Student-Centred Dimensions of Service Quality

Service QualityAs an information service we are always looking at ways we can understand and improve the quality of service we provide to students and their supporters. One of the ways we do this is use the SERVQUAL quality measure (Parasurman et al).

The original SERVQUAL research showed the five dimensions’ relative importance to each other by asking customers to assign 100 points across all five dimensions.

Reliability

We need to perform the service we promised dependably, accurately and consistently over a period of time. From my experience I would agree that reliability is the most important dimension of service delivery. Customers want you to deliver what you promised when you promised to the standard you promised which may include:

  • Performing services right the first time.
  • Providing services to student on time or sooner.
  • Handling customers' service problems in a consistent and dependable way.
  • Keeping students informed about when services will be performed.

Responsiveness

Particularly in a busy service prompt service help student customers quickly achieve their objectives and help us increase enquiry and request processing speeds. Speed, understanding needs and flexibility are important in this areas as well as:

  • Willingness to help students
  • Readiness to respond to students' requests
  • Prompt service to students
  • Prompt response to students’ requests

Assurance

Confident and well prepared staff who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and common courtesy inspire trust of students. Assurance makes the success of any service interaction more likely and includes:

  • Staff who are consistently welcoming and courteous to students.
  • Staff who have the knowledge to answer student questions
  • Staff who are able instil confidence in students by being confident themselves.
  • Making students feel safe in their transactions with the service

Empathy

All of us like to feel special and caring, individualised approach to students can make for successful expectation management and service delivery. Even if you are unable to provide exactly what the student needs (and some of our rules and regulations make that likely) they can see you have tried and do seem to care.

  • Giving students individual and engaged attention.
  • Staff who deal with students in a caring fashion.
  • Having the student’s best interest at heart and helping them meet their objectives.
  • Staff who get to understand the needs of their student customers.

However we need to be careful with this approach as some individuals may not understand or appreciate the advances of someone who is trying to engage and empathise.

Tangibles

Although it is ranked quite low this dimension should not be overlooked. The physical evidence of the service conveys meaning.  If your operation or shop front looks professional that contributes to the overall customer experience. A well branded service, appropriately dressed staff and a comfortable and attractive environment for all contribute to the tangibles of service delivery as well as:

  • Modern equipment and visually appealing facilities.
  • Well-presented products and take-ways as part of the service offer.
  • Branded and visually appealing materials associated with the service

Measurement and action

Understanding these five dimensions of service quality is only the starting point. We need to collect and understand feedback from student customers and act on their perceptions of service quality in each of these dimensions.

.by Scott Castle
8 January 2008
updated 4 April 2017