Service quality: beyond cognitive assessment Bo Edvardsson Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden

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1 The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at wwwemeraldinsightcom/researchregister The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at wwwemeraldinsightcom/ htm GURU S VIEW Service quality: beyond cognitive Bo Edvardsson Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden 127 Abstract Purpose The aim of this article is to contribute to widening the scope of service quality by focusing on dimensions beyond cognitive The focus is on the role of customers emotions in service experiences Design/methodology/approach The article first discusses the service concept and implications for service quality It then focuses on the role of customer experiences, and then discusses the role of emotions in service quality Findings The paper presents six propositions related to service experiences when consuming services and the role of emotions in customer-perceived service quality Originality/value The paper contributes to widening the scope of service quality by focusing on dimensions beyond cognitive Keywords Customer service management, Customers, Perception, Consumer behaviour Paper type Viewpoint 1 Introduction and aim Is perceived service quality more than the outcome of customers cognitive? So far in service quality research, the focus has mainly been on the cognitive dimensions and on quality factors or attributes linked to service offerings in defining, conceptualizing and measuring service quality Service experiences and customers emotions during consumption have been very little researched An important assumption in this article is that service quality can be understood from both a cognitive and an emotional perspective An emotional response may start a cognitive process, and thinking may start emotional and affective responses Service experiences may result in both cognitive and emotional responses, thus forming the basis for perceived service quality In literature on customer satisfaction, consumption emotions refer to the set of emotional responses elicited specifically during consumption experiences (Westbrook and Oliver, 1991) Bagozzi et al (1999) define emotions as mental states of readiness that arise from cognitive appraisals of events or one s own thoughts Oliver (1977, p 319) suggests that emotion coexists along various cognitive judgments Consumption emotions have been conceptualized as distinct categories of emotional expressions: anger, fear, joy, or as a limited number of dimensions underlying emotional categories: pleasantness/unpleasantness, relaxation/action or calmness/excitement (see eg Plutchik, 1980) Positive emotions may lead to positive word-of-mouth behavior, while negative emotions may result in complaining behavior Emotions tend to have an influence on quality perceptions and customer behavior (Liljander and Strandvik, 1997) Customers respond to an event in certain ways in order to maintain positive emotions and to avoid negative emotions (Stauss and Neuhaus, Managing Service Quality Vol 15 No 2, 2005 pp q Emerald Group Publishing Limited DOI /

2 MSQ 15, ) During the consumption experience, various types of emotions can be elicited, and these customer emotions convey important information on how the customer will ultimately assess the service encounter and subsequently, the overall relationship quality (Wong 2004, p 369) Hence, the more we know about drivers of negative and positive customer emotions the better we understand customer perceived service quality and the better is the basis for managing service quality Service quality has so far largely been viewed as a cognitive evaluation of the performance of a service or a service provider (Brady and Cronin, 2001; Oliver, 1997) The aim of this article is to contribute to widening the scope of service quality by focusing on dimensions beyond cognitive The focus is on the role of customers emotions in service experiences Propositions related to service experiences when consuming services and the role of emotions in customer perceived service quality will be presented The article is structured in the following way: first, the service concept and implications for service quality are discussed Second, the role of customer experiences is focused on Third, the role of emotions in service quality is discussed 2 The concept service and implications for service quality Scholars have defined the service concept in many different ways[1] Most often activities, deeds, processes and interactions are used when defining the concept of service (Solomon et al, 1985; Lovelock, 1991; Zeithaml and Bitner, 2003; Vargo and Lusch, 2004) Lovelock (1991) defines services as a process or performance rather than a thing Most definitions also focus on the customer, and on the fact that services are provided as solutions to customer problems (Grönroos, 2001) We may conclude that service quality is linked to activities, interactions and solutions to customer problems Edvardsson et al (2005) conclude that the most common service characteristics intangibility, heterogeneity, inseparability and perishability (IHIP) have most often been discussed through the lens of the service provider, not the lens of the customer The issues raised as a consequence of the IHIP characteristics are all related to service delivery and how to manage services from the provider s perspective, not how to co-produce and consume services from the customer s perspective Services are produced, delivered and consumed during in time and space overlapping processes in which customers have a role as co-producers carrying out activities and deeds as well as being part of interactions (with eg front-line employees, other customers and technology) which will influence or decide both process quality and outcome quality Therefore, service quality perceptions are formed during the production, delivery and consumption processes: P1 Service quality perceptions are formed during production, delivery and consumption processes P2 Customers have roles as co-producers by carrying out activities as well as being part of interactions influencing both process quality and outcome quality 3 Service quality and service experiences In the marketing literature, experiences are often used to refer to a certain group of services including travel, music, theater, restaurants, hotels and culture The core of these services has to do with hedonic consumption (Hirshman and Holbrook, 1982)

3 The experience concept is now also used to add value to consumer services, for instance in telecommunications (services), educational (services), hotel (services) and airline services Ritz Carlton and Singapore Airlines, for example, focus not only on traditional service quality issues and factors such as reliability and assurance, but also on creating favorable customer experiences Here, a service experience is defined as the service encounter and/or service process that creates the customer s cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses which result in a mental mark, a memory (in line with Johnston and Clark (2001)) Some of the service experiences are especially favorable and others particularly unfavorable Both tend to stay in the customer s (long-term) memory These experiences will have a strong impact on customers quality perceptions According to (Voss, 2003, p 26), organizations focus more and more on experiences to engage customers, to create and support brands and to differentiate themselves The shift from a focus on physical products to service concepts is not always enough today Manufacturer of physical products emphasize not only product and service quality, but also stress experience-based quality Examples are Volvo in the car industry and IKEA in the furniture business Products become platforms for service experiences, and experience-based quality is emphasized Service quality issues have thus become a subject of great importance also for manufacturing companies and not only for companies in traditional service industries: P3 Service quality is perceived and determined by the customer on the basis of co-production, delivery and consumption experiences P4 Favorable and unfavorable customer experiences seem to be more and more important in forming service quality perceptions The role of emotions in service quality Berry et al (2002) emphasize managing the total customer experience They argue for two categories of service quality clues: recognizing clues of experience related to functionality and clues of experience related to emotions Customer delight, loyalty and profitability are linked to favorable customer experiences (Pine and Gilmore, 1999) What distinguishes the excellent from the average companies often has to do with these experiences and not only a value for money outcome and cognitive (Johnston and Clark, 2001) An emotional reaction is part of a quality and favorable experience (Cronin, 2003; Sherry, 1998) This is in line with Mano and Oliver s (1993) study on utilitarian and hedonic consumption judgments They argue that satisfaction is naturally tied to cognitive judgments and to affective reactions elicited in consumption (Mano and Oliver, 1993, p 451) Oliver (1977) claims that the role of emotions is gaining attention as a central element in service quality management However, the literature does not offer clear models (Grönroos, 2001) There are some recent studies suggesting that emotion is a fundamental attribute in satisfaction and that satisfaction models should include a separate emotional component (Cronin et al, 2000) Stauss and Neuhaus (1997) claim that satisfaction studies focus on the cognitive component and that not enough attention has been paid to the emotional component of service quality Wong (2004, p 366) found that negative emotions have a stronger effect on satisfaction with quality than positive emotions:

4 MSQ 15,2 130 There is a lack of empirical investigations of the role of emotion in service encounters and its relationship with key concepts in service quality management We need to know more about the role of emotions in forming quality perceptions: P5 There are two categories of service quality clues: clues of experience related to functionality and clues of experience related to emotions P6 Positive and negative emotions seem to be more and more important in forming service quality perceptions, and negative emotions have a stronger effect on perceived service quality than positive emotions 5 Discussion This paper starts with the question: Is perceived service quality more than the outcome of customers cognitive? Six propositions on service quality emphasizing dimensions not often being focused on explicitly in service quality research have been formulated Services experiences and customers emotions have been discussed The process, interactive and relational dimensions have been suggested by viewing service quality as embedded in processes, interactions and relationships By understanding drivers of emotions during service experiences through the lens of the customers, new challenges related to service quality have been raised to be dealt with when managing service quality These challenges should also be focused on in future research In this paper it has been proposed that: Service quality perceptions are formed during production, delivery and consumption processes Customers have roles as co-producers by carrying our activities as well as being part of interactions influencing both process quality and outcome quality Service quality is perceived and determined by the customer on the basis of co-production, delivery and consumption experiences Favorable and unfavorable customer experiences seem to be more and more important in forming service quality perceptions There are two categories of service quality clues: clues of experience related to functionality and clues of experience related to emotions Positive and negative emotions seem to be more and more important in forming service quality perceptions, and negative emotions have a stronger effect on perceived service quality than positive emotions Note 1 This section is partly based on Edvardsson et al, 2005) References Bagozzi, RP, Gopinath, M and Nyer, PU (1999), The role of emotions in marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol 27 No 2, pp Berry, L, Carbone, L and Haeckel, S (2002), Managing the total customer experience, MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring

5 Brady, MK and Cronin, JJ (2001), Some new thoughts on conceptualizing perceived service quality: a hierarchical approach, Journal of Marketing, Vol 65 No 3, pp Cronin, J (2003), Looking back to see forward in services marketing: some ideas to consider, Managing Service Quality, Vol 13 No 5, pp Edvardsson, B, Gustafsson, A and Roos, I (2005), Service portraits in service research a critical review, International Journal of Service Industry Management, (forthcoming) Grönroos, C (2001), Service Management and Marketing: A Customer Relationship Management Approach, 2nd ed, Wiley, New York, NY Hirshman, EC and Holbrook, MB (1982), Hedonic consumption: emerging concepts, methods and proposition, Journal of Marketing, Vol 46, Summer, pp Johnston, R and Clark, G (2001), Service Operations Management, Prentice-Hall, London Liljander, V and Strandvik, T (1997), Emotions in service satisfaction, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol 8 No 2, pp Lovelock, C (1991), Services Marketing, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ Oliver, TA (1997), Satisfaction: A Behavioral Perspective on the Consumer, Irwin McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA Pine, BJ and Gilmore, JH (1999), The Experience Economy Work Is Theatre and Every Business Is a Stage, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA Plutchik, R (1980), Emotion: A Psycho-evolutionary Synthesis, Harper & Row, New York, NY Sherry, J Jr (Ed) (1998), ServiceScapes: The Concept of Place in Contemporary Markets, American Marketing Association, Chicago, IL Solomon, MR, Surprenant, CF, Czepiel, JA and Gutman, EG (1985), A role theory perspective on dyadic interactions: the service encounter, Journal of Marketing, Vol 49 No 1, pp Stauss, B and Neuhaus, P (1997), The qualitative satisfaction model, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol 8 No 3, pp Vargo, SL and Lusch, RF (2004), The four service marketing myths remnants of a goods-based, manufacturing model, Journal of Service Research, Vol 6 No 4, May, pp Voss, C (2003), The Experience Profit Cycle, Research Report, Center for Operations and Technology Management, London Business School, London Westbrook, RA and Oliver, RL (1991), The dimensionality of consumption emotion patterns and consumer satisfaction, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 18 No 1, pp Wong, A (2004), The role of emotions in service encounters, Managing Service Quality, Vol 14 No 5, pp Zeithaml, V and Bitner, MJ (2003), Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus across the Firm, 3rd ed, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY 131 Further reading Johnson, M and Gustafsson, A (2000), Improving Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty, and Profit An Integrated Measurement and Management System, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA Lovelock, C and Gummesson, E (2004), Whither services marketing? In search of a new paradigm and fresh perspectives, Journal of Service Research, Vol 7 No 1, pp Vargo, SL and Lusch, RF (2004), Evolving to a new dominant logic of marketing, Journal of Marketing, Vol 68, January, pp 1-17

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