The exploration of service quality and its measurement for private higher education institutions
The strategic importance of service excellence for service industries places the focus on service quality leadership, service quality management systems, service quality dimensions and the measurement of service quality. Many businesses such as private higher education institutions (PHEIs) regard service quality excellence as the single most important and distinct competence for survival and sustainability. The paucity of literature on the topic does not reflect the substantial growth of PHEIs in South Africa, and this paper explores service quality in this context. This exploratory study focuses on service quality (general insights), the need for service quality management and measurement at PHEIs, and the practical value of the SERVQUAL methodologies. The research approach is exploratory in the sense that it involves a literature review and an empirical application of the SERVQUAL instrument at a PHEI. The results (with internal validity) indicate the following three factors: the increasing strategic importance of service quality at PHEIs; good service quality levels at the PHEI studied; and why and how SERVQUAL (and SERVPERF) can benefit PHEIs.
Key words: service quality management, service leadership, service quality dimensions, service quality management systems, private higher education institutions (PHEIs), exploratory study, service quality measurement, SERVQUAL