employee characteristics and behaviour
can be both a source of satisfaction and of
dissatisfaction at different times, in a similar                 Limitations and implications
manner to the existence, or lack, of cleanli-                    The results of this study cannot be accepted
ness.                                                            as being completely relevant and applicable to
   The positioning of cleanliness is interesting                 all users of services of four- or five-star hotels
as it is an attribute not mentioned before in                    in Turkey, because of the limited sample size
service quality literature but it is evidently an                and the sampling procedure. Furthermore, it
important contributor to hotel service quality.                  may not be a good replication of the
Researchers took care not to confuse quality                     SERVQUAL study regarding the statements
with price in the service quality work. How-                     included in the questionnaire. However, it
ever, pricing/value for the Turkish consumer is                  does have implications that may affect the
an expectation and a satisfier.                                   improvement of service in hotels, as well as for
   Another interesting point is that the lack of                 future research on the subject.
the attribute timeliness has a much higher                           It was found that characteristics of hotel
percentage of dissatisfaction than its mentions                  personnel are the most important attributes
as an expectation or a satisfier. The attribute                   influencing the perception of quality. More-
was named timeliness rather than (for exam-                      over, the behavioural and technical attributes of
ple) promptness, because the respondents’                        the personnel are not separately evaluated by
answers show that they do not always expect                      the respondents – as reflected by factor analy-
fast service, but sometimes a service that is                    sis. This finding is in line with the findings of
given too soon may be the cause of dissatisfac-                  the SERVQUAL study, where the dimensions
tion – such as the maid who wants to come in                     competence and courtesy also were combined
to do the room too early or the plate that is                    along with credibility and security under
taken away before the customer finishes a                         assurance[5, p. 25].
                                                            42
       Dimensions of service quality: a study in Istanbul                          Managing Service Quality
                         Perran Akan                                           Volume 5 · Number 6 · 1995 · 39–43


    To satisfy the consumer, good personnel                      quality dimensions are bipolar. The delivery
must integrate both job skill and interpersonal                  of prompt service is not necessarily desirable
skill sets. Possessing only one set may not be a                 at all times; sometimes the opposite is true.
substitute for the other. Hotel managers and                         While the service quality research so far has
tourism educators must put equal emphasis                        disregarded the behaviouristic and the pricing
on these two different types of skill in their                   aspects of service, the results show that the
personnel development programmes.                                perception of value, that is, good pricing and
    Although the customers of four- or five-star                  the benefit/price relationship, can be per-
hotels put heavy emphasis on friendliness,                       ceived as a dimension of quality by the recipi-
respect, and understanding of the hotel per-                     ents. This has implications for the pricing
sonnel, they do not necessarily expect or                        strategies and product/service development. It
require personal recognition or special treat-                   is particularly important if the service quality
ment. What they expect is basic, anonymous                       work is also to have links with purchasing
good relations. This makes the understand-                       behaviour, rather than being just a description
ing/knowing the customer or the empathy                          of the attitude held by consumers.
dimension of SERVQUAL less important and
perhaps even irrelevant in this context.
    The SERVQUAL study reported that                             Conclusion
tangibles had the minimum importance for                         These results show that the users of the four-
the services studied[4, p. 29]. However, the                     or five-star hotels in Turkey expect to get
hotel study demonstrated that customers                          friendly, courteous, clean, expert service, but
attach great importance to tangibles related to
                                                                 without special, personalized attention. Social
the room and other public areas of the build-
                                                                 surroundings and the perception of the value
ing, and to food. Cleanliness is a dimension
                                                                 of the service are additional considerations.
related to the tangibles that does not have a
                                                                 To reflect these expectations, SERVQUAL is
distinct place in the original study, but cer-
                                                                 a valuable tool as a concept, and also with
tainly was found to be relevant in this context.
                                                                 respect to the dimensions of service which it
    Another attribute that is new but important
                                                                 proposes. However, this scale is not necessari-
regarding hotel service quality is the social
                                                                 ly generic or universal. It should be modified
interaction that hotels provide. Although
                                                                 both for the specific service situation and for
Parasuraman et al.[6] mentioned the impor-
                                                                 the environmental context within which it is
tance of the interactive quality, service quality
                                                                 used, to make it a more valuable tool.
research so far has not concentrated on the
interaction between the service providers and
the recipients. The quality of interaction with                  References
other recipients and the environment, and the                     1 Cronin, J.J. Jr and Taylor, S.A., “Measuring service
ensuing emotional experience of ambience,                           quality: a re-examination and extension”, Journal of
wellbeing and the possibility of reach to the                       Marketing, Vol. 56, July 1992, pp. 55-68.
environment is a dimension which is impor-                        2 Barrington, M.N. and Olsen, M.D., “Concept of service
tant for the evaluation of hotel service quality.                   in the hospitality industry”, International Journal of
This is particularly important in Turkey,                           Hospitality Management, Vol. 6, Autumn 1987, pp.
where participation in the activities of four- or                   131-8.
five-star hotels is both the manifestation of a                    3 Pickworth, J.R., “Minding the Ps and Qs: linking
                                                                    quality and productivity”, The Cornell Hotel and
more cosmopolitan lifestyle and a means of                          Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 28, May
access to an international environment. In                          1987, pp. 40-7.
this respect, the four- or five-star hotels pro-                   4 Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A. and Berry, L.L.,
vide the “environmental bubbles” suggested                          “SERVQUAL: a multiple-item scale of measuring
by Wei et al.[7]. Service providers should also                     consumer perceptions of service quality”, Journal of
develop the social possibilities for the feeling                    Retailing, Vol. 64, Spring 1988, pp. 12-41.
of wellbeing and self-enjoyment.                                  5 Zeithaml, V.A., Parasuraman, A. and Berry, L.L.,
    It is also implied by the results that the                      Delivering Quality Service, Free Press, New York, NY,
                                                                    1990.
concept of quality is not always clear in the
                                                                  6 Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A. and Berry, L.L., “A
mind of the consumer, and the lack of quality
                                                                    conceptual model of service quality and its implica-
is noticed more readily than its existence. The                     tions for future research”, Journal of Marketing,
same is also true for the timeliness attribute –                    Vol. 22, Autumn 1985, pp. 41-9.
the lack of this receives heavier emphasis than                   7 Wei, L., Crompton, J.L. and Reid, L.M., “Cultural
does its existence. Another implication of the                      conflicts”, Tourism Management, Vol. 10, December
timeliness attribute is that some of the service                    1989, pp. 322-32.
                                                            43

								
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