Assessing the Quality of a Decision Support E-Service

Assessing the Quality of a Decision Support E-Service

Mark Springer (Department of Decision Sciences, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, USA), Craig Tyran (Department of Decision Sciences, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, USA) and Steve Ross (Department of Decision Sciences, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/jebr.2013040105


Electronic service quality, or e-service quality, is the quality experienced by the user of a service delivered over the Web. Over the past several years, researchers have developed many models of e-service quality with the goal of identifying those factors that are most important for customer loyalty. Most of these models focus primarily or exclusively on retail e-commerce Web sites which support the delivery of a physical product to the consumer. Recently, however, “pure” e-service Web sites, namely those that do not involve the sale and delivery of a physical good, have received increasing attention from researchers. This article proposes and validates a quality assessment instrument for a type of pure e-service that has not yet been studied: a Web-based decision support system. Based on a study involving over six hundred subjects, we identify those quality dimensions that affect customer loyalty for a pure e-service of this type.
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Assessing the quality of traditional services has been an active research area for over twenty years (Parasuraman & Zeithaml, 2002). The introduction of the SERVQUAL survey instrument in 1988 was a key development in service quality assessment, as the instrument has served as a focal point for service quality research and has stimulated the development of alternative instruments (Parasuraman et al., 1988). More recently, researchers have turned their focus to measuring the quality of Internet-mediated services, or “e-services.” Most of these studies have focused on the perceived quality of service of e-commerce retailers that provided transaction services for the customer through a Web interface and delivered a physical good (e.g., books) or service (e.g., air travel) to the customer following a purchase transaction. E-S-QUAL, developed by some of the original creators of SERVQUAL, is an example of such an instrument (Parasuraman et al., 2005). More recent examples of instruments include PeSQ (Cristobal et al., 2007), WebQual (Loiacono et al., 2007), and e-SELFQUAL (Ding et al., 2011).

While early e-service quality assessment research has focused on retail e-commerce, it is also important to consider other e-service environments. Belanger et al., (2006) proposed a goal-based taxonomy for Web sites which identified eleven different Web site types. A list of these eleven goal-based types is given in the leftmost column of Table 1; readers are referred to the original paper of Belanger et al., (2006) for precise definitions of each type. As shown in the rightmost column of Table 1, the current authors contend that these eleven types can be grouped into five categories based upon Web site focus: transaction processing, decision support, knowledge acquisition, online community, and entertainment. Retail e-commerce is represented by a single goal type within the category of transaction processing. The other ten Web site goal types shown in the first column of the table differ from e-commerce in that they are associated with what Parasuraman et al., (2005) referred to as “pure service Web sites, i.e., Web sites that are not oriented towards the delivery of a physical product. In this paper we shall refer to these “pure service” Web sites as pure e-service Web sites.

Table 1.
Web site taxonomy based on Belanger et al., (2006)
Belanger et al.(2006) Web Site GoalWeb Site Focus
  Interactive service management      Transaction processing
  Online application
  Informed decision-biased      Decision support
  Informed decision-unbiased
  Life enrichment
  Online learning      Knowledge acquisition
  Knowledge enhancement
  Information specific search
  Online community      Online community
  Entertainment      Entertainment

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