Assessing Service Quality in Outsourcing
When determining whether service delivery is meeting service expectations, it is useful to seek the views of the actual service users. One tool that we are making available on this site to assess outsource service quality is the OUTSOURCE SERVQUAL (or OUTSERVQUAL). This is a new approach available exclusively from this site as a service to the community. OUTSERVQUAL (Service Quality) is a self-administered questionnaire designed to measure how customers view/judge the service quality of suppliers and is based on the SERVQUAL approach by Parasuraman. Parasuraman et al (1994) defined service quality as the degree of discrepancy between customers’ normative expectations for the service and their perceptions of the actual service performance.
Parasuraman made the assumption that customers judge service quality by making a comparison between their expectation of the service that they should receive and their perceptions of the service that they actually receive. This is a harsh measure of course as often we have perhaps overinflated expectations of what can actually be achieved for a certain price.
Differences between expectations and actual performance are referred to as ‘gaps’. The OUTSERVQUAL instrument can be used to measure any the following five gaps.
Gap 1: Consumer expectation – management perception gap. This is understanding the difference between consumer expectations and management perceptions of the customer expectations (what they want versus what we think they want!).
Gap 2: Service quality specification gap. Where the gap between management perceptions of consumer expectations and service quality specifications that are required.
Gap 3: Service delivery gap. The difference of service performance between service quality specifications and the service actually delivered.
Gap 4: External communication gap. The difference of communications between service delivery and what is communicated about the service to customers.
Gap 5: Expected service – perceived service gap. The difference between expected service and perceived service from customers’ point of view.
Based upon these gaps, five behavioural dimensions of service quality were identified and can be used in the SERVQUAL approach. For this survey instrument these dimensions have been adjusted (based on our research) to be more in line with the assessment clients make of their suppliers in delivering an outsource service.
There are 5 Service Quality Dimensions.
1. Tangibles – The physical aspects of the delivery that includes the use of up to date technology, facilities and software. This may also include issues such as robust DR in place.
2. Reliability – Ability to perform the service to the required standard, at the right cost, accurate/error free work and stick to commitments
3. Responsiveness – Responsiveness to client issues and the degree of good support provided to clients
4. Assurance – Knowledge and skills of the vendor staff and degree to which vendor employees instil confidence in their ability.
5. Empathy – Good account management practices, fair dealing, open working and attention to specific client needs.
Users of the OUTSERVQUAL questionnaire will rate questions on a Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree). The instrument comprises 22 statements used to assess service quality across the five dimensions outlined above with each statement used twice – once to measure expectations and once to measure perceptions. There is also a question that assesses the importance of the five dimensions to you.
I have set up an free on-line version that 1stOutsource members can use for their own assessments – you can find it here: SERVQUAL for Outsource
Clients can assess their vendors (if you submit the results you should get a nice short PDF report to download) and vendors can assess themselves by putting ‘themselves’ in the position of the client. Try it out and as the test is still underdevelopment some feed back as a reply to this thread would be useful.