Service quality and customer satisfaction are very important concepts that companies must understand in order to remain competitive in business and hence grow. It is very important for companies to know how to measure these constructs from the consumers’ perspective in order to better understand their needs and hence satisfy them. Service quality is considered very important because it leads to higher customer satisfaction, profitability, reduced cost, customer loyalty and retention.
Purpose – The main purpose of this study theoretically is finding out how applicable the SERVQUAL model is in the context of grocery stores and empirically, describe how consumers (students) perceive service quality and whether they are satisfied with services offered by these stores in Umea.
Design/methodology/approach – A self-completion questionnaire was developed from the SERVQUAL instrument and distributed using a convenience sampling technique to students in the Umea University campus to determine their perceptions of service quality in grocery stores.
Findings – From the analysis carried out, it was found out that, the SERVQUAL model was not a good instrument to measure service quality because some of the items under the dimensions overlapped and regrouped under different dimensions from the factor analysis carried out. It also showed some items associated to more than one component.
Some dimensions showed a reliability scale of less than 0.7 which could have been as result of the wordings used in the questionnaires or the number of items used under each dimension. Also, it was found that the overall service quality perceived by consumers was not satisfactory meaning expectations exceeded perceptions and all the dimensions showed higher expectations than perceptions of services.
Research implications – Theoretically, from the findings, it implies that the SERVQUAL model is not the best tool to use measure service quality in grocery stores because the dimensions do not best measure the construct in that context. Practical implications suggest that grocery stores in Umea are not providing the level of service quality demanded by customers. The findings suggest that grocery stores need to improve all the dimensions of service quality from the gap analysis carried out.
Originality/value – This study contributes to the already existing studies examining service quality in grocery stores using the SERVQUAL model and also provides empirical results that could guide management dealing with retail activities to take corrective actions that lead to growth in the company.