While most authors describe a service guarantee as a "zero-one variable" indicating the presence or absence of an explicit written service guarantee, this paper develops a construct called "Service Guarantee Strength" (SGS) that is a continuous variable. This construct measures the degree to which a firm sets clear service quality standards for itself on dimensions that customers care about, and has an formal policy for quickly giving meaningful compensation to customers when these standards are not met. The paper builds upon established micro-level behavioral theory to develop the "Service Guarantee Strength Framework". This framework posits that high Service Guarantee Strength leads to improved service quality, customer satisfaction, and loyalty through three intervening variables-marketing communications impact, employee motivation and vision, and learning through service failure. An empirical investigation was conducted to test the SGS Framework using both employee and customer data from three pairs of firms, with each pair in a different industry. None of these firms had an explicit service guarantee. Unlike many behavioral research studies, this study measured both employee and customer perceptual data and compared the two. The research finds that Service Guarantee Strength is positively related to customer perceptions of service quality, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation Transformations to Quality Organizations (Grant SBR-9811047), Radisson Hotels, the Juran Center for Leadership in Quality at the University of Minnesota, and the Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland. The authors also wish to thank the six firms that participated in the research.
- Empirical research
- Human resources/OM interface
- Service operations