The Evaluation of Service Quality by Socially Responsible Customers

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Virginia Tech

The socially responsible customer segment is growing. Increasingly, customers are concerned about social, political, and environmental issues. These concerns have been shown to affect their attitudes towards the quality of goods and services as well as their buying behaviors. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of empirical research in the service literature on socially responsible customers.

This study investigates the role that social responsibility plays in measuring service quality. Both qualitative and quantitative techniques were used in this study. Focus group and in-depth interviews were conducted to develop a scale measuring the social responsibility dimension in the evaluation of service quality. Confirmatory factor analysis and a multiple regression method were then utilized to test four hypotheses postulated in the study.

The social responsibility scale consisted of eight items and was shown to be highly reliable. This scale along with the 22 items from the perception part of SERVQUAL formed the Socially Responsible Customer (SRC) SERVQUAL instrument used in this study. A total of 803 respondents completed the survey. The results of confirmatory factor analysis showed that social responsibility was a salient dimension of service quality and highly socially responsible customers used the concept of social responsibility more pronouncedly than the others when evaluating service quality. The social responsibility dimension alone significantly explained the variance in service quality. However, after accounting for the existing five SERVQUAL dimensions, the social responsibility dimension does not add a significant increment to the variance explained by the service quality regression model.

Service Quality, Social Responsibility, Socially Responsible Customers, Evaluation of Service Quality, Dimensions of Service Quality