Applicability of SERVQUAL Model in a Globalized Market

Introduction

Globalization is a phenomenon that baffles even the marketers as it present a unique marketing environment with mixed cultural dimensions, and varying customer expectations. In a global context, these variations present a challenge the marketers as there is not market specific model for measuring customer service. This study is done against the background of the globalized marketing to argue that service quality cannot be globalized due different cultural dimensions. However, service quality cannot be standardized considering the fact that most of the customer’s expectation in a globalized world are changing.

Discussion

While it is not a perfect measure, SERVEQUAL offer an effective way to examine and design an exceptional customer service and maximize the customer experience. Avery Company desires to exceed the customer’s expectation, but the only ways they can do this is by gathering data on the perceived service quality and compare it to the service quality delivered. This is where SERVEQUAL come in to help in filling this gap between the perceived and the actual service quality (Nusair, and Kandampully. 2008, pp. 4–19).

Five Gaps filling

SERVEQUAL identified five key gaps in customer service. These include the expected service and the perceived services (Gap 5). The difference between the expected service and the perceived service can only is determined by surveying then customers, Even though the word of mouth is convenient to the marketers, the customers can relate their perception through survey.’

Secondly, the gap between the management perceiti9on of the customer’s expectations and the actual customer expectation (Gap 1) can only be determined through surveys. That is why SERVEQUAL is more important. The main question is whether SERVEQUAL can be used at a global scale? While this is a subjective assumption, SERVEQUAL can be used in a global context because currently, it is the only effective method. Therefore, where there are no alternative, marketers can use the SERVEQUAL scales (24 themes) to determine the customer expectation. Even with the slight variation. SERVEQUAL can be modified to suit the context of the survey. For example, based on the five key dimensions, the company can modify its rater system and eliminate the factors that are not specific to the research content (Calvert, 2001, pp. 732-757).

Cultural diversity

Secondly, SERVEQUAL is the most effective tool that can be used to determine the customer’s perception of the company services irrespective of the geographical location or even the culture. All companies have their own specific operating context. Then again, the customer’s expectation is the benchmarks that the customers establish in every region. Therefore, it is important to note that the SERVEQUAL does not benchmark the customer’s expectation but the customer. SERVEQUAL can be used in a globalized world as a guiding tool and not as an end itself.

The differences in cultural dimensions indicate a possible difference in customer expectation industry wise or culture wise. Even though the basic customer service expectation may be uniform, it is clear that different customer market segment have different levels of expectation on employee responsiveness, assurance, empathy, and reliability. The SERVEQUAL offers a basic measure of service quality that can be applied worldwide, but not an optimal measure of service quality as there are internal variation, and poor predictive validity (Nusair, and Kandampully. 2008, pp. 4–19).

Variation in service level expectations

Additionally, while most companies aim at meeting the needs of their customers, they have to understand the specific nature of the needs of their customers. Just the same way it is not realistic for a company to assume the homogeneity of the customer’s needs worldwide; it is not realistic to have a uniform system or set of standards for measuring customer needs. Therefore, while the SERVEQUAL is an ideal tool, it needs to be modified to determine the customer needs, suggestion, perception and expectations specific to each culture, or customer segments. It is a fallacy to believe that all customers need empathy, responsiveness or assurances because there are different cultures where responsiveness sis much more important that empathy and the other three dimensions (Buttle, 1996, pp.8 – 32).

Performances levels may be uniform, but the customer perception may vary from one culture to another. For example, while a company may set specific performance levels, customers may perceive some performance levels as below standards. In the same way, there are employees who may have the impression about the customer’s expectation s and satisfaction. The benefit or strength of SERVEQUAL lies in its comprehensiveness with respect to examining the service needs and served quality and a basis on which the service quality improvement can be done.

Limitation of the SERVEQUAL model

The SERVEQUAL is currently the most effective tool for examining the five gaps. However, it is clear that validity of the five dimensions is still disputable because the SERVEQUAL model cannot be applied in all the service sectors. Additionally, the five dimensions cannot adequate measure the customer expectation in a culturally diverse market because of varying expectations and cultural values. The use of different scores when calculating the SERVEQUAL leads to a number of problems such as reliability, discriminate validity, as well as convergent validity of measurement. Additionally, McCabe, Rosenbaum, and Yurchisin (2007, 5-14) argue that while SERVEQUAL can be an effective tool, it needs to be modified in order to improve its predictive validity of measurement because the current market is globalized and the customer needs are underlie with both variation in cultural dimension and values.

Another limitation of the SERVEQUAL as a global tool lies in the assumption that the surveyed consumers will remain stable over time. From experience, customer expectation change so is their perception about a product, company service levels or the employees responsiveness (Ferdous, 2008)

Conclusion

Based on the above discussion, it is quite clear that using the SERVEQUAL scores in global context requires more than caution but the modification of the SERVEQUAL questionnaire to the specific market characteristics. It is also advisable to develop a better measure for assessing the quality of the information parodied by the customers. In conclusion, SERVEQUAL should be used as means to an end. Customer’s service expectation may be similar but their perception about the company’s service may vary. It is therefore important to modify the SERVEQUAL tool with respect to the industry, cultural dimension, or market context.

Bibliography

Deborah McCabe, Mark S. Rosenbaum, and Jennifer Yurchisin (2007), “Perceived Service Quality and Shopping Motivations: A Dynamic Relationship,” Services Marketing Quarterly, 29 (1), 1-21.

Nusair, K., and J. Kandampully. 92008). the antecedents of customer satisfaction with online travel services: A conceptual model. European Business Review 20 (1): 4–19.

Ferdous, A. (2008). Assessing Customer Satisfaction of Shahjlal Isalmi Bank (Keraniganj Branch).Calculation-ofUnweighted-SERVQUAL-Score

Francis Buttle, (1996) "SERVQUAL: review, critique, research agenda", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 30 Iss: 1, pp.8 – 32

PhilipJ. Calvert,(2001). International Variations in Measuring Customer Expectations.

Library Trends, Vol. 49, No. 4, Spring 2001, pp. 732-757

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