Measuring digital service quality from customer perspective

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

Digital service quality is quite difficult to define because it has more diverse quality attributes resulting from wide variation and high customer involvement. Any applied measurement approach, the difference between customer expectations of what they want” and their perceptions of “what they get” will be considered.

The service quality from the customer’s perspective is one of the most significant developments in most of the industries. Moreover, it is a crucial element to the success of any digital service provider through the improvement of market share and profitability (Yang, 2002). Service quality appeals to the consumer’s general impression of the relative inferiority/ superiority of the organisation's services. Thus, it makes up the basis of a long-run evaluation.

Quality in a service business is a measure of the extent to which the delivered service meets the customer’s expectations. It is presumed that increasing profits and market share makes service quality a crucial indicator. Eventually, service quality has turned into a key strategic factor for companies to differentiate their products and services from other competitors through service quality as a customer’s evaluation process. While the quality of goods can be evaluated since it can be judged by assessing their style, colour and hardness, the quality of service are different due to its intangible and heterogeneous nature. The quality of service needs to be courted and measured since it involves much labour. For the same range of services, different customers will have a different opinion on it. This opinion is highly dependent on the labour of such service. Moreover, the customer’s input will also affect service performance (Yang, 2002).

Applying quality to service is easier than applying it to a tangible product. It can be stated that definition involves some criteria such as meeting or exceeding customer’s needs and meeting or exceeding customer expectations. Meeting or exceeding customer’s requirement is critical because the customer can determine the quality of service. As long as the customer’s requirements are satisfied, his or her evaluation of service quality can be positive. Meanwhile, meeting or exceed customer’s expectations are closely associated with customer requirements (Baharum, 2009).

SERVQUAL has become a popular method to represent service quality as the discrepancy between a customer’s expectations for a service offering and the customer’s perceptions of the received service (Yang, 2002). Currently, the set of dimensions is reduced to five key points:

  1. Digital service reliability: It means the technical ability to deliver the promised services dependably and accurately.

  2. Service responsiveness. It means the willingness to assist customers with providing prompt services whenever they get in touch with us.

  3. Service assurance: It means the knowledge and courtesy of employees are based on the principles of trust and confidence.

  4. Empathy: This represents the provision of caring appeals to individualised attention to customers.

  5. Tangibles: It means the appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication.

According to this measurement approach, respondents have to answer questions about both their expectations and their perceptions. The use of perceived data as opposed to received service turn the SERVQUAL measure into an attitude measure that is associated with satisfaction. While the difference between expectations and perceptions makes up the gap, it serves as the determinant of customers’ perception of service quality (Swaid, 2009).

Despite its growing popularity and widespread application, SERVQUAL features particular theoretical and operational limitations that cannot be ignored. Thus, SERVQUAL is based on a disconfirmation algorithm, which makes it impossible for it to appeal to the established economic, statistical and psychological theory. Also, this evaluation model focuses on the process of service delivery rather than the results of the service delivery due to not a universal nature of five dimensions. The number of dimensions comprising service quality is contextualized because services are not always loaded on to the expected factors. Moreover, SERVQUAL fails to measure absolute service quality expectations. Why is it the case? The reversed polarity of services results in a respondent error, and the over SERVQUAL score may be a disappointing proportion of item variances (O’Brien, 2013).

The scores representing service quality are “indirect” in the sense that the organization, not customers themselves, perform the comparison between expectations and perceptions. The concern in measuring expectations is the subject of further debates. At the same time, the measurement of performance perceptions offered by the SERVQUAL method has not undergone criticisms.



Baharum, Z. N. A. H. a. S. Z., 2009. Assessment of Park Island management service quality of purpose-built office buildings. International Business Research, 2(1), p. 162.

O'Brien, H. a. L. M., 2013. Mixed‐methods approach to measuring user experience in online news interactions.. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 2(1), pp. 1543-1556.

Swaid, S. a. W. R. 2., 2009. Measuring the quality of e-service: Scale development and initial validation. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 10(1), pp. 13-28.

Yang, Z. a. J. M., 2002. Consumer perception of e-service quality: from internet purchaser and non-purchaser perspectives.. Journal of Business strategies, 19(1), p. 19.

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