Construction service quality and satisfaction for a targeted housing customer

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 2016, 23 (3), pp. 323 - 348
Issue Date:
2016-05-16
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Purpose-The impact of service quality on customer satisfaction during detached housing construction in Australia is investigated for a targeted customer-one whose expectations focus on "price and product" and not "service quality". The purpose of this paper is to see if service quality impacts on customer satisfaction during construction, despite the apparent conflict in expectations. Design/methodology/approach-A detailed single case study methodology is used, focusing on the aforementioned customer as the unit of measure. A longitudinal design is employed by measuring customer satisfaction and service quality "gap scores" at four stages during construction, using a survey instrument adapted from the consumer research literature. This is coupled with qualitative interview data coded into a linked set of definable service incidents. Findings-The study finds that irrespective of having price and product oriented pre-purchase expectations, customer satisfaction is closely related to perceptions of service quality during onsite construction. This only occurs for a selective set of "active" service quality dimensions-especially responsiveness and reliability dimensions. These dimensions appear to be driven by the customer's underlying level of exposure to both positive and negative service incidents, and the ratio between the two appears to direct the strength and direction of "gap scores". Once the physical end product materialises, the customer gradually focuses more on the objectivity and realisation this offers, and less on service quality. Originality/value-The paper facilitates theory development in terms of generating testable variables effecting the dynamic relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction, during construction. The approach enables an increased ability to identify and explain how contextual variables, linked to specific customer types, impact on the relationship. The generalisability and validity of the findings are discussed.
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