Internal service quality and its impact on external service quality:a study of the role of internal customer types and the dimensions which are used to assess internal suppliers within an organisation and how this affects external service quality

Brooks, R.F. (1995). Internal service quality and its impact on external service quality:a study of the role of internal customer types and the dimensions which are used to assess internal suppliers within an organisation and how this affects external service quality. PHD thesis, Aston University.

Abstract

This research explores the role of internal customers in the delivery of external service quality. It will consider any potentially different internal customer types that may exist within the organisation. Additionally, it will explore any potential differences in the dimensions that are used to measure service quality internally and externally. If there are different internal customer types then there may be different dimensions which are used to measure service quality between these types and this will be considered also. The approach adopted given the depth and breadth of understanding required, was an action research case based approach. The research objectives were:(i) To determine the dimensions of internal service quality between internal customer supplier cells. (ii) To determine what variation, if any, there is in the dimension sets between internal customer supplier cells. (iii) To determine any ranking in the dimensions that could exist by internal customer supplier cell type. (iv) To investigate the impact of internal service quality on external service quality over time. The research findings were: (i) The majority of the dimensions used in measuring external service quality were also used internally. There were additions of new dimensions however and some dimensions which were used externally, for internal use, had to be redefined. (ii) Variation in dimension sets were revealed during the research. Four different dimension sets were identified and these were matched with four different types of internal service interaction. (iii) Differences in the ranking of dimensions within each dimension set for each internal customer supplier cell type were confirmed. (iv) Internal service quality was seen to influence external service quality but at a cellular level rather than company level. At the company level, the average internal service quality at the start and finish of the research showed no improvement but external service quality had improved. Further investigation at the cellular level showed that improvements in internal service quality had occurred. Those improvements were found to be with the cells that were closest to the customer.The research implications were found to be: (i) some cells may not be necessary in the delivery of external service quality. (ii) The immediacy of the cell to the external customer and number of interactions into and out of that cell has the greatest effect on external customer satisfaction. (iii) Internal service quality may be driven by the customer affecting those cells at the front end of the business first. This then cascades back to those cells which are less immediate until ultimately the whole organisation shows improvements in internal service quality.

Divisions: Aston Business School
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: internal marketing,service quality,internal customers,relationship management,action research
Completed Date: 1995-03

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