The paper seeks to provide a theoretical and empirical investigation of the relationship between consumer expectations and consumer perceptions of service quality.
The theory of cognitive reference points, adaptation‐level theory, and assimilation‐contrast theory are used to formulate hypotheses concerning the relationships between perceived service quality, consumer expectations, and perceptions. These hypotheses were empirically investigated through an experiment that manipulated expectations and perceptions while measuring perceived service quality.
The principal finding is that consumer expectations are positive predictors of perceived service quality (i.e. higher expectations lead to higher perceptions of quality). Another finding is that the relationship between expectations and perceived service quality is much stronger than prior literature suggests.
The practical implication of this study is that practitioners should seek to actively manage their customers' expectations to increase those expectations.
This paper is valuable to practitioners who are seeking to use expectations to achieve higher perceptions of quality among their customers. It is also valuable to researchers who are seeking to understand the relationship between expectations and quality perceptions.
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