Special Session Summary Linking Process Quality to Consumer Satisfaction For Services: New Research Approaches

Laurette DubT, McGill University
[ to cite ]:
Laurette DubT (1998) ,"Special Session Summary Linking Process Quality to Consumer Satisfaction For Services: New Research Approaches", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, eds. Joseph W. Alba & J. Wesley Hutchinson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 415.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, 1998      Page 415



Laurette DubT, McGill University

Services consist of sequences of events that unfold according to scripts in which service providers and customers interact for simultaneous production and consumption (Deighton, 1992; Arnould & Price, 1993; DubT & Morgan, 1996). Thus, a positioning strategy for services, in contrast to that of a physical goods, has to be translated in the ways personnel and service delivery systems work on a daily basis. In such a context, specifying and testing precise relationships between process quality and consumer satisfaction present significant challenges for researchers and managers as well. This session focused on new research approaches to the study of service transactions from the simultaneous perspectives of the consumer and of the service firm.

In the first presentation, Johnson and Gustafsson introduced a framework for linking quality, using QFD (Quality Function Deployment), and customer satisfaction, using CSM (Customer Satisfaction Modeling). An empirical example in the retailing industry was used to illustrate the framework, the problems inherent in translating satisfaction into quality, and proposed solutions to these problems. Results of the study suggest that very different approaches to measurement are required at the different levels: whereas benefits are latent variables that can only be measured indirectly using an index of survey measures, attributes are measurement variables that can be operationalized directly using individual survey questions. The study also illustrates how priority setting within QFD should explicitly integrate both benefit and attribute importance.

In the second presentation, Frei and Harker explored the links between customer service delivery processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. They reported results from a comprehensive study conducted in the retail banking industry. Specific aspects of managerial practice regarding human resources, information technology and process design were empirically identified as drivers of satisfaction and financial performance.

In the third presentation, DubT, Menon and Jedidi reported two longitudinal field studies (college dining and healthcare) that focused on the relationships between satisfaction and the evolution of consumer’s emotions and provider’s performance along the service process. In both studies, they replicated a counterintuitive positive relationship observed between satisfaction and consumer’s reports of certain types of negative emotions normally associated with the service context (e.g., anxiety when in a hospital). Applying structural modelling, they found that more intense expression of such negative emotions at a given point of the service process was followed, in the subsequent episode, by more positive provider's performance which reduced the intensity of these emotions and increased satisfaction. When these effects were partialed out, the direct relationship between situation-attributed negative emotions and satisfaction became non-significant.

Discussion evolved around further theoretical and empirical development that would involve interdisciplinary research conducted at the interface of consumer-level and firm-level information. Insights were also exchanged on different strategies that may be used by the firm to translate consumers’ expectations into precise specification of the tangible and intangible aspects of process quality and to develop operations and management systems that ensure the satisfaction of these expectations on a daily basis.


Arnould, Eric and Linda Price (1993), "River Magic : Extraordinary Experience and the Extended Service Encounter," Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 24-45.

Deighton, John (1992), "The Consumption of Performance, Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 362-372.

DubT, Laurette and Michael S.Morgan, (1996), "Trend Effects and Gender Differences in Retrospective Judgments of Consumption Emotions," Journal of Consumer Research, 23, 156-162.