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Internal Service Quality and Employee Job Satisfaction

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Internal Service Quality And Employee Job Satisfaction

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The aim of this section is to explore how findings from previous studies are connected to the topic of this study by using relevant theoretical theories. Hence, this chapter will provide a brief definition of the concepts of internal service quality, followed by the measurement of the SERVQUAL model and finally employee job satisfaction will also be examined in this thesis.

Internal Service Quality

Dauda et al., (2013) findings revealed that internal service quality is one among the most researched topic that drives the researcher’s interest and which is more debatable in the research literature because of its definition and found that the internal service quality consists of two elements namely service quality and internal services. Service quality refers to “global judgement or attitude relating to the superiority of the service. The superiority of the service is confirmed by what the service delivers, which is the outcome and is evaluated after the performance, and how the service is delivered, which is the process and is evaluated during delivery” (Parasuraman et al., 1988, cited by Musaba et al., 2014, p.535). In other words, service quality is the perceived service by the customers that enable them to judge the quality of a service and that would actually lead them to the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of a service. While other author viewed service quality as “an attitude formed by a long-term, overall evaluation of a firm’s performance” (Hoffman and Bateson, 2006, cited by Musaba et al., 2014, p.535). Some earlier researches demonstrate that service quality can be defined to as the extent to which the service provided by a firm can meet the needs and expectations of its consumers (Lewis & Mitchell, 1990; Dotchin & Oakland, 1994) while on the other hand, Zeithaml & Bitner (1996) regarded service quality as the overall impression that the customers have regarding the service. Hence, “service quality is conceptualized as the perceived difference between the expected and actual service performance of an organization” (Bloemer et al., 1999; Kara et al., 2005, cited by Al-Ababneh, 2016, p.189).

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The basic principle of internal service quality is that the entire organization has to serve someone (Farner et al., 2001). Hence, likewise external service quality, internal service quality (ISQ) can be defined to as the perceived services offered by different organizational departments or people involved in these departments to other units or the employees working within a company (Miguel et al., 2006). For Strauss (1995), internal service quality is based on the attitude that people have towards each other and their approach to serve each other into the firm and the prerequisite to provide superior service quality to the external customers. In short, ISQ can be characterized to as the nature of interacting, supporting and communicating between the different people working within a company.

Farner et al (2000) observed that since internal service has an important role in fulfilling and serving each other; therefore, the internal service quality is essential for the smooth running and process approach of an organization so as to satisfy the external customers. He further propounded that the concept of internal service emerged to reduce the negative impact and for enhancing the quality of efforts provided by an organization. Extensive research have been done on service quality from customer perspective (external) such as Choi and Chu (2001); Juwaheer (2004); Markovic and Raspor (2010), but only few studies have been focused on internal customers service quality mostly in hotel industry. It is important to note that in the current environment ISQ has become a crucial tool to steer employee job satisfaction so as to improve the overall performance of a business (Dauda et al., 2013). Dorothea (2015) concluded that service quality is less explicitly explored in employee job satisfaction context regarding the service delivery to customers. Hence, the present study is to focus on the critical role of internal service play in the delivery of quality service on employees’ job satisfaction of a hotel. 2.1.2 The SERVQUAL Model

According to researchers, several instruments have been developed to measure service quality, such as SERVPERF, INTSERVQUAL and SERVQUAL models. The SERVPERF model Cronin and Taylor (1992) is used for performance-based for measuring service quality; while the INTSERVQUAL by Frost and Kumar (2000) is used for internal service quality and the SERVQUAL scale Parasuraman et al., (1985) for gap-based of service quality. The model (Figure 2.1) above developed by Frost and Kumar (2000) is based on the adaptation of the SERVQUAL model (Parasuraman et al., 1985; 1988). This tool was used to measure internal service quality (front-line staff and support staff) within large setting industry like in airline sector. The gaps are as follows:

Gap 1: Difference in support staff’s perception (supplier) of front-line staff’s expectation.

Gap 3: Difference between service quality specifications and the service actually delivered resulting in an internal service performance gap.

Gap 5: Difference between Front-line staff’s expectations and perceptions of support staff’s (supplier) service quality. This is the gap which focuses on the front-line staff.

Findings from that study revealed that service quality among internal customers was mostly affected by responsiveness as explained by the SERVQUAL model, while reliability was found to be the most important influencer Yarimoglu (2014).

Musaba et al (2014) claimed that the SERVQUAL model developed by Parasuraman et al., is one among the most widely used instrument to measure service quality. This tool was primarily developed to identify the difference between the expected and perceived services of the customers and is also known as a disconfirmation paradigm (Oliver, 1980; Bitner, 1990). The SERVQUAL model explains that this instrument is based on five distinct gaps that arises due to the difference in customers’ expectations and perceptions and are as follows Parasuraman et al. (1985):

Gap 1: Consumer expectation-Management perception gap

According to Marathe (2017) this gap occurs when the management failed to understand the customer’s desire and this gap is caused due to lack of marketing research, poorly interpreted information provided to the customers’ expectations, research not focus on audience quality of demand and greater number of layers between the frontline employees and management would lead to the first gap as explained by the SERVQUAL model.

Gap 2: Management perception-Service quality specifications gap

This gap points at the misunderstanding between management’s perception of consumer’s expectations and service quality specifications. Marathe (2017) observed that in this gap, despite that the management could have rightly understand what the customers desire, but they may not have set the right performance standards which occur due to improper planning processes, lack of managerial commitment, unclear or vague service design and unsystematic new service development process.

Gap 3: Service quality specifications-service delivery gap

The third gap occurs by failure to meet customer driven standards through the service provided by poorly trained employees, incapable or unwilling to deliver the service standard and is caused due to lack in human resource policies such as ineffective recruitment, role ambiguity, presence of role conflict, improper evaluation and compensation scheme, ineffective internal marketing (technology), failure to match demand and supply, lack of proper customer education and training (Marathe, 2017).

Gap 4: Service delivery-external communications gap

Marathe (2017) explained that many businesses promise to deliver a standard service through the business sales agent and promotion of the products to the customers, but the occurrence of the fourth gap comes when they failed to meet these assumed presumptions while delivering the service standard. He further found that this gap is the result of over-promising communication campaign, failure to cope with customer expectations and when they failed to perform as per the standards set.

Gap 5: Expected service-perceived service gap

According to Marathe (2017) the fifth gap arises when the consumer misconceives the quality of service. This gap is the result of all the previous gaps linked with the delivery of service. As per Al-Ababneh (2016) observation it has been noted that during the past years, the original SERVQUAL tool Parasuraman et al., (1985) of service quality was defined through ten determinants such as: reliability, tangibility, responsiveness, credibility, communication, competence, security, courtesy, understanding the customer and access, which were later on modified by Parasuraman et al., (1988) into five dimensions for measuring gap 5 Parasuraman et al., (1985).

The dimensions of service quality

Al-Ababneh (2016) further observed that these five dimensions of service quality have specific features linked to the expectations of the customers and that the SERVQUAL model can also be applicable to measure employees’ perceptions of service quality. The five attributes of service quality are as follows (Al-Ababneh, 2016):

  1. Tangibility (physical facilities, equipment and personnel appearance) – this refers to the physical facilities, equipment, personnel and communication materials that a firm has (Al-Ababneh, 2016).
  2. Reliability (ability to deliver the promised service dependably and accurately) – this refers to the employee’s ability to provide accurate and flawless services to the customers and should be done in the promised time (Al-Ababneh, 2016).
  3. Responsiveness (willingness to help customers and offer provide prompt service) – this indicates the employee’s willingness to provide their assistance to the customers in a company, as well as to provide prompt service (Al-Ababneh, 2016).
  4. Assurance (knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to gain trust and confidence) – this refers to the employee’s behaviour to win over the customer’s trust in that company and to make them feel safe. Furthermore, it also includes the employee’s ability to respond to customers’ queries and their politeness toward the consumers (Al-Ababneh, 2016).
  5. Empathy (providing individualized attention to the customers) – this refers to the employees’ ability to listen to customers’ problems, providing effective solutions and treating them as individuals (Al-Ababneh, 2016).

Musaba et al, (2014) and Al-Ababneh, (2016) affirmed that the five dimensions of the model (SERVQUAL) are operationalized in the form of 22 items for measuring service quality based on the customer’s evaluation of quality of service that is, the expected and perceived services.

According to Al-Ababneh (2016), analysis of the above mentioned five dimensions might enable a firm to assess the level of service quality which is represented by the gap between perceived and expected service of its customers and employees and thereby to develop policies so as to determine the gaps as explained by the SERVQUAL model. Employee Job Satisfaction

Definition

Similar to service quality, employee satisfaction also is one among the most researched phenomena within an organization and hence, can be described by different researchers. Employee satisfaction, is also known as job Satisfaction. Employee satisfaction is defined as a pleasurable or positive state of mind that a person gets from his job or of what he has acquired as experience from the job (Locke, 1976). Employee satisfaction is regarded as an important thing for any organization’s success as when the employees deliver the service to the customers and that when they are appraised of their work they feel proud and are more satisfied. If the hotel caliber experience discomfort at his/her work, the firm would definitely encounter failure. Employee satisfaction, therefore, is the result of “the gratification or prosperity that the employees get from their job” (Hellriegel et al., 1999, cited in Dauba et al., 2013).

Employee satisfaction is also referred to as an overall evaluation of the work for an organization. Employee satisfaction is considered as an important ingredient which helps to develop a committed environment between the employees and the firms. It is a machine that can lead to an improvement in the internal environment in the employee’s performance and helps in maintaining the quality of services to the customers (Dorothea, 2015). Some of the factors that contribute to employee satisfaction are work condition, pay and promotion, fairness, job security, teamwork and relationship with supervisor (Mosammod, 2011). For Cranny et al., (1992), job satisfaction is defined as an effective reaction to one’s job. This shows that there is a close relationship between employee performance and employee satisfaction. Therefore, the common way to measure job satisfaction is through rate of pay, work responsibilities, variety of tasks, promotional opportunities, the work itself and co-workers (Cranny et al., 1992).

Previous studies on the relationship between Internal Service Quality and Employee Satisfaction

The “Service Profit Chain” model by Heskett et al., (1994) was one among the first models used to associate service quality to employee satisfaction. This model outlined that employee satisfaction is a result of service quality (Dauda et al., 2013). It theorized that an improvement in employee satisfaction will lead to employee loyalty which will as a result elevate customer satisfaction and will eventually help in improving revenue and profitability growth of an organization. This model is used to establish a causal relationship between the constructs (Dauda et al., 2013).

Findings such as Heskett et al., (1994) and O’Fallon and Rutherford (2010) studies assert that the nature of service quality has an impact on employee satisfaction. On the other hand, findings in marketing services demonstrated that there is a close connection between service quality and satisfaction (Cronin and Taylor, 1992; Olivier, 1993; Babakus et al., 2004). It is further discovered that employee satisfaction is a powerful mechanism that can be used to assess the nature of service quality (Zeithaml et al., 1990). According to (Dorothea, 2015), satisfied workers are more effective, creative and trustworthy toward their work; and as a result they can play a crucial role of a strong core in providing high quality of service and achieving the organizational success of a firm. An extensive amount of research shows that satisfied employees can perform enthusiastically, have strong determination and can work better (Eksildsen and Dahlgaard, 2000; Yoon and Suh, 2003). Findings by Farner et al., (2001), showed that there is a connection between employees who perceived a higher level of service quality and customer satisfaction; while Coenen et al., (2012), notice that service quality has a strong influence on employee satisfaction which can as a result lead to customer satisfaction and customer retention. According to Schmit and Allscheid (1995), satisfied employees will be able to provide a good quality of service. The study by Mohammah et al., (2012) demonstrates that there is a strong association between service quality and organizational performance. Furthermore, related research revealed that employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction on one hand, and employee satisfaction and profitability on the other hand are closely correlated. Findings by Yee et al., (2008) found that employee satisfaction have a significant influence on service quality and customer satisfaction and which may in turn have an impact on the organizational effectiveness. Allred (2001) found that very often the front-line employees are faced with the difficulty to provide consistent service quality to the customers. Based on the research literature it has been found that the SERVQUAL approach can be closely related to employees’ perspective of service quality in a firm. The attributes of service quality such as tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy have a significant influence on employees perceptions of service quality and these factors can lead towards a more positive reaction to employee satisfaction. Hence, on the basis of the above study, a conceptual framework has been developed to examine the relation between internal service quality and employee satisfaction as it has been outlined that an organizational success to improve the five dimensions of service quality among its employees can lead to an improvement in internal service quality as a result can lead to employee satisfaction. Therefore, this study consists of two domains namely: Internal Service Quality and Employee Satisfaction.

a. Service Quality

The service quality applies the five dimensions which are tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy.

b. Employee Satisfaction

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