Identifying critical service issues in the service encounter – a first step in the development of a conceptual model for the shipping industry
Abstract: Title Identifying critical service issues in the service encounter – a first step in the development of a conceptual for the shipping industry Author Claas Boomgaarden Key Words Service Quality, Service Encounter, SERVQUAL, INDSERV, PDSQ, LSQM, Shipping Industry, Service Science, Service Dominant Logic, Relationship Marketing Purpose The purpose of this research is to provide a first step in the development of a conceptual model for service quality in the shipping industry. Theoretical Perspectives This study is embedded in the theoretical field of service quality. Due to the lack of applicable models for the shipping industry, the existing literature of service quality for the business-to-consumer as well as business-to-business sector where combined to provide the theoretical framework for this study. Even though other models were analysed and considered in the theoretical background, eventually models like the SERVQUAL model, the INDSERV model, as well as the Physical Distribution Service Quality (PDSQ) model and the Logistics Service Quality (LSQ) model built the guideline for the data collection process. Methodology In accordance with the explorative purpose of this research, a qualitative case study, with German freight forwarders as the unit of interest, was set up. The collection of empirical data and their analysis followed the abductive hermeneutic approach. Empirical Data The empirical data for this study was derived from eight semi-structured interviews with industry experts, which lasted between twenty minutes and one hour. Conclusion The study has shown that critical service issues are depending on the value and the implied requirements of the shipped product. Nevertheless, availability, time and price as well as a flawless and fast service and good contact to contact personnel were identified as critical service issues. In order to provide a first step in the development of a conceptual model for service quality in the shipping industry, the dimensions of responsiveness, reliability/discrepancy handling, flexibility and contact to contact personnel are proposed. Further, the study shows the interconnectivity of these dimensions and proposes enabler dimensions in the form of contact person quality and process quality. By identifying these critical service issues as well as the service dimensions and their interconnectivity, the partial adaptation of established service quality measurement systems is confirmed. However, also their shortcomings are presented and this gap is closed through modification or adaptation of new dimensions.
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