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Service Quality Gap: Oman Insurance Company Proposal

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Updated: Apr 20th, 2019

Executive Summary

The assessment of the quality of service delivery in an organisation is important as it allows consumers to make informed decisions. It also helps the organisation to respond appropriately to improve its services.

In the past, service quality has been defined as “the extent to which a service meets customers’ needs or expectations” (Asubonteng et al., 65). A common definition is, “Service quality is the difference between customers’ expectations of service and perceived service” (Fitzsimmons and Mona 25).

In order for this to be achieved, an analysis of the organisation using the SERVQUAL methodology is necessary. SERVQUAL methodology evaluates five dimensions of quality service delivery. They include reliability, assurance, empathy, tangibles, and responsiveness (Fitzsimmons and Mona 26).

A gap analysis in service delivery is also important as it allows the identification of “causes of service quality shortfalls in each or all of the dimensions” (Fitzsimmons and Mona 28). A service quality gap analysis for Oman Insurance Company was carried out with the aim of establishing the quality of services offered by the company.

An analysis of the five gaps identified followed with calculation of the weighted and un-weighted values of SERVIQUAL scores for each using the recommended formulae (Fitzsimmons and Mona 26).

The data used in the calculations was obtained from the analysis of the responses from questionnaires issued to both the customers of the insurance company as well as the employees.

The results showed a small but significant gap in service delivery for which recommendations were made on how to reduce it. This essay therefore discusses the procedure of analysing the gaps in service delivery in the company, the results of the analysis, and the recommendations towards improving quality service delivery at Oman Insurance Company.

Service Quality Gaps

The service quality concept constitutes about seven major gaps with three (Gap 1, Gap 5, and Gap 6) being important “since they have a direct relationship with customers” (Luk and Layton 113). Gap 1, which deals with customers’ expectations against management perception (Luk and Layton 114), was partially evaluated in the study.

Gap 2 deals with management perceptions versus service specifications while Gap 3 comprises service specifications against the delivery of those services (Luk and Layton 115). The fourth gap is the difference in service delivery and external communication (Luk and Layton 114).

Gap 5 highlights the difference between the perception of the customers of the services delivered against their expectations of the services (Luk and Layton 114). This gap formed the main approach in the survey.

Gap 6 focuses on the discrepancy between the expectations of the customers and the perceptions of the employees while Gap 7 highlights the discrepancy between the management and employees’ perceptions (Luk and Layton 114). These were evaluated using the questionnaire issued to the respondents for the study.

Methodology

The analysis of the service delivery quality was made using data obtained using a questionnaire. The questionnaire prepared constituted two parts, which evaluated customers’ expectations and opinions about insurance companies against their perceptions of service delivery at Oman Insurance Company.

Confidentiality was guaranteed in the questionnaire by ensuring that there was no place for the respondents to fill in their personal details. Thus, their answers were anonymous. A score of 1 to 7 was assigned to the responses with 1 representing those who strongly disagreed with the quality and 7 representing those who strongly agreed with it.

The five dimensions of SERVQUAL methodology, which evaluated the quality of service delivery, were assessed. These included reliability, assurance, empathy, tangibles, and responsiveness. The questionnaire was pretested before the start of the analysis that involved the use of 20 individuals with knowledge of the insurance company.

The recommendations from the pre-test were then incorporated into the questionnaire with printing of the final drafts being made for issuing to the respondents.

The questionnaire was issued to clients who received services from the major branches of the Insurance Company. Selection was randomly made. This means that the sample of people selected was representative of the actual number of people receiving services from the insurance company.

The number of respondents was 200 clients. The survey was carried out over a period of five days. The results were then analysed with presentations being made from them.

Appropriate conclusions were also made. The making of recommendations on how to improve service delivery at the firm followed. The recommendations were mainly addressed to the management of the company.

Results

Out of the 200 questionnaires prepared, three were not answered. The respondents did not fill two of them appropriately. As for the demographics, 146 respondents were male while the rest (54 respondents) were of the opposite sex.

The ages of the respondents were varied with the most common age being above 40 years, which constituted 59% of the respondents. Most of the respondents also had a level of education above college level with most being undergraduates. The results of the five dimensions of SERVQUAL methodology are as follows:

Tangibles

The assessment of this factor of the company involved the assessment of customers’ perception of equipment, personnel appearance, and physical facilities in the company. The customers strongly agreed with the idea that an excellent insurance company should have modern looking equipment.

The average score was higher than the perception of the same in Oman Insurance Company. They agreed, though not strongly, that Oman Insurance Company had modern looking equipment though this was below their expectations.

As for the physical facilities, the customers also strongly agreed that these should be visually appealing, but their perceptions of the same at Oman Insurance Company fell below their expectations. The appearance of employees in Oman Insurance Company was as per the customer expectations.

They therefore agreed strongly that they were neat. The average scores were, however, negative for the above factors. For an excellent insurance company, the customers agreed strongly that their materials such as pamphlets or statements should be visually appealing.

Their perception of this in the Oman Insurance company fell below their expectation. Thus, the average score was negative for the company. In general, the average score for the tangibles in the Oman Insurance Company was negative. The score was at -1.40. This represented the best score of all the five factors assessed on service delivery in the company.

Reliability

On reliability, the questionnaire assessed the ability of the company to perform the promised service dependably and accurately (Wisniewski, and Donnelly 359). In the first question on reliability in the questionnaire, the expectations of the customers on an excellent insurance company was high, as they strongly agreed that it should fulfil promises by the scheduled time.

A number of respondents held the same sentiment about Oman Insurance Company with most of them strongly agreeing that the company fulfilled most of its promises to them on time. However, the average score was lower compared to their expectations.

The quality of problem solving for an excellent insurance company also featured on reliability with most of the respondents claiming and agreeing strongly that such a company should show strong interest in solving its problems.

Against this expectation, the Oman Insurance Company scored lower in the degree to which this characteristic was true for the company. The company was scored as being good at listening and solving problems in the services it offered though this was inadequate time for most of the respondents.

The performance of services for the first time by the company was also below the expectations of the customers, and so was record keeping in the company.

The overall expectations of the customers on reliability received a strong agreement with a score of 6.06 with the company scoring 4.26 on perceptions on the same by their clients. This means that a gap of -1.70 existed in the company in the area of responsibility. This was the largest of all the areas.

Responsiveness

The assessment of responsibility was done by using questions, which focused on the “willingness to help customers and or provide prompt service” (Dick 28). In the first one, customers strongly agreed that adequate information should be given to them in the case of an excellent insurance company regarding when the services would be performed.

This was against a poor perception of the same in the Oman Insurance Company, which though above average, customers perceived that the services were not as good as their expectations of an excellent insurance company.

The employees were also a little less willing to help them as compared to their expectations of an ideal insurance company. This situation elicited a negative score.

The employees of the company also received a lower rating in their ability to attend to their clients compared to an ideal insurance company. Employees of an excellent insurance company were expected never to be too busy to respond to customers’ requests.

The respondents agreed strongly to this opinion. Oman Insurance Company, on the other hand, received lower scores in this aspect of service delivery making the overall score negative. The responsiveness gap score for the company was at -1.69.

Assurance

The perception of assurance for the Oman Insurance company was weighed against the expectations for an excellent company in the same field. This involved evaluation of “Knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to inspire trust and confidence” (Valarie, Parasuraman, and Leonard 39).

It included factors such as competence, credibility, security, and courtesy (Dick 28). In the evaluation of employee behaviour, customers strongly agreed that, for an excellent insurance company, this should instil confidence in customers. In comparison to this case, the company received lower scores on the same with a negative score being obtained.

The customers also strongly agreed that employees of an excellent insurance company should be consistently courteous with customers. They felt that this was slightly poor in the Oman Insurance Company with a negative score being obtained.

The knowledge of employees in the insurance company was assessed in this section of the questionnaire with customers being asked if it was adequate to answer their questions. They strongly agreed that, for an excellent insurance company, employees should have knowledge to answer their questions.

Their perception of this in the Oman Insurance Company was lower thus earning it a negative gap score. The overall gap score in this category was -1.55.

Empathy

Empathy is the last dimension assessed in the SERVEQUAL instrument. It involves assessing the “Care and individualised attention that the firm provides to its customers” (Wisniewski and Donnelly 363). Constituents include communication, accessibility, and understanding of the customer (Wisniewski, and Donnelly 363).

Oman Insurance company customers strongly agreed that the organisation offers them individualised attention. However, this perception of customers was not as good as what they expected from an excellent insurance company.

They strongly agreed that an excellent company should offer individualised attention to the clients’ needs. The resulting gap score was negative for the company.

The operating hours for an excellent insurance company should be convenient to all customers. They strongly agreed with this opinion. The company also received a negative score in this suggestion since most of the customers perceived the company as not offering convenient hours compared to an ideal company.

The employees were also described as giving special attention to each customer. Again, this was below their expectations of an ideal company. Upon evaluation, they had customers’ interest at heart since the score was the same both for the Oman Insurance Company and for an excellent insurance company.

Customers responded that employees of Oman Insurance Company understood their specific needs though their score was below that of an excellent insurance company with the overall score being negative. This dimension of the SERVEQUAL instrument received a negative score, which was at -1.52.

Discussion

The results of the survey found an existing gap in service delivery at Oman Insurance Company. The Gap scores were -1.40 for tangibles, -1.70 for reliability, -1.69 for responsiveness, -1.55 for Assurance, and -1.52 for Empathy.

The un-weighted and weighted averages for all the dimensions were later calculated and presented in the table below.

Dimension Expectations Perceptions Gap scores Weightings Weighted
average
Tangibles 5.66 4.26 -1.40 19.8 -0.28
Reliability 6.06 4.36 -1.70 29.6 -0.5
Responsiveness 5.74 4.05 -1.69 19.9 -0.34
Assurance 6.13 4.58 -1.55 15.2 -0.24
Empathy 5.97 4.45 -1.52 15.7 -0.24

From the table, the average of the Weighted SERVQUAL score was -1.6

Conclusion

Therefore, based on the above expositions, it suffices to declare the evaluation of service delivery in a company a crucial exercise that comes in handy to direct any changes that should be instituted in the company. The paper has used Oman Insurance Company as a case example to demonstrate the role of assessment of the quality of service delivery in the company.

In the analysis of service delivery for Oman Insurance Company, various aspects of the company were compared against an ideal insurance company. A questionnaire was the tool of choice for this task with respondents being the clients of the company.

The results highlighted an existent service delivery gap in the company. The company should use the results of this survey to alter its services in a bid to ensure that the gap is closed and the services delivered are up to the expectations of the customers. This outcome will go a long way in improving the performance of the company.

Works Cited

Asubonteng, Patrick, Karl McCleary, and John Swan. “SERVQUAL revisited: a critical review of service quality.”Journal of Services Marketing 10. 6(2000): 62-81. Print.

Dick, Schaaf. Keeping the Edge: Giving Customers the Service they demand. New York: Plume Penguin, 2006. Print.

Fitzsimmons, James, and Mona Fitzsimmons. Service management: operations, strategy, and information technology. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Print.

Luk, Sherriff, and Roger Layton. “Perception Gaps in customer expectations: Managers versus service providers and customers.” The Service Industries Journal 22.2(2002): 109-128. Print.

Valarie, Zeithaml, Autor Parasuraman, and Berry Leonard. Delivering Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations. New York: Free Press, 2004. Print.

Wisniewski, Michael, and Moris Donnelly. “Measuring service quality in the public sector: the potential for SERVQUAL.” Total Quality Management 7.4(2000): 357-365. Print.

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