In the frontline of the new millenium, services will be the “ultimate dominator” against goods in their contribution to the world economy war. In line with this, service quality can be considered as the “flagship” of the “services fleet” in academic and managerial battles.
In particular, the reason for tracking and improving any quality standard is based on the theory that by creating a strong, favourable and unique perception of service quality in the mind of consumers, a service firm can sustain its competitive advantage and achieve commercial credibility and return on quality. These issues are a major concern of every service firm and particularly of excellent hotels, due to intense competition derived from increases in standard of living, leisure time and travel for leisure and business purposes.
Accordingly, a research project (Michael Kassotakis, 2000) aimed to assess perceived service quality and investigate the importance of service quality dimensions within a hotel context. Aldemar Hotels in Crete were considered a special case of a service firm, which has demonstrated its commitment to continous service quality improvement.
Empirical data was collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire based on the perceptions-expectations model (SERVQUAL) in order to evaluate quests’ perceptions of the previous issues along the five service quality dimensions.
The most important findings revealed that in general Aldemar Hotels’ performance, along the five service quality dimensions meets guests’ expectations. Furthermore, the findings indicated that reliability and responsiveness dimensions were, for the majority of guests, the most important determinants of service quality. The remaining dimensions (tangibles, empathy and assurance) followed a mixed pattern in terms of their importance to guests’ perceptions of service quality. This in turn means that “item gaps”, “dimension gaps” and the perceived service quality gap have diagnostic and practical value but they need to be weighted in terms of service quality dimensions. Only then they can provide meaningful results and help managers to track and improve effectively service quality features.
Therefore, service firms such as hotels need to take into consideration the above issues, along with the intervention of the services marketing imagination, in order to track and improve deficiencies in service quality features but also delight the customer. A corporate philosophy, dedicated to continous service quality improvement is the only way for establishing a competitive position against service firms, offering merely a satisfying level of quality.
Michael Kassotakis MCIM, www.e-bcr.com