The intangible nature of the service is the biggest obstacle for customers in evaluating service quality. How would consumers be able to evaluate something that they cannot see, feel, taste or even hear? A massive amount of consumers lack knowledge and skills in the evaluation of the quality of many types of services. Customers must consequently place a great deal of faith in the integrity and competence of the service provider. Though evaluating quality is very complex, service quality appears to be the only way customers can trial a service over another. For this reason, services marketers’ attitudes and behaviour are fully dependent on how consumers judge service quality.
In delivering high levels of customer service, organisations must consider the following key issues that will be discussed next: the understanding of customers’ expectations; the establishment of service quality standards; the management of customers’ service expectations; and the measurement of employee performance.
A major difficulty in measuring service quality is that the quality of a service depends on the organisation’s understanding and conforming to the customers’ expectations. The difficulty remains in to deliver high levels of customer service an organisation must develop an objective understanding of customer’s expectations. This involves developing service attributes that customers use to evaluate and trial between service providers. For example, when evaluating a website, customers will form opinions about the availability and the content of information, the ease of use or usability, the graphic style, the privacy/security, the fulfillment, and much more (Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science; 2002, page 359). Though there is an unlimited amount of potential ranges of services attributes, it is possible to distinguish five common dimensions that customers use to evaluate the quality of a service. These dimensions include: reliability (consistency and dependability, customers’ evaluation criteria relies on if the service begins/finishes at the right moment or if customers are correctly billed for example); tangibles (tangible cues that can be used as a means to evaluate service quality prior to purchase, for example the condition of equipment or of the premises); responsiveness (willingness and ability of the organisation to provide the service, for example if the service is provided promptly); assurance (trust and confidence that the customer has in the service provider); and empathy (care and attentiveness expressed by the service provider, for example if the organisation cared about customers’ interests).