Working Papers

SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Customer Perceptions of Service Quality

Jan 1, 1986

Service quality.

Type of Report
Development and validation of a measurement scale.

To develop a scale that measures service quality as perceived by customers and which is applicable over a wide range of service categories.

Based on earlier qualitative research, an instrument containing 97 items describing 10 dimensions was refined and shortened through iterative data collection and analysis steps. To verify reliability and validity, the reduced scale was administered to fresh customer samples of 200 respondents each for four services.


  • The final SERVQUAL scale, containing 26 items, measures five dimensions of service quality, termed tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. Its reliability and validity are high across all four service categories studied– appliance repair and maintenance, bank, long-distance telephone, and credit card.
  • Each item of the SERVQUAL scale is cast as a pair of statements–one assessing consumers’ expectations about firms offering a particular service and the other assessing consumers’ perceptions about the individual firm being studied–both measured on 7-point scales. The difference between the two scores is the SERVQUAL score for that item and can be averaged along the five dimensions and overall across dimensions. This format easily allows the firm to diagnose particular areas of strength and weakness as well as overall perceived service quality.
  • The two-part format also makes the instrument convenient for measuring the perceived quality of several different firms within a category simply by including a set of perception statements for each firm; the expectation statements need only be given once.
  • The actual SERVQUAL scores obtained in this study may serve as a benchmark for future studies of service quality. The average expectation scores were consistently around 6 on the 7-point scale, while average perceptions were around 5, for an average SERVQUAL score of -1. In other words, there is a gap between perceived expectations and performance, even for well-known, prestigious firms such as the four included in this sample.

Target Audience/Applicability
Managers of service businesses

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