We compared service quality perceptions and expectations for consumers from five traditional garden centers (TGC) and three nontraditional garden center outlets (NTO) in Charlotte, N.C., in 1995. NTO and TGC customers had very similar expectations of service quality from their respective retailers. However, TGC customers perceived that their retailer better met their overall expectations. Service quality gaps, the difference between customer perceptions and expectations, were identified for both types of outlets for four of five service quality dimensions. Both TGC and NTO customers ranked assurance and responsiveness as the most important service quality dimensions. Empathy was more important than reliability to TGC customers. This order was reversed for NTO customers. Both sets of customers ranked tangibles as the least important service quality dimension.
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