Quality systems and and service delivery in the UK leisure industry

Williams, Christine (1997) Quality systems and and service delivery in the UK leisure industry. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Quality management systems have recently been implemented in all sectors of the UK leisure industry. The author has attempted to discover whether or not their introduction has improved service delivery to external customers.
The research project was developed so that the SERVQUAL instrument, devised by Zeithami, Parasuraman and Berry (1990), could be applied to a diverse range of leisure facilities; art gallery, museum, amusement park, leisure centre, golf course and theatre. Diversity was also achieved by the operational environments of the facility providers; public (local and central government), commercial and voluntary.
A quantitative and qualitative research approach was implemented. In the first phase, the model generated numerical data, to analyse five gaps that cause service quality problems. The perspectives of the managers and operational staff as well as the customers were investigated.
The model is based on a number of concepts, that are not without their critics. The first, is that customers are satisfied when their expectations of a service equal their perceptions of the service actually delivered. This has been questioned by Carman (1990). Secondly, the notion that "excellence" is the benchmark that customers should judge organisations by and for organisations to try to emulate. The author questions whether or not this is valid when the non-profit sectors of an industry are measured.
The the author concludes that the SERVQUAL model would be valid if industry, sector and facility specific instruments could be developed.
The second aspect of the thesis was to investigate service quality improvement. There is little evidence to suggest that any of the organisations researched totally embrace the philosophy of a quality leisure experience for their customers. At present simplistic, very mechanistic quality approaches have been initiated.
The organisations' know what their customers needs are but are deflected from these to cope reactivly with external factors especially statutory regulations. The introduction of quality processes into operational procedures were carried out when
looking for solutions for regulation compliance; improvements to service quality comes about as a by-product.

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