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Probing user perceptions of service quality: using focus groups to enhance quantitative surveys

Gwyneth H. Crowley (Head of Information Services, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, Annandale‐on‐Hudson, New York, USA. E‐mail:
Charles L. Gilreath (Associate University Librarian for Advanced Studies, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA. E‐mail: charles‐

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 1 August 2002



Pencil‐and‐paper surveys can provide useful information about user perceptions of service quality in libraries, but qualitative methods must be used to gain more precise understanding of problem areas. Texas A&M University Libraries conducted focus group studies in spring 2001 with graduate and undergraduate studies in order to gather specific information related to their satisfaction with and confidence in the assistance provided at library service points. The sessions revealed that users were generally pleased with the assistance provided them by professional staff at reference desks and that they found librarians to be usually patient and helpful. Elements of dissatisfaction identified by the sessions included a sense of inability or unwillingness to assist at some service points and a perceived lack of knowledge of the library, particularly by student workers and staff at locations away from reference areas. The data are being used to improve library directional tools and to improve staff training for public services staff.



Crowley, G.H. and Gilreath, C.L. (2002), "Probing user perceptions of service quality: using focus groups to enhance quantitative surveys", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 78-84.




Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited

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