The only criteria that count in evaluating service quality are defined by the customer. (Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry 1990).
This report has been able to show that service quality dimensions vary across service industries. This contention is supported by research undertaken in Australia using the SERVQUAL instrument developed by Parasuraman et al (1985).
Service firms need to be careful in making assumptions about how customers define service quality. They need to recognise the importance of understanding how customers define and measure service quality, so that they can develop appropriate strategies for design of quality into services, to aid implementation in service operations and to effectively manage service quality throughout all areas of the organisation.
Defining and measuring service quality are two of five stages in a total service quality process proposed by the author. She contends that service firms that apply the total process defining, measuring, designing, implementing and managing service quality can gain a competitive advantage through the synergy that is created.
A review of the literature into services and service quality has revealed several issues. Defining quality and service quality has been a difficult task for researchers. There have evolved different views of service quality focusing on manufacturing/production, strategic elements. marketing, human resources, and strategic management.
Several authors have developed and recommended strategies to improve service quality in the design, or implementation stage of the process. Few have identified the potential of combining these stages to form a synergistic approach to service quality.
The SERVQUAL instrument has contributed enormously to the understanding of how consumers define service quality and on what dimensions they evaluate it. The findings from the research described in this report indicate that the differences between service industries may have greater impact on customer's evaluation processes then was first thought.
It may be time to expand this thinking on service quality into determining how different these dimensions of service quality are in terms of their importance to consumers.