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Front-line Employee versus Customer Perceptions of Quality Attributes

Summary: In order to improve the quality of service co-production, both academics and managers have pointed out the pivotal role of front-line employees (FLEs) in improving the service experience. Few studies, however, have simultaneously examined the quality perceptions of each group. Do FLEs perceive service quality in the same way as their customers? If this is the case, service quality itself will tend to improve. The authors carried out a comparative quantitative survey in a banking services context where financial advisors and customers were asked to answer the same set of questions about customer perceptions of service quality. FLEs were asked to answer the survey as if they were customers. The research results show significant perception mismatches between customers and FLEs. Financial advisors fail to accurately identify service quality attributes that are important for their customers. The authors' findings provide evidence that quality management processes should take into account perception-based quality gaps. The article also discusses the most important reasons and negative consequences of perception mismatches and proposes ways to overcome them.

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  • Topics: Customer Requirements
  • Keywords: Customer perception, Employee perception, Service quality, Customer service, Customer surveys, Customer expectation, Financial industry
  • Author: Julien, Anne; Tsoni, Christina
  • Journal: Quality Management Journal