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Defining quality is one of the most controversial topics in management. The fact is that quality, by any precision, is a difficult concept. Most of the management scholars understand quality products or services as those that can be deemed to be meeting the customer’s expectations (Reeves & Bednar 1994, p.120).
Though, this fundamental definition of quality is still being considered to be inadequate. According to Garvin 1987, this definition only considers one aspect which is user-based. However, there are also other scopes such as transcendent, product based and manufacturing based qualities that must be considered so as to have a complete definition of quality.
Scholars such as Garvin 1987, argue that in order to come up with a complete definition of product or service quality, certain dimensions must be put into consideration. These include performance, features, reliability, durability, serviceability, aesthetics and perception. These eight dimensions of Garvin will constitute what a quality product or service is to the end user.
In most cases, product or service quality will be understood from the customer’s point of view (Reeves & Bednar 1994, p.123). According to Garvin 1987, that would be when the end user is satisfied.
The reason why this definition dominates is that most corporations have understood the fact that providing customer’s value is the only way through which they can remain competitive. In other words, providing quality services or products that satisfies the customer’s needs offers the company an additional competitive advantage (Sachdev & Verma 2004, p.93).
Basically, increased competition, technological changes and the constant modifications in the regulatory environment have led to increased customer sophistication (Chakrapani, 1998). Customers are constantly demanding more in a particular product, emphasizing quality that normally satisfy their broader needs. This makes it intricate for companies to manage their expectations. The customers raised standards, expectations and perceptions of a product or service are constantly evolving (Foster, 2009).
This further complicates the effective management and measurement of the customer needs. In order to manage and measure the customer services effectively, firms have to selectively improve the services and critically pay attention to more customer oriented dimensions (Sachdev & Verma 2004, p.93). It is vital for the companies to acknowledge the product dimensions that their customers emphasize.
Investments that firms make must also provide impetus on those actions geared towards satisfying customer needs. This will increase their efficiency in their service delivery and remain competitive in a highly charged market place (Chakrapani, 1998). Moreover, firms need to prioritize and fully exploit their customer services attributes according to their specific contexts. In other words, each services quality has its own specific dimensions.
For instance, dimensions that are required in the hospitality servives are different from those that are required in the information services or in health. Another important consideration is that all the customer oriented quality dimensions are all equally important hence no proper order could be established in terms of their importance (Sachdev & Verma 2004, p.94).
Products such as mobile phones are very sensitive to the market demand and mobile phone firms take cognizance of the product quality dimensions in their marketing strategy. For instance, compare the newly released Samsung Galaxy S3 Smartphone and much anticipated Galaxy S4.
Samsung Galaxy Android Smartphone S4 is expected to be an improvement of S3 with more features such as 12-megapixel camera capable of taking 1080 videos accompanied with stereo sound. The phone will be based on multi-media together with high resolution display. The high resolution displays is an improvement of galaxy S3Pen Tile display that displeases most of the users.
Also expected in the Galaxy S4 is the longer lasting battery. Even though Galaxy S3 had 2100mAh which was claimed to be lasting longer, most of the customers complained of its quicker drain. Another feature which is also expected to meet the customer expectation in Galaxy S4 is the design.
Most of the S3 users complained of its contemptible plastic feel. S4 is expected to have a more cutting-edge design completed with enhanced material. Galaxy S4 is also expected to have S-Voice system, android beam as well as the Google Chrome default browser. The Smartphone will also be having the latest android operating system 4.1 Jelly Bean, 2GB RAM, the 3D water proofing flexible display. All these features were expected in S3 but somehow they failed to show.
Looking at the Samsung Galaxy Smartphone example it is clear that the company take into consideration various dimensions such as performance, features, reliability, conformance, aesthetic and perception when developing the latest product.
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Even though the Galaxy S3 was an improvement of the other Galaxy series, it fell short of the customer expectations. This made the company face stiff competition from other mobile phone companies such as Apple. Apple is also expected to release iPhone 5 which will be a substitute to Samsung Galaxy S4.
The performance dimension is what the product or service is expected to do. In most cases, companies emphasize on the performance because it directly influences profitability and the customer reputation (Foster, 2009). The features dimension defines and specifies the purpose of particular features in the intended product.
In other words, it identifies whether the product or service have all the specified features for its intended purpose (Garvin, 1987). The reliability aspect looks at the way that particular product or service is performing according to stipulated conditions. The reliability dimension contributes hugely to the company brand image. It is one of the fundamental dimensions that the end users normally look into (Foster, 2009).
Conformance dimension looks at whether the product matches the specification or whether the products are performing as specified. Conformance dimension depends on the product development. That is, whether the product is developed on design or performance specifications.
The aesthetic dimension is how the product appears to the customers (Garvin, 1987). Aesthetic dimension of a product or service is where the company derives the brand identity. Defects or faults in the products normally reduce the aesthetic dimension. The perception is how the product is conceived by the end-user.
For instance, Galaxy S3 is still perceived as a high definition Smartphone even though it posses some shortfalls in its features. Other dimensions such as serviceability and durability must also be put into consideration when developing a product (Garvin, 1987).
The service or product quality is defined as those that meet the customer satisfaction. Even though there are other aspects of quality product or service, the end-user definition is essential because it increases the company competitive edge.
Besides, other dimensions performance, features, reliability, durability, serviceability, aesthetics and perception that form part of product quality are also being looked into by the firms. However, quality dimensions are all equally important hence no proper order could be established in terms of their importance.
Chakrapani, C 1998, How to measure service quality and customer satisfaction, American marketing association, Chicago, IL.
Foster, ST 2009, Managing quality: integrating the supply chain, Pearson-Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Garvin, DA 1987, “Competing on eight dimensions of quality” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 65, pp. 101-109.
Reeves, C & Bednar, D 1994, “Defining quality: alternatives and implications”, Academy of Management Review, vol. 19, pp. 419-445.
Sachdev, SB & Verma, HV 2004. “Relative importance of service quality dimensions: a multi-sectoral study”, Journal of Service Research, vol. 4 no. 1, pp. 93-113.