The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www. emeraldinsight. com/1756-669X. htm IJQSS 1,1 Service quality, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intentions in fast-food restaurants Hong Qin and Victor R. Prybutok Information Technology and Decision Sciences Department, College of Business Administration, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA Abstract Purpose – This study aims to explore the potential dimensions of service quality, and examine the relationship among service quality, food quality, perceived value, customer satisfaction and behavioral intentions in fast-food restaurants (FFRs).
Design/methodology/approach – The construct reliability and validity was assessed using exploratory factor analysis and con? rmatory factor analysis. Structural equation modeling was employed to estimate the relationship among service quality, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intentions. Findings – Results indicated that ? ve dimensions were signi? cant: tangibles, reliability/ responsiveness, recovery, assurance, and empathy. Service quality and food quality were two main determinants of customer satisfaction. The insigni? ance of perceived value is potentially due to the homogeneous nature of the construct within the FFR group rather than the importance of the perceived value construct within food service. Originality/value – The FFR success model, using the original ? ve in the SERVPERF scale and another new dimension “recovery” to measure service quality, was empirically examined in the fast food industry. Several potential antecedents of satisfaction, including service quality, food quality and perceived value were also tested. Keywords Consumer behaviour, Customer satisfaction, Fast foods, Customer services quality
Paper type Research paper 8 International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences Vol. 1 No. 1, 2009 pp. 78-95 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1756-669X DOI 10. 1108/17566690910945886 1. Introduction Customers’ evaluations of the service quality are critical to service ? rms that aim to improve their marketing strategies (Cronin and Taylor, 1992; Jain and Gupta, 2004; O? r and Simonson, 2001). Firms that provide superior service quality also have a more satis? ed customer base (Aaker and Jacobson, 1994; Gilbert et al. , 2004; Gilbert and Veloutsou, 2006). Customer satisfaction is viewed as in? encing repurchase intentions and behavior, which, in turn, leads to an organization’s future revenue and pro? ts.
As a result of the direct link with pro? ts, the issue of service quality and customer satisfaction has become a focus of the hospitality industries. More and more companies are compelled to assess and improve their service quality in an effort to attract customers (Gilbert and Veloutsou, 2006). There are some academic studies to address the service quality and customer satisfaction in fast-food restaurants (FFRs) (Brady et al. 2001; Gilbert et al. , 2004; Kara et al. , 1995; Lee and Ulgado, 1997; Qin and Prybutok, 2008); however, most of the studies are limited to the relationship between customer satisfaction and service quality. Some other potential determinants of customer satisfaction such as food quality and perceived value are ignored. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, very few studies have examined the recovery ability of FFRs, much less of its effect on the perceived service quality or customer satisfaction.
Understanding the interplay between the recovery mechanism and customer behavioral intentions is important, because better recoveries increase the customer’s propensity to return to the same service provider whereas ineffective service recovery may reinforce the customer’s dissatisfaction with the service (Harris et al. , 2006). However, service recovery is not considered in the well-known SERVPERF model even though some ? ndings suggest that recovery dominates formation of customer satisfaction and behavioral intentions (Spreng et al. , 1995).
This study contributes to the investigation of the above issues. First, we seek to develop a FFR success model by examining the key dimensions of service quality in the fast food industry. Speci? cally, another potential dimension, recovery, is incorporated into the SERVPERF instrument. After establishing suf? cient reliability and validity of this instrument, we proceed with the second objective – to examine the relationship among service quality, food quality, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intentions. The organization of this paper includes another ? e sections. The theoretical foundation of perceived service quality and its dimensions are reviewed in the next section, followed by the research methodology including the development of the instrument. Then, the data analysis and ? ndings of this study are presented, followed by the conclusions and managerial implications. The paper concludes with a section on the limitations of this work and potential future research. 2. Theoretical foundation The importance of service quality is substantially addressed in the fast-food management literature.
Superior service leads to satis? ed and loyal customers whose continued patronage is essential to the success of FFRs. Conversely, poor service quality increases customer dissatisfaction and the likelihood that customers dine at a competitor’s FFR and/or become an active champion in persuading others to go elsewhere (Gilbert et al. , 2004). Hence, it is crucial for service managers to understand how customers perceive the service they provide, and what components might determine the nature of the perceived service quality in FFRs. 2. Measurement of service quality Over the past two decades, the research related to perceived service quality has swelled enormously. An important contribution to that research stream is Parasuraman et al. ’s (1988) 22-item SERVQUAL scale. This scale measures service quality by the degree of discrepancy between customers’ normative expectations for the service and their perceptions of the providers’ actual performances (Parasuraman et al. , 1985, 1988). Five dimensions are unsheathed as the main attributes of service quality across a variety of services. These dimensions include tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy.
Subsequent empirical works have applied the SERVQUAL instrument to measure service quality in a variety of business settings (Bojanic and Rosen, 1994; Fu and Parks, 2001; Furrer et al. , 2000; Gounaris, 2005; Heung et al. , 2000; Lassar et al. , 2000; Lee and Ulgado, 1997). Service quality in restaurants 79 IJQSS 1,1 80 Although the SERVQUAL instrument is employed enthusiastically, it has received heavy criticism from both a theoretical and practical perspective. The issues questioned include the use of gap scores, the overlap among ? ve dimensions, poor predictive and convergent validity, the ambiguous de? ition of the “expectation” construct, and unstable dimensionality (Babakus and Boller, 1992; Carman, 1990; Peter et al. , 1993; van Dyke et al. , 1999). By discarding the expectation portion in the SERVQUAL model, Cronin and Taylor (1992) justify their SERVPERF or performance-only instrument in place of the gap measurement approach. In addition, they provide empirical evidence that the SERVPERF instrument outperforms the SERVQUAL scale across four industries: fast food, dry cleaning, banks and pest control. The performance-only measures are used and suggested by many scholars in various industries (Gilbert et al. 2004; Keillor et al. , 2004; Law et al. , 2004; Parasuraman et al. , 1994; van Dyke et al. , 1997). In addition to the research of Cronin and Taylor (1992) in fast food industry, Jain and Gupta (2004) compare weighted and un-weighted versions of the SERVQUAL and SERVPERF instruments by conducting a survey of FFR customers in India. They ? nd that the SERVPERF scale is more effective in explaining the service quality constructs and variations in service quality scores within the restaurant industry. For the purpose of this study, we are following Cronin and Taylor’s conceptual model and use performance only to measure service quality.
Several previous studies suggest that modi? cation of SERVPERF is necessary for application to different service industries (Andaleeb and Conway, 2006; Carman, 1990; Olorunniwo et al. , 2006). This served as an impetus to investigate other in? uential components of service quality within the fast-food industry. Speci? cally, we investigated 60 customer reviews of FFR service at: www. my3cents. com. From those reviews, we gleaned that most of the customers experiencing dissatisfactory service were complaining about the poor resolution of their negative experience rather than the service incidence itself.
This supports the contention that most customers can accept that service is not ? awless and mistakes are tolerated if they believe that the restaurant is concerned about resolution of the service problem. This is consistent with prior ? ndings in the literature (Bitner et al. , 1990; Heskett et al. , 1994; McColl et al. , 2005). Failure itself does not necessarily lead to customer dissatisfaction; however, failure to handle recoveries effectively can lead to lost customers and negative word-of-mouth (Heskett et al. , 1994; McColl et al. , 2005).