Academic journal article Australian Journal of Hospitality Management

INTERSERVQUAL: An Investigation of the Dimensions and Measurement of Internal Service Quality in the Hospitality Industry

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Hospitality Management

INTERSERVQUAL: An Investigation of the Dimensions and Measurement of Internal Service Quality in the Hospitality Industry

Article excerpt

Abstract

This exploratory study addresses issues related to the measurement of internal service quality in the hospitality industry by testing and comparing two instruments in a large entertainment complex. The first instrument, SERVQUAL, was designed to measure external customers' perceptions of service quality and the other, INTSERVQUAL, was developed after reviewing studies that focused specifically on the internal service domain and included dimensions not captured by the former. The results indicated that while the reliability of both scales was high, the superior construct and predictive validity of SERVQUAL suggested that it was more appropriate in conceptualising and measuring internal service quality.

Keywords: Internal Service Quality, Statistical Analysis, SERVQUAL, INTSERVQUAL

Introduction

Larger contemporary hospitality organisations include production, marketing, facilities maintenance, purchasing, finance, information technology, human resource management and other sections. For any organisation to perform effectively, interdependent individuals and groups within the organisation must establish working relationships across internal organisational boundaries. Individuals or groups within organisations depend on one another for information and support facilities so action can be coordinated and complementary (Ivancevich and Matteson 1987). Each individual or section within an organisation is, in effect, servicing other individuals and sections within the organisation. They are internal providers of services or internal customers receiving services.

Service quality and customer satisfaction has received significant scholarly attention, particularly in the marketing and management literature. In 1981, Berry suggested that service organisations should not only focus on the external customer, but also monitor the exchange of services within the organisation; that is, service provided by an employee in a department or section to an employee in another area of the firm. He added that such service recipients should be regarded as internal customers and traditional marketing techniques and methods could be applied to understanding and managing the internal service domain.

There are numerous methods employed to monitor and evaluate the quality of a service (Albecht 1990; Ballantyne, Christopher and Payne, 1995), but for cost and convenience, the survey method is probably the most popular (Alreck and Settle, 1995). A well-tested survey instrument designed to measure service quality is SERVQUAL (Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry 1988) and while there exists much debate regarding the soundness of this instrument on both conceptual and operational grounds, (Brown, Churchill and Peter 1993; Cronin and Taylor 1992, 1994) it has been the dominant model in service quality research during the last decade (Hemmasi, Strong and Taylor 1994; Walker 1996).

Although SERVQUAL was designed to measure external customers' perception of service quality, this article advocates that with little modification, it could also be applied to measure the quality of an internal service encounter (Parasuraman 1995). The assumption implicit in this claim is that internal customers use the same factors or criteria as external customers when evaluating the quality of a service. Not surprisingly, this assumption has been challenged in a number of studies (Gremler, Bitner and Evans 1994; Reynoso and Moores 1995; Vandermerwe and Gilbert 1991) and the findings raise questions as to the appropriateness of applying SERVQUAL to the measurement of internal service quality. This exploratory inquiry seeks to determine whether or not SERVQUAL is the most appropriate model for such purposes, in a hospitality setting.

Literature Review

Measuring Service Quality

In 1985, Parasuraman et al. identified ten key evaluative criteria that customers used to assess the quality of a service and these criteria were reduced to five after further empirical investigation (Parasuraman et al. …

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