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THE SERVQUAL METHODOLOGY FOR A RESEARCH PROJECT WORK
There have been several calls from researchers all over Nigeria to us about how to derive the servqual methodology for a research work.
Well the servqual methodology is not as popular as other research methodologies; although the servqual methodology is very effective in the areas of research for the determination of service quality. The service quality we are talking about here is the area of customers’ satisfaction for a particular service render to him or her.
A research student can go online and select one or two Free Undergraduate Project Topics and research materials to for he/her research work concerning the quality of service rendered to a particular customer by a service firm.
The best research methodology for the research project work has to be the adoption of the servqual methodology. Below is an example of the servqual methodology for the purpose of the research project work:
This chapter examines the research methodology used in this study. Many scholars have conducted several research on packaging in Nigeria and all over the world, however not a single studies have been conducted on the role of packaging in the services industry. This study is not oblivious of the giant strides made by other researchers, but found it equally necessary to carry out a survey in Nigeria
A research design provides a framework for the collection and analysis of data. A choice of research design reflects decisions about the priority being given to the following; expressing causal connections between variables, generalizing to larger groups of individuals than those actually forming part of the investigation, understanding behavior and meaning of that behaviour in its specific social context and having a temporal (i.e. over time) appreciation of social phenomena and their interconnections (Bryman & Bell, 2007, p.40). There are five different types of research designs: experimental design; cross-sectional or social survey design; longitudinal design; case study design; and comparative design (Bryman & Bell, 2007).
Cross-sectional design which we are using for our study, entails the collection of data on more than one case (usually quite a lot more than one) and at a single point in time in order to collect a body of quantitative or quantifiable data in connection with two or more variables (usually many more than two), which are then examined to detect patterns of association (Bryman & Bell, 2007, p.55). This design considers more than one case because it is interested in the association between cases, at a single point in time meaning data are collected on variables simultaneously. Data must be quantifiable in order to establish variation between cases. This design also allows examination of relationship between variables and no causal inference can be established because data is collected simultaneously and the researcher cannot manipulate any variables (Bryman & Bell, 2007, p.55).
We choose this design because a lot of research works have been done on subjects that relate to our topic, the effect of product branding and equipments on customer patronage in the service industries. This has been a problem for us to be able to delimit our work uniquely but this will be useful to us in designing questionnaires. It enables us to be able to identify and categorize our variables which eases our design of questionnaires such that they can capture all the data we need from the respondents. We are studying the effect of product branding and equipments on customer patronage in the service industries, and we will be approaching the respondents to find out their perceptions of service quality in service industries experiences based on the dimensions of the SERVQUAL model. This enables us to assess how the respondents perceive service quality in most service industries in a quantitative way and thereby make conclusions by evaluating their gap score means. The dimensions of the SERVQUAL model used for measuring service quality (Parasuraman et al., 1988) are efficiently exploited when we carry out surveys, since it deals with expectations and perceptions of individuals about services offered by retailers. For us to know how customers perceive service quality, it is appropriate to use self completed questionnaires which give the respondents a chance to independently and anonymously give answers that reflect their expectations and perceptions. This questionnaire is developed from the SERVQUAL model and this makes it objective and not bias. In business research, it is hardly possible to control or manipulate a variable which is a good reason to count on social survey. Variables like gender, age, and social background are given and cannot be amended (Bryman & Bell, 2007, p.58). This makes it totally unfeasible to use the experimental design and we resort to the social survey.
POPULATION OF STUDY
The population of study refers to all the people or things that fall under the umbrella of the topic or that can be examined to address the research problem or meet the research objectives. The study will make use of the entire population of service industries as the study area.
SAMPLE SIZE/SAMPLE TECHNIQUE
The sample was applied in 40 people, the results confirming its position in the market but the main guidelines that the service industry has to its customers. The questions from the questionnaires used by reviewers are grouped by service quality dimensions in total SERVQUAL contains 6 questions that are adjusted according to the type of service evaluated. When completing the questionnaire client should consider the extent to which the service should meet specified quality attributes, respectively, to appreciate what it means for that service quality based on its own experience as a user of the service. The answers reflect customer expectations and perceptions of service quality. Customer responses consisted in of two marks each attribute grant, on a Likert scale with 7 degrees of intensity. If the respondent believes that the service meets attribute when given high note 7 ("total agreement"), or on the contrary minimum grade 1 ("strongly disagree")
The major instrument for data collection in this study is the questionnaire. The questionnaire was primarily meant to address the research questions while avoiding possible ambiguities of meanings for the respondents. It consisted of questions formed into two parts to address the research questions of the study. The respondents provided answers to the questions from parts A and B.
The questionnaire will be titled: “the role of packaging in the service industry”. The questionnaire will be divided into two (2) sections covering the research questions raised in chapter one of the study. The various sections are as follows:
Section A: Bio-data of the respondents
Section B: the effect of product branding and equipments on customer patronage in the service industries.
VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF INSTRUMENT
The questionnaire will be submitted to the supervisor for validation after which correction made will be effected and the questionnaire will be released into the field for data gathering.
A reliability test will be conducted on the preliminary data collected for the purpose of pretesting. SPSS will be used for the reliability test and the results indicating the cronbach’s alpha that determines the degree of reliability will be presented.
SOURCES OF DATA COLLECTION
Sources of data collection for this study include primary and secondary sources:
Primary sources: Primary data will collected from respondents through the use of carefully structured questionnaire. In-depth interview will also be conducted to ascertain the role of packaging in the service industry.
Secondary data: Secondary data that will be used in this study will be collected through the various Libraries (Universities Library, State and national Libraries), internet materials, journals and lecture notes.
SERVICE QUALITY MODEL
As stated earlier service quality has been defined differently by different people and there is no consensus as to what the actual definition is. We have adopted the definition by Parasuraman et al., (1988, p.5), which defines service quality as the discrepancy between a customers’ expectation of a service and the customers’ perception of the service offering. Measuring service quality has been one of the most recurrent topics in management literature, Parasuraman et al., (1988), Gronroos, (1984), Cronin et al., (1992). This is because of the need to develop valid instruments for the systematic evaluation of firms’ performance from the customer point of view; and the association between perceived service quality and other key organizational outcomes, Cronin et al., (2010, p.93), which has led to the development of models for measuring service quality. Gilbert et al., (2004, p.372-273) reviewed the various ways service quality can be measured. They include;
1) The expectancy-disconfirmation approach which is associated with the identifying of customer expectation versus what they actually experienced. It focuses on the comparison of the service performance with the customer’s expectations. The customer’s expectations could be assessed after the service encounter by asking him/her to recall them.
2) Performance-only approach merely assesses service quality by merely asking customers about their level of satisfaction with various service features following a service encounter.
3) Technical and functional dichotomy approaches identify two service components that lead to customer satisfaction namely, the technical quality of the product which is based on product characteristics such as durability, security, physical features while functional quality is concerned with the relationships between service provider and customer such as courtesy, speed of delivery, helpfulness.
4) Service quality versus service satisfaction approach which mainly focuses on two service components that are interrelated; the transition-specific assessment which evaluates specific features of quality and the overall assessment which evaluates overall quality. This approach links perceived quality at the time of the service encounter or immediately after it and overall satisfaction with the service. Perceived quality is based on attributes of the service over which the company has control and it is a measure of the consumer’s assessments of the service’s value without comparison to consumer’s expectation.
5) Attribute importance approach focuses on the relative weight on the importance the consumer places on attributes found to be linked with service satisfaction. Parasuraman et al., 1985, (p.41-50) developed a conceptual model of service quality where they identified five gaps that could impact the consumer’s evaluation of service quality in four different industries (retail banking, credit card, securities brokerage, medicare and product maintenance). These gaps were;
Gap 1: Consumer expectation - management perception gap Service firms may not always understand what features a service must have in order to meet consumer needs and what levels of performance on those features are needed to bring deliver high quality service. This results to affecting the way consumers evaluate service quality.
Gap 2: Management perception - service quality specification gap This gap arises when the company identifies want the consumers want but the means to deliver to expectation does not exist. Some factors that affect this gap could be resource constraints, market conditions and management indifference. These could affect service quality perception of the consumer.
Gap 3: Service quality specifications – service delivery gap Companies could have guidelines for performing service well and treating consumers correctly but these do not mean high service quality performance is assured. Employees play an important role in assuring good service quality perception and their performance cannot be standardised. This affects the delivery of service which has an impact on the way consumers perceive service quality.
Gap 4: Service delivery – external communications gap External communications can affect not only consumer expectations of service but also consumer perceptions of the delivered service. Companies can neglect to inform consumers of special efforts to assure quality that are not visible to them and this could influence service quality perceptions by consumers.
Gap 5: Expected Service – perceived service gap From their study, it showed that the key to ensuring good service quality is meeting or exceeding what consumers expect from the service and that judgement of high and low service quality depend on how consumers perceive the actual performance in the context of what they expected. Parasuraman et al., (1988), later developed the SERVQUAL model which is a multiitem scale developed to assess customer perceptions of service quality in service and retail businesses. The scale decomposes the notion of service quality into five constructs as follows: Tangibles, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance and empathy. It bases on capturing the gap between customers expectations and experience which could be negative or positive if the expectation is higher than experience or expectation is less than or equal to experience respectively.
The SERVPERF model developed by Cronin & Taylor, (1992), was derived from the SERVQUAL model by dropping the expectations and measuring service quality perceptions just by evaluating the customer’s the overall feeling towards the service. In their study, they identified four important equations:
SERVQUAL =Performance – Expectations Weighted SERVQUAL = importance x (performance – expectations) SERVPERF = performance Weighted SERFPERF = importance x (performance) Implicitly the SERVPERF model assesses customers experience based on the same attributes as the SERVQUAL and conforms more closely on the implications of satisfaction and attitude literature, Cronin et al., (1992 p.64).
METHOD/TECHNIQUES OF DATA ANALYSIS
The quantitative analyses with the use of statistical tools (descriptive and inferential); there are several software packages for the analysis of quantitative data some of which are broader in scope and user friendly like the SPSS. SPSS may obviously not be the best but its user friendly nature and the mastery we have of SPSS automatically makes it better for the research work.
The study will also try to verify if there are some variables in the SERVQUAL model that are related using factor analysis. This factor analysis will enable the research work find out if the SERVQUAL model is good to assess service quality in shop rite Warri. Factor analysis will regroup similar items under the same dimension and in case items under the same dimension according to original SERVQUAL instrument regroup under same factor, then it is appropriate to use in measuring service quality.
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