This paper aims to introduce and demonstrate a new model for service quality that separates out the measurement of service quality in ways grounded in psychological theory and methodological symmetry.
A review of experience in service quality management suggests that new approaches are needed. By seeking a way of managing service at different levels, with symmetry between data collection and data analysis, a model is presented that has more potential applicability and flexibility than is found in traditional models.
A national study in Namibia, Africa provided data that successfully demonstrate the method of working and illustrate the contextual, analytical and data management issues and the reporting potential out of complex service management data.
This new approach to the design of service quality measurement and assessment extends the capability that is generally found in other existing approaches. It provides a new foundation for further research into complex patterns of service success and that will establish more clearly the inter-dependencies between service encounters, service attributes and service measures at the survey item level.
Studies of multiple service sectors and multiple service recipient groups can now gather and manage large complex data sets and analyse and report that data in ways appropriate to the needs of different stakeholders.
In any context where service quality is a socio-economic or development issue, it is now possible to take a more careful and nuanced approach to the collection and aggregation of data, which will inform policy makers and other stakeholder groups at the national or regional level.
This new model addresses a range of problems that have been reported with historical approaches such as SERVQUAL and related methods of working. It also provides foundations for new designs for large-scale service management data collection, organisation and analysis.
The authors would like to acknowledge the helpful comments and contributions of the anonymous reviewers, and the ongoing assistance provided by the editors.
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