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Zone‐of‐tolerance moderates the service quality‐outcome relationship

Kenneth B. Yap (UWA Business School, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Perth, Australia)
Jillian C. Sweeney (UWA Business School, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Perth, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 1 May 2007




The zone‐of‐tolerance (ZOT) is an innovative concept that has attracted recent attention in the services marketing domain. The ZOT represents a range of service performance that a customer considers satisfactory, which recognizes multiple expectation standards, specifically adequate and desired expectations. This study aims to extend Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman's examination in 1996 of the relationship between service quality and behavioral intentions across the ZOT by heeding Teas and DeCarlo's call in 2004 to examine the relationship for specific dimensions. The study also seeks to extend outcomes to include satisfaction and value.


Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were used to assess measurement properties and regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses regarding the ZOT.


Consistent with several previous studies, two dimensions of service quality were identified: tangibles and process, the latter having a greater influence on satisfaction and loyalty. Contrary to expectations, the relationship between service quality and outcomes did not strengthen above or below the ZOT for any of these outcomes and was significantly weaker below the ZOT for satisfaction, loyalty and propensity to switch.


This study suggests a moderating role for the ZOT in the quality‐key outcomes relationship and implies that to maximize investments in service improvements, there should be a focus on increasing service quality beyond the adequate level, rather than seeking to develop a customer franchise by creating “delight.”



Yap, K.B. and Sweeney, J.C. (2007), "Zone‐of‐tolerance moderates the service quality‐outcome relationship", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 137-148.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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