In business administration, service quality (also service quality) is the degree of quality of a service. The counterpart is product quality. In business administration, services can be distinguished from products in particular by intangibility and customer participation. Intangibility means that a service, unlike a product, is not physically present, while customer involvement means that the service is not possible without the involvement of the requesting customer or their material goods. In business administration, the customer and/or his material goods are referred to as an external production factor.
The literature defines service quality as “the ability of a provider to create the quality of a primarily intangible service requiring customer participation based on customer expectations at a certain level of requirements”. Thus, customer expectations and the actual service provided are opposed. The quality of service can refer to the service potential, the service process or the service result. For example, potential quality can be understood as the qualification of employees, process quality can be understood as the speed of service provision and result quality, for example, as the extent to which the performance has corresponded to customer satisfaction.
For different types of services, the concept of quality can be adapted, e.g. if the quality of electronic services is to be measured.
The quality of service is made up of several factors. In the service sector, the work attitude and work motivation of employees or service staff plays a decisive role in the provision of services. On the other hand, companies can, for example, align a certain contingent of their organization with the service in the process and organizational structure. These include quality control as part of preventive control and complaints management as part of detective control, e.g. complaints departments or hotlines. Furthermore, companies can also continue the service concept by designing their terms and conditions; e.g. goodwill arrangements and broad exchange conditions. The actual purpose of service quality is competitiveness, including the goal of customer satisfaction (maintaining a customer base).
While product quality ensures a consistent, even identical, quality of products with high automation and mechanization, service quality is usually not constant. This is mainly due to the fact that the personnel intensity in services is much higher than in production management. The reason for this lies in the inter-individual and intra-individual fluctuations in the performance potential of the service providers.