How is postal service quality measured using the SERVQUAL model? Does it matter?

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MVR Prasad, Senthil Kumar J.P., Ravi Aluvala


Background: Indian post office has been bridging people together for more than 160 years. One of the Central Government Departments in India is the India Post or the Department of Posts. Even though it receives backing from the government, the Post Office now needs to compete in the "Darwinian Market Place" to succeed and profit from the market. Both inside and external to the Organization are obstacles. It must operate within the constrained range of heavily subsidized tariffs while demonstrating improved financial performance to remain an organization.

Objectives: The study's main aim is to identify the principal factors of service quality in Indian departmental postal offices and measure the postal services using the SERVQUAL model.

Methods: The SERVQUAL (Three-Column Format) of Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (popularly known as PZB) was found relevant to measure the service quality in Indian Post Offices. It consists of 22 questions in terms of statements related to five (5) dimensions, namely, Tangibles, Responsiveness, Reliability, Empathy, and Assurance, as detailed in the questionnaire. To ascertain responses questionnaire method was chosen. Accordingly, the questionnaire with minor modifications was administered to a few experts to check the content validity as part of the pilot study and improved questionnaire thereafter. As the study was intended to cover extensively, given the presence of India Post throughout India, the questionnaire was sent by post to a sample area spread across India. Responses received were edited to reconcile inconsistencies per the standard data processing guidelines, and analysis was done for the final responses numbering 1665 using SPSS 16.0.

Results: The component extracted can be named as Service Environment which is about the physical quality and the second component as Overall Service Experience. This included the quality of relationship across the counter service interactions (interaction quality) and the ultimate service delivery experience once the transaction is completed. The service provider needs to assess the individual processes to know the gaps and to evolve areas of improvement of ‘tactical’ and ‘strategic’ importance.  Since all 22 items are statistically significant, all these items need to be taken into consideration at the time of service provision. Ways of Measuring Post Office Service Quality and application of SERVQUAL model of Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (PZB) to measure the Service Quality. Implications of Gap Model of PZB when applied to Indian Post Office and discussing how Gap 5, and also, of Gap 1; the difference of expectations between the service provider and the customers could be interpreted vis-à-vis Post Office.The generic nature of SERVQUAL and the dimensionality of service quality of post office.

Analyzing Zone of Tolerance of Indian Post Office at question-level and dimension-level.

Conclusions: Measuring Service Quality in Indian Post Offices is not an easy task considering the numerous products and services the department is handling and also the geographical spread and demographical diversity. The task is far more difficult given the inflexibility of legacy systems and the systemic reactions due to the fact that the system is managed by government machinery. However, there is an urgent need to relook at its service design and to bring in changes that bring quality.

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