To contextually fit the retail industry, Dabholkar et al. (1996) developed Retail Service Quality Model (RSQS). Based on SERVPERF, RSQS includes 28-item scale, of which 17 items are from SERVPERF and 11 items are developed by qualitative research. The Retail Service Quality Scale composes of 5 dimensions, namely: (1) Physical aspects
(3) Personal interaction
According to Dabholkar et al. (1996), retail service quality had a hierarchical factor structure which comprised of five basic dimensions (see Figure 4). Figure 4: The proposed hierarchical structure of retail service quality Source: Pratibha A. Dabholkar et al (1996), p. 6 26
The detail explanations of the dimensions are:
1. Physical aspects – includes functional elements like layout, comfort and privacy and also aesthetic elements such as the architecture, color, materials and style of the store. 2. Reliability – a combination of keeping promises and performing services right. 3. Personal interaction – the service personnel being courteous, helpful, inspiring confidence and trust in customers.
4. Problem-solving – the handling of returns and exchanges as well as complaints. 5. General Policy – a set of strategies, procedures and guiding principles which the store operates under such rules as high quality merchandise, convenient operating hours, availability of parking spaces and payment options.
Physical aspects: Physical aspects of retailer include equipment and fixtures, physical facilities, materials associated with store’s service, convenience of physical facilities and layouts. In addition to the appearance of the facilities, it also takes into account the convenience
offered the customer by the layout of physical facilities (Berry 2004) Bitner (1992) refers to physical/technical enablers using the term “servicescape” (a combination of service and landscape), including ambient conditions (temperature, air quality, and noise), space and function (layout, equipment, and furnishing), and signs and symbols (e.g. signage, style of decor, and personal artifacts). Thus, physical/technical products or attributes are necessary dimensions when creating the conditions for a service experience (Bitner, 1992, p.61).
The retail store atmosphere also has been shown to have a positive influence on consumers’ patronage intentions (Baker et al., 1993). We expect this linkage in our study as well.
Atmospheric cues consist of ambience, design, and social factors (Baker, 1986, p. 24). According to research of Arun Sharma and Thomas F. Stafford (2000) store atmospherics can enhance customers’ quality perceptions, which lead, in turn, to higher levels of persuasion. Thus, store environments have become an increasingly important method of retail positioning (Levy and Weitz, 1995, p 105). The environment of a store is an important part of the shopping experience. The environment is offered by a store can influence consumers’ decision to visit the store (Kotler, 1973, p.48), and the retail environment can guide consumers’ inferences about merchandise, service quality, and enjoyment at the store (Mehrabian, 1974; Zeithaml, 1988).
Reliability: Reliability of retailers includes keeping promises to do something, providing right service, available merchandise and error-free sales transactions and records (Mehrabian, 1974; Zeithaml, 1988). 27
Personal interaction: The personal interaction dimension of retailers includes employees having knowledge to answer questions, inspiring confidence, providing prompt service, willing to respond to customer’s requests, giving customers individual attention, showing consistent courteously with customers and even treat customers properly on the phone (Mehrabian, 1976; Zeithaml, 1988).
The role of interpersonal interaction in influencing customer satisfaction
has been recognized in prior literature on services marketing (Ndubisi, 2007, p. 830). In contrast, for a business delivering service in interactive encounters with customers, “personalization” emerges as the most important determinant of perceived service quality, and of customer satisfaction and other patronage indicators (Lassar, 1995, p. 12).
Thus, an important factor in retail store loyalty is interpersonal relationships between retail salespeople and customers (Macintosh and Lockshin, 1997, p.487-488). Problem-solving: Problem solving addresses handling of returns, exchanges and complaints. The problem solving dimension of retailers includes: willingness of retailers to handle returns and exchanges, sincere interest in problem and handling customer complaints directly and immediately (Mehrabian, 1974; Zeithaml, 1988). General policy: This dimension captures aspects of service quality that are directly influenced by retailers’ policy. It includes high quality merchandise, convenience of parking and operating hours as well as accepting major credit cards. Intangibles can also reflect the specific norms and values of a company, e.g. its codes of conduct and corporate narratives (Edvardsson and Enquist, 2002, p. 115). The importance of interactions between the service and its customers is well recognized within the services marketing literature and they are known as ‘moments of truth’. Each moment of truth is an opportunity for the customer to evaluate the quality of the service that he or she is provided with (Duy Nhat at al, 2007, p.16). Processes that lie to the left of the line of visibility represent the back office mechanisms required to deliver the service to the customer. These processes also have an important effect on the perceived quality of the service (Lings, 1999, p. 454). RSQS has been used by some researchers in measuring service quality in certain types of retailers such as department stores, supermarkets and discount stores. Retail Service Quality Scale (RSQS) had been successfully adapted and validated in a retail store environment. A retail store experience involves more than a non-retail service experience in terms of customers negotiating their way through the store, finding the merchandise they want, interacting with several store personnel along the way, and returning merchandise, all of which influence customers’ evaluations of service quality (Mehrabian, 1974; Zeithaml, 1988).
The Retail Service Quality Scale (RSQS) scale provides information on how the customers (both internal and external) perceive the quality of the service with which they are provided. Where the customer is not satisfied with the service, information 28 from the Retail Service Quality Scale (RSQS) measures can be used to create specific targets for the supplier (Lings, 1999, p. 456).