An Examination of the Quality of Customer Service at a Public Utility Organization in the GULF Region

By Saleh, Farouk; Al-Marzouqi, Ahmed | International Journal of Marketing Studies, February 2014 | Go to article overview

An Examination of the Quality of Customer Service at a Public Utility Organization in the GULF Region


Saleh, Farouk, Al-Marzouqi, Ahmed, International Journal of Marketing Studies


Abstract

The main purpose of this paper is to employ the SERVQUAL model to assemble systematic and objective first hand data on the quality of customer service at a Public Utility Organization in Dubai, U.A.E known as DEWA. Study results reveal that DEWA's customers attached greater importance to tangibles service elements rather than to service reliability or / to human interaction experiences. Invariably, all DEWA customers reported a substantial gap between the actual and expected or desired level of service quality. On the other hand, while most DEWA customers viewed service reliability as an important consideration, the residential customers placed a higher value on service reliability compared to commercial customers.

Keywords: service quality, SERVQUAL, customer satisfaction, public utilities, gulf region

1. Introduction

The present study employed the SERVQUAL model to assemble systematic data on the service expectations and perceptions of one of the largest utility organization in the Gulf region known as Dubai Electric and Water Authority, henceforth referred to as DEWA. When formed in 1992, DEWA's vision call for it "to become a world class utility organization" and its mission is, "to meet customer satisfaction and promote Dubai's vision through delivering water and electricity services by a competent workforce at world-class level of safety, reliability, and efficiency". This clearly suggests that DEWA intends to be viewed as a customer-driven organization. DEWA is one of the largest firms in U.A.E with total staff of well over 3,000 employees.

Over the last 20 years, the demand for DEWA services has increased markedly in both residential and commercial sectors thanks in large part to the new construction boom in Dubai.While DEWA has expanded its infrastructure and its human resources to respond to such increasing demand for its services, it continues to face considerable customer complaints. Most of such complaints relate to quality of the services rendered and around such issues as lack of staff responsiveness to customer needs, delays in power connections of new customers; Lengthy documentation required to commence service, multiplicity of the various inter-departmental entities involved in the provision of service to the public; Poor contingency planning to address power failure or water shortage; and lack of proper monitoring of service quality. Therefore, DEWA needs to take a systematic look at the concept of service quality, assess different aspects of quality and identify areas needing improvement. In short, DEWA must evaluate service quality as perceived by its customers. In addition, DEWA must supplement its customer satisfaction data which are generated through customer surveys and informal suggestions with a more objective instruments such as SERVQUAL with known validity and reliability records and is widely recognized as a proper measure of service quality than most informal, in-house measure used by some organizations for monitoring costumer's feeling states about service quality.

It must be noted, however, that this does not imply that the use of SERVQUAL or any other competing measures of service quality such as SERVPERF or Expectancy-Disconfirmation Model (EDM) will automatically improve DEWA's service quality or reduce customer complaints. Rather, It is believed a better measure of service quality would more accurately capture the areas where problems exist, and this would in turn, guide DEWA's management towards developing appropriate action plans to address customer concerns in a more objective manner.

The present research paper is designed to achieve following objectives: (1) to determine the quality of service that DEWA's customers expect to receive; (2) to determine the quality of service & actual service as perceived by DEWA's customers; (3) to determine the nature of the gap between customers' service expectations and perceptions of the actual service; (4) to determine the overall level of customer satisfaction with DEWA's service; and to identify areas of dissatisfaction that must be addressed in future DEWA's future planning efforts; and (5) to link the gap between the expected and perceived service quality to respondents' demographic characteristics and their level of satisfaction with DEWA services. …

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