Measuring service quality in city restaurant settings using DINESERV scale

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1 Measuring service quality in city restaurant settings using DINESERV scale SUZANA MARKOVIC Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Opatija University of Rijeka Primorska 42, pp. 97, Opatija CROATIA JELENA KOMSIC Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Opatija University of Rijeka Primorska 42, pp. 97, Opatija CROATIA MIHAELA STIFANIC Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Opatija University of Rijeka Primorska 42, pp. 97, Opatija CROATIA Abstract: -Many researchers invest a lot of effort to evaluate service quality in tourism and hospitality industries using SERVQUAL scale, either in its original form or with modifications. The purpose of this study is to empirically investigate service quality in Zagreb city restaurant settings, based on the DINESERV scale. The questionnaire was designed in accordance with Stevens et al. (1995), and Andaleeb and Conway (2006). The main goals are to assess restaurant customers expectations and perceptions and to identify the main dimensions of perceived and expected city restaurant service quality. The model was tested on a sample of 12 restaurants in Zagreb (Croatia), resulting with 103 usable questionnaires on which statistical analysis was performed. The empirical study shows that 21expectations scores are higher than perceptions scores, which indicate a low level of service quality. As service quality is one of the key factors for achieving competitive advantages in restaurants, this study would help managers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of service quality in their businesses. Key-Words: - service quality, SERVQUAL, DINESERV, statistical analysis, restaurant industry, Croatia 1 Introduction Service quality is recognized as an important factor leading to the successful business performance of customer-focused firms. Considering the fact that service quality leads to higher profitability [1] and customer satisfaction [2], managers invest tremendous effort to measure and improve the service quality in their business. As customers are more exposed to different types of restaurant settings, they have developed a complex set of attributes for selecting a restaurant for their excellent dining experience. Previous studies on customer expectation and service quality perception in the food-service industry have revealed certain important attributes, such as price, food quality, value for money, service, location, brand name, and image [3]. There is a variety of measurement tools and techniques for assessing service quality. One of the most popular and widely used is the SERVQUAL ISBN:

2 instrument. In restaurant settings, service quality is usually measured with an adapted version of SERVUQL, called DINESERV (Stevens et al. 1995). A modified version of DINESERV is applied in this study as well. This study is divided into several sections. First, a brief review of service quality measurement in restaurant industry is provided. Next, the research methodology used in this study is described, followed by presentation and discussion of results. Finally, the conclusion with main research findings, limitations and suggestions for future researches are described. 2 Literature Review Service quality applied in a variety of service industries represents an important issue to managers and academic researchers. Service quality is more difficult for the consumer to evaluate than product quality because of the lack of tangible evidence associated with services [4]. Therefore, a service firm needs standardized, systematic and qualitative measurement to assess its performance, because service quality is an important measure for the success of a firm. Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1988) developed the SERVQUAL instrument for measuring service quality [5]. SERVQUAL is an instrument for measuring the gap between the service that consumers think should be provided and what they think actually has been provided [6]. The SERVQUAL instrument consists of 22 items that measure consumers expectations and 22 corresponding items that measure consumers perception of the service they received, grouped in five dimensions: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. Although the SERVQUAL instrument has been widely used in measuring service quality, researchers have suggested that it has limitations, including issues relating to measuring time, measuring scale and service quality dimensions [7]. In terms of restaurant studies, Bojanic and Rose (1994) adapted the SERVQUAL instrument in a chain restaurant with a diverse clientele and a varied menu that included international items. Stevens, Knutson and Patton (1995) created an instrument called DINESERV to assess customers perceptions of restaurant service quality. The instrument was adapted from SERVQUAL and was proposed as a reliable and relatively simple tool for determining how customers view a restaurant s quality [8]. The original DINESERV instrument contained 40 service quality items, but the final version of DINESERV contained 29 items, measured on a seven-point scale. DINESERV items fall into five service quality dimensions. Reliability was found to be the most important dimension, followed by tangibles, assurance, responsiveness, and empathy. This hierarchy of dimensions is very similar to that of SERVQUAL; the only difference is that tangibles are in fourth place in Parasuraman et al. s (1988) SERVQUAL research [9]. Many studies within the restaurant industry, using SERVQUAL, have been conducted: Saleh & Ryan, 1991 [10]; Richard, Sundaram & Allaway, 1994 [11] ; Bojanic & Rosen, 1994 [12]; Lee & Hing, 1995 [13]; Johns & Tyas, 1996 [14]; Stevens et al., 1995 [15]; Fu & Parks, 2001 [16]; Andaleeb & Conway s, 2006 [17]; Markovic, Raspor, Segaric, 2009 [18]; Wu & Liang, 2009 [19]; Ryu & Han, 2010 [20]; Markovic, Raspor, Dorcic, 2011 [21]. 3 Research Methodology The main purpose of this study is to empirically investigate service quality in Zagreb city restaurant settings. The study examines the level of perceptions and expectations regarding restaurant service. The study intended to answer three research questions: 1. What is the level of customers expectations regarding city restaurant service quality? 2. What is the level of customers perceptions regarding city restaurant service quality? 3. What are the differences between perceived and expected service quality in Zagreb city restaurants? In order to answer the research questions, the following hypotheses were proposed: H 1 : Reliability is the most important expected service quality dimension in city restaurant settings. H 2 : Reliability is the most important perceived service quality dimension in city restaurant settings. H 3 : There is a significant difference between expected and perceived service quality in city restaurants. The level of expected and perceived service quality was measured on the basis of 35 restaurant attributes. The first 29 attributes were adapted from the Stevens et al. (1995) study. These attributes represent five dimensions: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. The remaining six attributes were selected from ISBN:

3 Andaleeb and Conway s (2006) research and represent two dimensions, namely, price and satisfaction. The level of agreement with given statements was assessed using a seven-point Likerttype scale, with anchors strongly disagree as 1 and strongly agree as 7. The questionnaires were distributed in 12 city restaurants in Zagreb (Croatia). Restaurants that were included in the research represent different types of cuisine, e.g., national and international, Italian, Chinese, Greek, and Mexican. The research was conducted only in those settings in which managers agreed to participate in the study. Data were collected during a four-week period in March The restaurant s staff helped to distribute and collect the survey sheets from the participating customers. A convenience sampling method was utilized to collect data. Questionnaires were distributed to the customers who were willing to participate in the research, after their dining experience (e.g. after they paid the bill). Data analysis is based on 103 valid questionnaires. The response rate was 34.3%. Data were analyzed using the statistical package SPSS In order to meet the survey s goals, descriptive, bivariate (paired sample t-test) statistical analyses were conducted. Descriptive statistics was used to examine the demographic profiles of the respondents and to evaluate service quality expectations and perceptions of restaurant customers. At this stage, the first two research questions were answered. The paired sample t-test was performed to determine the significance of differences between perceived and expected scores of service quality and to answer the third research question. 4 Research results Descriptive statistical analysis was run on respondents demographic variables. The results are shown in Table 1. Table 1: Demographic characteristics of respondents (N=103) Items Percentage Item Percentage Gender Age Male Female Level of education Primary school Secondary school and above 1.0 College and university 23.3 MSc or PhD 5.8 Number of previous visits to the restaurant Never 8.7 Country of residence Once 25.2 Croatia 100 Twice or more 66.0 Source: Authors From the demographic characteristics it can be seen that female respondents (57.3 per cent) slightly outnumbered male restaurant customers. Most of the respondents were a younger population with secondary school or college and university level of education. Fully 91.2 per cent of the restaurant customers previously visited the restaurant at least once, indicating a degree of loyalty. Customers expectations and perceptions are measured on a seven-point Likert-type scale, where the higher the score, the higher the expectation (perception) of restaurant service. The results of bivariate statistical analysis are shown in Table 2. Comparing the research results of customers expectations and perceptions of restaurant service quality it can be concluded that the customers expectations are higher than the customers perception. The overall gap was -0.38, indicating a high level of service quality. The highest gap was identified in price (-0.84) and the lowest in empathy (-0.02). In total, nine out of 35 positive gaps indicate that the restaurant customers expectations are exceeded and the customers, satisfied with regard to these attributes. However, the 29 negative gaps indicate that there is much room for improvement. ISBN:

4 Table 2: Customers expectations and perceptions of service quality in restaurant settings Attributes Expectations Perceptions Mean a SD Mean b SD Gap t-value V1 Visually attractive parking areas and building exteriors * V2 Visually attractive dining area * V3 Clean, neat and appropriately dressed staff * V4 Restaurant s décor typical of its image and price range V5 Easily readable menu V6 Visually attractive menu V7 Comfortable seats in the dining room * V8 Clean rest rooms * V 9 Clean dining areas * V10 Comfortable seats in the dining room * Mean TANGIBLES ,62 V11 Service in the promised time V12 Quick correction of wrong service * V13 Dependable and consistent restaurant * V14 Accurate bill * V15 Error-free served order (food) * Mean RELIABILITY ,47 V16 Maintaining speed and quality of service during busy times * V17 Provision of prompt service * V18 Extra effort for handling special requests * Mean RESPONSIVENESS V19 Employees can answer questions completely * V20 Comfortable and confident feeling * V21 Staff provide information about menu items, their ingredients, and method * of preparation. V22 Feeling safe V23 Anticipation of customers individual attention * V24 Restaurant supports the employees * Mean ASSURANCE V25 Employees provide individual attention * V26 Special feeling V27 Anticipation of customers individual needs and wants V28 Sympathetic and reassuring employees V29 Customers best interests at heart * Mean EMPATHY V30 Expensive food items V31 Paying more than planned ISBN:

5 Attributes Expectations Perceptions Mean a SD Mean b SD Gap t-value Mean PRICE V32 Overall satisfaction with dining experience V33 Returning to the restaurant V34 Recommending the restaurant to others V35 Excellent quality of service Mean SATISFACTION Overall mean (35 attributes) Note: a Expectations mean ranges from 1 to 7; b Perceptions mean ranges from 1 to 7; SD standard deviation; *t-test (2-tailed Sig.) p<0.05 Source: Authors As expected, the dimension reliability received the highest mean score in the expectation (6.62) and perception (6.15) scale, while price received the lowest mean score in the expectation (4.84) and perception (3.98) scale. The highest expectation and perception items were Accurate bill, Error-free served order (food) and Clean, neat and appropriately dressed staff. The lowest expectations item were Customers best interests at heart, Expensive food items and Excellent quality of food, while the lowest perception item were Paying more than planed, Anticipation of customers individual needs and wants, and Expensive food item. The results shown in Table 2 indicate that there is a statistically significant variation in the mean responses in five dimensions based on the 21 variables. All three variables in the dimension responsibility and all 5 variables in the dimension assessment were statistically significant. Price and satisfaction had no statistically significant mean scores. 5 Conclusion The purpose of this study was to empirically investigate service quality in Zagreb city restaurant settings and to answer three research questions. Expectations and perception levels, as well as the differences between these scores, were identified using statistical analysis. Dimensions of customers expectations and perceptions regarding Zagreb city restaurant service quality were empirically examined. Therefore, all research questions were answered and hypotheses, tested. The results of descriptive analysis suggest that the most important expectation and perception items are items belonging to the dimension reliability, as well as the highest mean score. This indicates that the hypotheses H 1 and H 2 can be accepted. The findings of t-test analysis show significant differences between expectations and perceptions of customers for the majority of the restaurant attributes, exactly 21 of 35 attributes, thus confirming the hypothesis H 3. Comparing these results with previous studies of Markovic, Raspor and Segaric, 2010 and Markovic, Raspor and Dorcic, 2011, it can be seen that reliability is the most significant dimension with the highest scores for items Accurate bill, Error-free served order (food), Easily readable menu and Clean dining areas, regardless of the continental or costal region in Croatia. There are some limitations associated with this study. First, the sample size could be larger, for the reason that only 12 out of 240 restaurants in Zagreb were included in this research. A known problem is to get customers to fill out an expectations questionnaire before receiving the service, and a perceptions questionnaire after the service. In this research, only the domestic population was asked about the service quality in restaurants. In further researches, foreign consumers should be involved in the research. The period of data collection was short and for this reason only 103 questionnaires were returned. This suggests that the research should take place during one part of a year. Further research studies could examine restaurant service quality for a particular type of restaurant using larger samples or using different sets of attributes for each type of restaurant. Further research could extend the study range and include other study methodologies to analyze the restaurant service quality, to allow the restaurant service quality studies to have wider analysis. ISBN:

6 References: [1] Gundersen, M. G., M & Ollson, U. H., Hotel Guest satisfaction among Business Travelers: What Are the Important Factors?, The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 2, 1996, pp [2] Oliver, R. L., Satisfaction: An Behavioral Perspective on the Customer, New York: McGraw- Hill, [3] Hau-siu Chow. et al., Service quality in restaurant operations in China: Decision- and experiential-oriented perspectives, Hospitality Management, Vol. 26, 2007, pp [4] Bojanic, D. C., Rosen, L. D., Measuring service quality in restaurants: an application of the SERVQUAL instrument, International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1994, pp [5] Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., Berry, L. L., SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring consumer perceptions of service quality, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 64. No. 1, 1988, pp [6] Stevens, P., Knutson, B., Patton, M., DINESERV: A Toll for Measuring Service Quality in Restaurant, Cornell Hotel Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 36, 1995, pp [7] Heung, V. C. S., Wong, M. Y, Qu, H., Airportrestaurant Service Quality in Hong Kong: An Applications of SERVQUAL, Cornell Hotel Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 41, 2000, pp [8] Markovic, S., Raspor, S., Segaric, K., Does restaurant performance meet customers expectations? An assessment of restaurant service quality using a modified DINESERV approach, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2010, pp [9] Fu, Y. Y., Parks, S., The Relationship between Restaurant Service Quality and Consumer Loyalty among the Eldery, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2001, pp [10] Saleh, F, Ryan, C., Analysing service in the hospitality industry using the SERVQUAL model, Services Industries Journal, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1991, pp [11] Richard, M. D., Sundara, D. S., Alaway, A. W., Service quality and choice behavior: an empirical investigation, Journal of Restaurant & Foodservice Marketing, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1994, pp [12] Bojanic, D. C., Rosen, L. D., Measuring service quality in restaurants: an application of the SERVQUAL instrument, International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1994, pp [13] Lee, Y. L., Hing, N., Measuring quality in restaurant operations: an application of the SERVQUAL instrument, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 14, No. 3-4, 1995, pp [14] Johns, N., Hing, P., Use of service quality gap theory to differentiate between foodservice outlets, The Service Industries Journal, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1996, pp [15] Stevens, P., Knutson, B., Patton, M., DINESERV: A Tool for Measuring Service Quality in Restaurants, The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 2, 1995, pp [16] Fu, Y. Y., Parks, S., The Relationship between Restaurant Service Quality and Consumer Loyalty among the Eldery, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2001, pp [17] Andaleeb, S. S., Conway, C., Customer satisfaction in the restaurant industry: an examination of the transaction-specific model, Journal of Service Marketing, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2006, pp [18] Markovic, S., Raspor, S., Segaric, K., Does restaurant performance meet customers expectations? An assessment of restaurant service quality using a modified DINESERV approach, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2010, pp [19] Wu, C. H., Liang, R., Effect of experimental value on customer satisfaction with service encounters in luxury-hotels restaurant, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 28, 2009, pp [20] Ryu, K., Han, H., Influence of the quality of food, service and physical environment on customer satisfaction and behavioral intention in quick-casual restaurants: moderating role of perceived price, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2010, pp [21] Markovic, S., Raspor, S, Dorcic, J., What are the key dimensions of restaurant service quality? An empirical study in the city restaurant settings, International Scientific Conference Tourism in Southern and Eastern Europe (ToSEE) Sustainable Tourism: Socio-Cultural, Environmental and Economic Impact, Opatija, Croatia , 2011, pp ISBN:

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