The effect of service quality provided by the University library on student satisfaction.
The purpose of this research is to assess how student satisfaction with the University of Buckingham’s library is affected by the dimensions of service quality. This is done using the SERVQUAL model that was proposed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry in 1988. The dimensions are Tangibles, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance and Empathy, the reason this model was chosen is its breadth and appositeness. Correlations between the dimensions of service quality are examined.
Data collection was in the form of a structured questionnaire with a sample size of 83 students. Previously validated questions were used when structuring the questionnaire. It comprises of two sections the first being demographics and the second 26 Likert scale questions related to each factor of the SERVQUAL model. A Cronbach’s ? analysis was conducted to confirm the reliability of the obtained results and to test the reliability of the questions. This resulted in the removal of one question from the Student satisfaction dimension due to its low ? reliability value. Strong correlations between reliability and empathy, assurance and empathy and responsiveness and assurance were observed. As a result of impact analysis it was concluded that each dimension of service quality supported the hypotheses, with reliability (28%) and empathy (29%) having the strongest impacts on student satisfaction. Reliability of the survey may be questioned as it was limited to the student body of a single university, limiting the sample population. Cross sector applicability could be achieved with a greater sample size. One aspect of the service quality that could be improved based on the results obtained is reliability.
The total population of students currently enrolled at the University of Buckingham is 2520, this includes 1210 undergraduate and 1190 postgraduate students. There are 2 on campus libraries. It is widely accepted as a golden rule that the larger the sample size the better it is in relation to choosing a sample size as this affects the validity, however due to time and budget constraints it was deemed impractical to survey all of the students, using a survey size sample calculator it was ascertained that a population size of 83 is sufficient to yield a reflective view of the overall population, Convenient sampling was chosen due to its non-probabilistic nature. Using a margin of error and interval confidence calculator it was calculated that the confidence level is 95% and margin of error is 10%. Previously validated questions will be used in the survey.
The primary focus of this research is to measure student satisfaction with the service quality provided by the library at the University of Buckingham. The results of the data obtained through the questionnaire are reflective of the dimensions of service quality and discusses what the library is doing well and offers suggestions on improvements that could be made.
After reading literature currently published in related topics a knowledge gap was observed and the core objective of this research paper is to address this. The added value of open shelves with books when compared to their electronic format counterpart. This paper provides a number of factors that a library could use as an evaluation method to ascertain the library service quality as represented by student satisfaction. This paper is organised as follows. Section 2 describes the literature review. The proposed model is discussed in Section 3. The conclusion and future work are presented in Section 4. A core function of universities are libraries, deeply rooted with teaching, learning, research, and student support. Customer satisfaction is achieved as a result of receiving a high level of service quality by a service. This can be defined as the core objective of a service. The quality of services is difficult to measure due to their intangible nature as opposed to the ease of which a tangible products quality can be defined and measured. Services are defined as being the “economic activities performed by one party to another. Often time-based, these performances bring about desired results to recipients, objects, or other assets” (Wirtz and Lovelock, 2016, 21). In a service context, economic activities constitute the exchange of value between the service provider and the customer (Wirtz and Lovelock, 2016). Universities provide a range of services including, accommodation, lectures and leisure activities. Even though Research has been conducted regarding the resources of a University’s library, little has been done to measure the impact of student satisfaction on the service quality of the services provided by the library.
Through conducting a survey at the University of Buckingham, students were given a platform to highlight certain aspects of the Library service that they like and dislike. The results of this survey would provide the library with a better understanding of where investments in resources may be required to improve service quality, thus maximising student satisfaction and in turn library resource utilisation.
Service quality is defined as “the discrepancy between customers’ expectations and perceptions” (Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry, 1990, 20). Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry (1988) point out the significance of the effect service quality has on customer satisfaction and loyalty. In an academic environment students may turn to off campus alternatives within the proximity of their University, or may opt to choose the nomadic option of location independent access to library resources if they are faced with poor service quality. Over the years a plethora of methods have been proposed to measure service quality, Parasuraman back in 1985 proposed the oldest of these models. Models used for market research include the Nordic model, Multi-level model, Hierarchical model and the SERVQUAL model (Ghotbabadi and Baharun, 2015). In 1984 Gronroos attempted to measure service quality, based on what the customer receives and how the customer receives it, however measuring this activity was not present in the Nordic model, meaning that it could not be applied directly when assessing a service. In 1996 Dabholkar, Thorpe and Rentz in 1996 developed the multi-level model consisting of the overall perception of service quality, both primary dimensions and sub-dimensions. This model could be seen as an extension of the Nordic model with the provision of measurable dimensions, however its intended purpose is in the retail industry, not clearly defining sub-dimensions. Brady and Cronin proposed the Hierarchical model in 2001, which is based on customers’ perceptions of service quality. Appraisals are made using three dimensions: interaction quality, quality of the physical environment and outcome quality. Like the Multilevel model, the Hierarchical model also uses sub-dimensions.
Parasuraman et al in 1985 proposed the service quality gap model comprising of 10 dimensions, in 1988 using quantitative research Parasuraman et al formulated SERVQUAL in which the 10 dimensions of the Gap model of service quality were compressed into 5. The association between the customers’ and the service providers’ perspectives of a service are recognised. Only by closing the 4 gaps can Gap 5, the perceived service gap be closed. Knowledge Gap can be defined as not knowing what customers’ expect. Standards Gap is not selecting the right service standards, Delivery gap is defined as not delivering to service standards. Communication gap is not matching performance to promises. (Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry, 1990). SERVQUAL being a compressed version of the Gap model of service quality in nature makes it the most appropriate unit of measure for this study. Making the assessment of correlation between the factors and impact of the factors more manageable as there are only 5.
The reason for choosing the SERVQUAL model is the clarity it provides as well as its versatility across industries. A criticism of this model is that it only measures the process delivery. In order to decipher the outcome a separate factor student satisfaction is used in addition to the others. Partly due to this model’s versatility is that it can be adapted to its application based on the industry that its being employed in, the core 5 factors are sufficient and the addition of student satisfaction permanently would affect its breadth and appositeness industry wide. If you look at a University’s library then the tangibility factor would encompass all the physical evidence cues and whether they reflect to the services offered. The reliability of a library service is determined in whether or not they deliver an expected service in a punctual manner and that they have an adequate service recovery process. A responsive service as provided by a University’s library is one that would be able to deal with students and faculty members requests swiftly. A university could provide assurance to its library users by the level of investment in resources and the quality of staff employed, relayed to students as a high standard of service quality, helpfulness of staff, politeness and trustworthiness.
Finally, an SU with
high empathy results would understand the needs of students. One way this could be done is
by having operating hours that are convenient to students.
Conclusion and future work