A Multiple-Item Scale for Assessing Electronic Service Quality
University of Miami
Valarie A. Zeithaml Arvind Malhotra
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Using the means-end framework as a theoretical foundation, this article conceptualizes, constructs, refines, and tests a multiple-item scale (E-S-QUAL) for measuring the service quality delivered by Websites on which customers shop online. Two stages of empirical data collection revealed that two different scales were necessary for capturing electronic service quality. The basic E-S-QUAL scale developed in the research is a 22-item scale of four dimensions: efficiency, fulfillment, system availability, and privacy. The second scale, E-RecS-QUAL, is salient only to customers who had nonroutineencounters with the sites and contains 11 items in three dimensions: responsiveness, compensation, and contact. Both scales demonstrate good psychometric properties based on findings from a variety of reliability and validity tests and build on the research already conducted on the topic. Directions for further research on electronic service quality are offered. Managerial implications stemmingfrom the empirical findings about E-S-QUAL are also discussed. Keywords: e-service quality; online stores; customer service; scale development
Although no longer believed to be the revolution previously conceived, the Internet remains a critical channel for selling most goods and services. Companies such as Amazon distribute products and services solely through Web channels, and virtually allcompanies are creating Web channels as sources for prepurchase information (cars), alternative ways to buy products (retailers such as GAP, Talbot’s, and Eddie Bauer), approaches to expand services (industrial products), and ways to capture time-conscious and upscale consumers (online banking). If these channels are to be viable, they must be perceived by consumers as effective and efficient. Eventhough low price and Web presence were initially thought to be the drivers of success, service quality issues soon became pivotal. When consumers could not complete transactions, products were not delivered on time or at all, e-mails were not answered, and desired information could not be accessed, the viability of Web channels was jeopardized. Mounting business and academic evidence demonstrated awidespread lack of adequate service quality delivered through the Internet (Ahmad 2002; Lennon and Harris 2002; LoCascio 2000; Pastore 2001). This problem still persists (Cox 2002; Gaudin 2003; InternetNewsBureau 2003). If Web channels are to be
The authors gratefully acknowledge research grants from the Marketing Science Institute and DellStar, without which this research could not have beenconducted. They also thank three anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments.
Journal of Service Research, Volume 7, No. X, Month 2005 1-21 DOI: 10.1177/1094670504271156 © 2005 Sage Publications
JOURNAL OF SERVICE RESEARCH / February 2005
accepted by consumers, companies must shift the focus of e-business from e-commerce—the transactions—to eservice—all cues andencounters that occur before, during, and after the transactions. To deliver superior service quality, managers of companies with Web presences must first understand how consumers perceive and evaluate online customer service. Although there are many different types of Internet sites, the research described in this article focuses only on online shopping sites. The article does not deal with otherInternet sites—such as online newspapers, portals, free download sites, customer-to-customer sites such as eBay or Topica, sites that are collections of links, or job sites such as Monster.com—that exist for purposes other than online shopping and that are advertiser supported. The purpose of this article is to describe the development, refinement, psychometric evaluation, properties, and potential...
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