Measuring perceived quality and satisfaction

Date of publication: June 15, 1991

Author: Dan Sarel


The paper focuses on measuring perceived quality and customer satisfaction. Following the introduction the paper consists of four sections. First a review of monitoring systems used by service industries is provided. The review examines key methods including operational measures, mystery "shoppers", informal observations and discussions with customers, customer hotlines, complaint analysis, consumer advisory panels, and various systematic formal survey techniques. The paper addresses the pros and cons of each method and concludes with recognizing the need for an on-going customer feedback measurement system, with special preference given to formal survey techniques. The second section examines the experience of the cruise line industry. This industry was selected because of its great success in delivering high quality vacations and the industry commitment to continuous measurement. The industry has been successful in surveying more than two thirds of the passengers on a regular basis. The paper describes the practices used in the industry, examines the results, and analyzes the innovative approaches that have been implemented. Special attention is given to: survey techniques, questionnaire design, traditional and innovative analyses, usefulness of data and reports. The third section compares the experience of the cruise industry to some of the latest writings and thinking on service quality measurement and identifies opportunities for improvement. Issues related to quality dimensions, Gap Analysis, marketing - operation interaction ,and Impact Analysis, are discussed. The final section summarizes the key findings and argues that the concepts and methodologies used by the cruise industry could and should be adopted by other sectors of the travel industry.

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