The impact of servicescape on quality perception

The impact of servicescape on quality perception Purpose – Although numerous articles emphasize the importance of the servicescape (the physical facilities of a service company), the effect of the servicescape on quality perception has been inadequately captured by previous empirical research. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of the servicescape on perceived quality in a more comprehensive way. Design/methodology/approach – The article proposes a new model for assessing the effects of the servicescape on quality perception based on SERVQUAL. The model considers the special role of the servicescape (or what is called “tangibles” in SERVQUAL) by taking into account that the servicescape elements act as search qualities, while the other SERVQUAL dimensions represent experience or credence qualities. In doing so, the model captures direct and indirect influences of the servicescape. Additionally, a more comprehensive scale for the servicescape is suggested, which exceeds the mostly tangible aspects of the physical environment covered in the SERVQUAL scale. The model is tested in a population survey in two service industries (retail banking and restaurants). Findings – The results show that the servicescape plays a greater role than was supposed in most previous studies. The servicescape is not only a cue for the expected service quality, but also influences customers' evaluations of other factors determining perceived service quality. Thus, the servicescape has a direct and an indirect effect on perceived service quality, which leads the servicescape to have a high overall effect. The results also show that the servicescape is of greater importance in determining customers' evaluations of the expected service quality in a hedonic service compared to a utilitarian service. Research implications/limitations – Since the results of the study refer to two specific industries, the empirical results should be used with care. Thus, it would be conceivable that the influence of the servicescape might be larger even in utilitarian services if the customer spends an extended period in a facility. It is also worthwhile to consider the price paid for the service and consumer perceptions of quality relative to the price paid in future research. Further shortcomings of the study result from problems in examining the measurement models. Clearly, more effort is needed to develop a comprehensive measurement tool for assessing the service quality as well as the servicescape. Since the present study was primarily aligned with the general question about the meaning of the servicescape, the results obtained do not allow concrete managerial implications for the use of different servicescape elements. There is a need for further research examining the effect of single aspects as well as the entire servicescape. Practical implications – Service providers should give careful consideration to their servicescape. In accordance with findings from environmental psychology, the servicescape may not remain limited to tangible elements, but must also consider ambient components such as odours and background music. Originality/value – This paper provides a better assessment of the meaning of the servicescape from previous approaches. The servicescape is shown to be of greater importance for the perceived service quality than has been assumed. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Journal of Marketing Emerald Publishing

The impact of servicescape on quality perception

European Journal of Marketing, Volume 39 (7/8): 24 – Jul 1, 2005

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0309-0566
DOI
10.1108/03090560510601761
Publisher site
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Abstract

Purpose – Although numerous articles emphasize the importance of the servicescape (the physical facilities of a service company), the effect of the servicescape on quality perception has been inadequately captured by previous empirical research. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of the servicescape on perceived quality in a more comprehensive way. Design/methodology/approach – The article proposes a new model for assessing the effects of the servicescape on quality perception based on SERVQUAL. The model considers the special role of the servicescape (or what is called “tangibles” in SERVQUAL) by taking into account that the servicescape elements act as search qualities, while the other SERVQUAL dimensions represent experience or credence qualities. In doing so, the model captures direct and indirect influences of the servicescape. Additionally, a more comprehensive scale for the servicescape is suggested, which exceeds the mostly tangible aspects of the physical environment covered in the SERVQUAL scale. The model is tested in a population survey in two service industries (retail banking and restaurants). Findings – The results show that the servicescape plays a greater role than was supposed in most previous studies. The servicescape is not only a cue for the expected service quality, but also influences customers' evaluations of other factors determining perceived service quality. Thus, the servicescape has a direct and an indirect effect on perceived service quality, which leads the servicescape to have a high overall effect. The results also show that the servicescape is of greater importance in determining customers' evaluations of the expected service quality in a hedonic service compared to a utilitarian service. Research implications/limitations – Since the results of the study refer to two specific industries, the empirical results should be used with care. Thus, it would be conceivable that the influence of the servicescape might be larger even in utilitarian services if the customer spends an extended period in a facility. It is also worthwhile to consider the price paid for the service and consumer perceptions of quality relative to the price paid in future research. Further shortcomings of the study result from problems in examining the measurement models. Clearly, more effort is needed to develop a comprehensive measurement tool for assessing the service quality as well as the servicescape. Since the present study was primarily aligned with the general question about the meaning of the servicescape, the results obtained do not allow concrete managerial implications for the use of different servicescape elements. There is a need for further research examining the effect of single aspects as well as the entire servicescape. Practical implications – Service providers should give careful consideration to their servicescape. In accordance with findings from environmental psychology, the servicescape may not remain limited to tangible elements, but must also consider ambient components such as odours and background music. Originality/value – This paper provides a better assessment of the meaning of the servicescape from previous approaches. The servicescape is shown to be of greater importance for the perceived service quality than has been assumed.

Journal

European Journal of MarketingEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 1, 2005

Keywords: Service industries; Customer services quality; SERVQUAL

References

  • Performance‐only measurement of service quality: a replication and extension
    Brady, M.; Cronin, J.; Brand, R.
  • Improving the measurement of service quality
    Brown, T.; Churchill, G.; Peter, J.
  • SERVQUAL: review, critique, research agenda
    Buttle, F.
  • Practical applications of music in service settings
    Herrington, J.; Capella, L.
  • Effects of music in service environments: a field study
    Herrington, J.; Capella, L.
  • The marketing of services: managing the intangibles
    Rushton, A.; Carson, D.
  • The importance of servicescapes in leisure service settings
    Wakefield, K.; Blodgett, J.
  • The effect of the servicescape on customer's behavioral intentions in leisure service settings
    Wakefield, K.; Blodgett, J.
  • Customer response to intangible and tangible service factors
    Wakefield, K.; Blodgett, J.
  • The effects of music in a retail setting on real and perceived shopping times
    Yalch, R.; Spangenberg, E.

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