Journal of Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction

The paper explores the relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction in public transport service taking into account both internal and external perspectives. In order to analyses this relationship, the concepts of service quality, consumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction are assessed. A model of analysis Is developed aiming at explaining this relationship and guiding the empirical study. This Is based on an exploratory case study of a metro company in Europe. The results of the study put In evidence two key findings.

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The first Is related to the level of service quality In Its mall dimensions. We conclude that reliability, security, speed, comfort ND punctuality are quality dimensions of greater importance for the public transport services. Secondly, the study explores satisfaction and their determinants. Despite literature stipulates the existence of a distinction between the constructs of quality and satisfaction, this study found that the transport company, non-customers and customers clearly do not make such a distinction.

Keywords: service quality, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, public transport Marketing researchers have, for a long time, recognized the importance of service quality as well as consumer satisfaction. Significant Investigation has been conducted In both fields, particularly In services (CB. Andresen, 1995; Advertised, 1998; Farman e Gargling, 2001; Highs et al. , 2005). However, few studies have explored the both sides of the service process: operations (the internal side) and customer (the external side) perspectives of quality and satisfaction.

In the public sector this is likely to be of particular interest. Public services, such as public transportation, have to meet the needs of the customers playing, at the same time, a role in economic and urban sustainability. They halogen operations to deliver quality to serve customers and non-customers while making the best use of company resources. The objective of this article is to identify the determinants of service quality and its impact on the satisfaction of public transport commuters. It Is divided into five sections beyond this introductory section.

It begins with a review of the literature that synthesizes and discusses some concepts considered relevant for the research. Then It addresses the methodology used In the study, as well as a number of considerations about the quality of the research design. The next section presents the findings. Which are followed by a conclusions, managerial implications and some suggestions for further research. The theoretical background is developed around three major issues: quality, satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

In the management context, the word quality can be used to refer to different things: accordance with the specifications (Levity, 1972; Curran and Granary, 1991); excellence (Carving, 1984); accordance with the requirements, adequacy of use, prevention of losses, or how to answer to or to exceed consumer expectations (Garömorons, 1984, Pursuant, Chitchat and Berry, 1985, 1988). Through such a variety of concepts, the common point of most of the definitions, exception for the first one, is that of targeting the consumer.

In this research, quality is presented in the perspective of perceived quality because it is the most commonly used in the services area. Moreover, the research led to a better understanding of the existence or the non-existence of differences between quality and satisfaction. These arguments were enriched by the literature review of each theme, particularly satisfaction which is presented next. Literature about satisfaction has to be adapted o the context which is to be studied.

Customer satisfaction is seen as an answer to completion and fulfillment of needs (Oliver, 1996); a psychological state (Howard and Sheet, 1969) and as an assessment of overall evaluation (Westbrook, 1987). Moreover, consumer satisfaction is seen as a cognitive response (Bolton and Drew, 1991; TTS and Hilton, 1988), an emotional answer (Caudate and Turn-on, 1988; Hallstead, Hartman and Schmitt, 1994; Westbrook and Reilly, 1983) and as a result of a Volvo. 4, NO. 2, 2010 125 development process (Oliver and De Soars, 1988; TTS and Hilton, 1988; Swan, 1992;

Revelers and Alleviate, 1992). Although literature encompasses diverse meanings for satisfaction, they all share common elements. When examined as a whole, three general components can be identified: (I) consumer satisfaction is a cognitive and emotional reaction; (it) the reaction belongs to a particular focus, (iii) the reaction occurs in a particular period (after consumption, after choice based on experience and expressed before and after choice, after consumption, after extensive experience of using).

From the literature it also seems that there is not a general consensus regarding the nature of this concept. If some authors argue that consumer satisfaction results from a specific transaction that occurs at a given time and by the benefits and value of the transaction, others see consumer satisfaction in terms of cumulative overall satisfaction, based on all contacts and experiences with a company and the client’s experience until a certain moment. Literature on customer satisfaction also clarifies the concept of dissatisfaction.

For some researchers, these two concepts are totally different while for others, dissatisfaction is on one end and satisfaction is on the other end of the same continuous line, and it is stated that mom of the determinants are primarily a source of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. So, Dissatisfaction has been the focus of extensive research in the services area (Swan and Combs, 1976; Maddox, 1981; Caudate and Turn-on, 1988; Johnston, 1995; Advertised, 1992, 1998, Alexander, 1999).

From the literature, once again, contradictions amongst authors tend to arise. According to some researchers satisfaction and dissatisfaction are two different concepts, that is, the consumer can be satisfied or dissatisfied according to the level of received quality. However, for mom other authors, the two concepts are not opposing, but rather a continuum, in that, some determinants tend to be, firstly a source of satisfaction and others a source of dissatisfaction. A number of studies (CB.

Advertised, 1998) have focused on how passengers of public transport value quality factors, and the final result provides a measure of the value of different factors and ranks them. Nevertheless, there are not significant studies about satisfaction in public transports, especially in metro services. Another gap in literature is that most studies analyses customers, but leave non-customers aside. Furthermore, most studies use an external analysis based on surveys. Finally, the majority of the literature does not execute further analyses about the correlation between customer satisfaction and instantiation.