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service quality on customer satisfaction in the UK fast food market

Added on - 22 Jan 2022

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ABSTRACT
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the five dimensions of service quality on
customer satisfaction in the UK fast food market and to indicate which factors among the five dimensions
have a main role in driving overall customer satisfaction.

Design/methodology/approach: Primary data in the form of 147 questionnaire responses werebeen
collected from a variety of quick service fast food restaurants in the UK. Likert seven-point rating scales
were used to structure the questionnaire. Data were collected from the customers at two KFC restaurants,
two McDonald’s restaurants, and one Burger King Restaurant.

Findings: The results of the analysis indicate that tangibles, responsiveness and assurance play the most
important role in driving customer satisfaction in the UK fast food industry, followed by reliability and
empathy. Results of correlation and regression analysis show that physical attributes (tangible) of service
quality are key to customer satisfaction.In a nutshell, the tangibles variable is the most important factor
driving customer satisfaction in the context of the UK fast food market.

Originality/value: This research incoporates unique and original insights in relation to the British fast food
restaurants market and the results constitute novel findings pertaining to the importance of physical
facilities and attributes. This account of the relative importance of service quality dimensions in fast food
restaurants in the UK adds value to the field.The findings of this research have contributed to a better
understanding of the main factors that influence service quality and customer satisfaction and have
implications from a managerial point of view in the highly competitive UK fast food and wider foodservice
industry.

1.Introduction

The global fast food restaurant industry has experienced strong growth in recent years in response to
changes in consumer tastes and challenging global economic conditions. According to IBISWorld (2015),
in the period since the global financial crisis and theworldwide decrease in individuals’ incomethere has
been a decline in spending on luxuries such as eating out which has increased consumerpreferences for
lower-priced and more convenient food options. Globally, the fast food market has shown modest growth
since 2011 reaching a total value of $2, 849,950.5in 2015 (Marketline, 2016). In terms of global
segmentation of the foodservice industry, full service restaurants represent 40% of the market value,
quick service restaurants (QSR) and fast food are the second largest segment of the market with 22% of
market value,whilepubs,clubsand barshave 11%ofthe market value and 9%relatesto the
accommodation sector (Marketline, 2016). .

The foodservice industry in the UK grew by an annual compounded rate of 2.3% over the period 2012-
2016 and by 2.6% in 2016 to reach a total value of $95.5 billion (Marketline, 2017).The foodservice
industry in the UK is structurally different in relation to the most important sectors with pubs, clubs and
bars representing 35.7% of total market value, followed by the quick service restaurant and fast food
sector with 26.1% and full service restaurants with only 15.5%. This is a significant cultural difference in
preferences for foodservice encounters and differs markedly in comparison to other European and
Western contexts, and relates to the popularity of eating out in pubs as evidenced in the growth of chains
such as Wetherspoons and the higher-quality gastro-pub market. When it comes specifically to the fast
food industry in the United Kingdom the sectoroverall has seen major developments over the years such
as the introduction of the drive-through restaurant format in the 1980s (Duffill and Martin, 1993) and the
current expansion of home delivery services . It is clear that the global fast food industry and the UK fast
food market in particular, have grown consistently in the recent past and generatesignificant annual
revenue. This makes for a promising operational context for fast food chains to improve their performance
and increase profits, especially in the UK. This study therefore investigates the impact of service quality
oncustomersatisfactionintheUKfastfoodrestaurantindustryforthepurposesofdeveloping
understanding that might help drive such continued growth.

For this study, three leading chains in the UK fast food restaurant industry are taken as subjects:
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), McDonald’s and Burger King.The three chains selected for this study
together constitute 50% of the total value in the UK fast food marketwith McDonald’s the leading brand
with 28,8%, Kentucky Fried Chicken with 12.5% and Burger King with 8.7% (Euromonitor International,
2017). The three restaurants also represent the only significant players in the quick service restaurant
sectornationallyandcurrentlyoperateinadiversefastfoodmarketwheretherearesignificant
challenges from Greggs bakery (8.7% of market value), Subway (6.6%), and the casual dining sector
which includes Nando’s (7.7%) (Euromonitor International, 2017). In a competitive environment such as
this, it is important that quick service restaurants are able to understand the determinants of service
quality and customer satisfaction.

Service quality can be seen as one of the key factors affecting customer satisfaction. Due to time and
length restrictions, the research addresses the impact of service quality on customer satisfaction results
of KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants through the five dimensions of the SERVPERF model,
namely tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. The purpose of this study is to
examine relationships between the five dimensions of service quality and customer satisfaction in order to
find out which factors drive customer satisfaction. More importantly, the results of the research will
contribute to the development of service quality as well as of customer satisfaction in fast food companies
in the UK. This study seeks to answer the following questions:

To identify specific service quality dimensions that have an impact on customer satisfaction in the
UK fast food restaurant market.

To explore the effects of tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy on
customer satisfaction in UK fast food restaurants.

2 Literature Review

2.1Service Quality

Parasuramanet al. (1988, p. 14) defined service quality as“the discrepancy between consumers’
perceptions of services offered by a particular firm and their expectations about firms offering such
services. Parasuramanet al. (1985) proved that if expectations are higher than performance then
perceived quality is lower than satisfactory and hence customer dissatisfaction happens. Service quality
is also considered to be a perceived attribute based on the experience of the customer regarding the
service that the customer perceived during the delivery process of the service (Zeithaml, Parasuraman,
and Berry, 1990). Delivering quality service means conforming to customer expectations on a consistent
basis (Angelova and Zekiri, 2011). In the specific terms of the fast food restaurant, whenever personal
exchanges occur between a customer and service employees thiscan be considered to be a service
encounter (Bitneret al., 1990). Similarly, Shostack (1985, p. 243) defined a service encounter asa
period of time during which a consumer directly interacts with a service. Wilsonet al.(2012) proved that
many positive experiences create a composite image of high quality service in thecustomer’s mind, while
a single negative experience can obliterate a composite image of high quality service.
Measuring Service Quality
Measuring service quality is difficult because the evaluation of service quality is not only based on the
outcome of a service, but this assessment is made during the process of service delivery. Angelova and
Zekiri (2011, p. 246) indicated thatmeasuring goods quality is easier because it can be measured
objectively with indicators like durability and number of defects, but service quality is an abstract item.
During the purchase of services, there are some tangible indicators which are usually limited to the
service provider’s facilities, equipment and personnel. If tangible evidence for evaluating quality is absent,
the customer has to base the assessment on other indicators. Overall, the abstract nature of service
quality creates difficulties for organisations in terms of defining variables, making measurements and also
in understanding how consumers ultimately perceive services and service quality. There are, however, a
numberofwell-establishedframeworksforanalysisofservicequalitysuchastheNordicModel
(Gronroos, 1984), and the SERVQUAL (Parasuraman et al., 1985), SERVPERF (Cronin and Taylor,
1992) and DINESERV (Stevens, Knutson and Patton, 1995) models as detailed below.

Gronroos/Nordic Model

According to Chaipoopirutana (2008), Gronroos (1984, 2007), the initiator of measuring service quality,
used a traditional customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction (CS/D) model to measure and explain service
quality. Based on the work of Gronroos (1984), there are two variables; expected service and perceived
service, both of which play an important role in measuring quality of service. Gronroos (1984) claimed
that the corporate image can be considered a quality dimension and the image is created by technical
and functional quality along with the effects of other factors such as traditional marketing activities
(advertising, pricing, PR), WOM, ideology and tradition (Angelova and Zekiri 2011).

The SERVQUAL Model

Also based on the work of Gronroos (1982, 1984), Parasuraman et al. (1985) developed a conceptual
framework called the gap model, to show causes of service quality shortfalls because they found that
service quality perceptions are the consequence of the comparison of consumer expectations to actual
service performance. Palmer (2011, p.328) suggested thatthe GAPS model is an analysis of the causes
of differences between what customers expect and what they get. There are ten dimensions of service
quality: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy, communication, credibility,
securityandunderstanding/knowingthecustomer.Howeverlaterontheauthorsreducedtheten
dimensions to five and outlined a scale named SERVQUAL to measure possible gaps (Parasuramanet
al., 1988), listed below:

Tangibles: aspects of physical facilities, equipment and personnel

Reliability: the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately

Responsiveness: willingness of the firm to help customers and to perform the service
promptly

Assurance: competence and politeness of the personnel, and the capability to inspire
confidence

Empathy: personalized assistance that the firm conveys to its customers

The SERVPERF model

Based upon various conceptual and operational grounds, many researchers have criticized the limited
effectiveness of the SERVQUAL model as a means of understanding customer satisfaction and loyalty.
CroninandTaylor(1992)developedanaccountofhowtheconceptualizationandapplicationof
SERVQUAL does not address the associations between service quality, customer satisfaction and
purchase intentions. They also discovered that the conceptual basis of the SERVQUAL scale does not
accurately define customer satisfaction in its totality and, as a result, suggested the SERVPERF scale.
Based on the studies of Cronin and Taylor (1992) on dry cleaning, banking, pest control, and fast food
industries, the researchers sought to prove the advantages of theirperformanceonly(SERVPERF)
model in practice (Chaipoopirutana, 2008). SERVPERF operationalises only the performance-related
criteria within the SERVQUAL model and effectively eliminates the measures relating to expectation
(Carrilat, Jaramillio and Mulki, 2007). In terms of the fast food restaurant industry, Jain and Gupta (2004)
confirmed that the SERVPERF scale is more successful than the SERVQUAL scale in explaining the
service quality concepts and the distinctions between service quality scores in relation to the model
dimensions. In this paper, the SERVPERF model will be applied to measure the service quality of fast
food restaurants in the UK.

The DINESERV Model

Based on the LODGSERV model, Stevens, Knutson and Patton (1995) built the DINESERV model to
evaluatetheexpectationsofcustomerofservicequalityinquickservice,casualandfinedining
restaurants. In the original DINESERV model, there were 40 statements about what should occur in a
restaurant and these were developed into 29 items that were measured on a seven-point scale ranging
fromstrongly agree(7) tostrongly disagree(1) (Hansen, 2014). As a result of the DINESERVE
framework being more directly concerned with restaurant service quality, there is a different emphasis in
the measurements in relation to the original SERVQUAL dimensions that better matches the nature of the
service encounter in this specific sector (Hanks, Line and Kim, 2017; Wu and Mohi, 2015). In particular,
DINESERV pays more attention to the tangible aspects of service quality such as visual attractiveness,
comfort, and cleanliness.Markovicet al.(2010) supported the DINESERV model as a reliable and
relatively simple tool to determinehow consumers view a restaurant’s qualityand operations and to assist
in finding out where the problems are and how to solve them and a significant body of research has
emerged confirming the validity of the approach (Hanks, Line and Kim, 2017; Kim, Ng and Kim, 2009;
Kuo, Chen and Cheng, 2016; Wu and Mohi, 2015). For the stated reasons above, the items from the
DINESERV model will be tested in this paper.

2.2Customer Satisfaction

The Concept of Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction deals with known circumstances and known variables. Providing customer delight
is a dynamic, forward-looking process. A satisfied and delighted customer is a potential loyal customer
and a positive word-of-mouth (WOM) (Oliveret al., 1997). On the other hand once customers have been
delighted, their expectation levels are raised (Andaleeb and Conway, 2006), which means that service
providers have to make an extra effort to satisfy these customers. Andaleeb and Conway (2006) indicated
that dissatisfied customers are behind the spreading of negative word-of-mouth. Potential customers are
easily impacted by negative word-of-mouth and they may draw potential customers away from the service
provider (Wilsonet al., 2012). With respect to the fast food industry, Khanet al. (2013) pointed out that all
thedeterminantsofcustomersatisfactionfellintooneofsevencategorieswhichwerephysical
environment, service quality, brand, promotion, customer expectations, price and taste of food. Their
results concluded that the main factors for customer satisfaction were service quality and brand.
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