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Expectations and experiences of customers in formal full service restaurants in Port Elizabeth

O Mhlanga, HJ Moolman, Z Hattingh


The purpose of this study was to determine customers’ expectations and experiences in formal full service restaurants in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The aims were to: (a) assess customers’ expectations and experiences, (b) establish the significance of difference between experienced and expected service quality, and (c) identify the number of dimensions for expectations and experiences scales of the DINESERV model. The empirical research was conducted using primary data. The questionnaire was based on Stevens, Knutson and Patton (1995:58) and Andaleeb and Conway’s (2006:7) research. In order to meet the surveys’ goals, descriptive and bivariate statistical analyses were conducted. The empirical results show that on a 5 point Likert scale, customers’ expectations scores ranged between 3.42 and 4.85, whilst experiences scores ranged between 2.96 and 4.39. The most important expectations items were; ‘value for money’, ‘taste of food’ and ‘staff greeting customers’ whilst the lowest expectations items were “pleasant odours” and “spatial layout and functionality”. The highest experience items were; ‘taste of food’, ‘taste of beverages’ and ‘value for money’ whilst the lowest experience items were ‘pleasant odours’, ‘spatial layout and functionality’, ‘management presence’ and ‘overall quality of ambience’. The DINESERV gap was -0.47, which indicates that overall customers’ experiences fell below customers’ expectations. Restaurateurs should improve customers’ experiences to reduce the DINESERV gap. The results of this study could help restaurateurs to identify areas of improvement and increase customer satisfaction.

Keywords: Customers, expectations, experiences, DINESERV, restaurateurs.

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