Service quality determinants and effectiveness in commercial real estate.
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The service industry has been growing fast as national economies grew therefore becoming a major contributor to national gross domestic products (GDP). This growth in the services sector has led to questions around the issue of service quality. The aim of this study was to identify the determinants of service, assess the level of service quality in commercial real estate leasing and identify possible quality improvement measures. In carrying out the study, the service quality model developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1988:14), SERVQUAL, was used. The study was based on the leasing services of the broking department of one of the leading commercial real estate companies operating in Durban. The study was restricted to the Durban market. A non-probabilistic sample of 120 customers was drawn from a list of lease transactions concluded in the last one year. From this sample, 84 questionnaires were successfully completed either by way of a face to face interview or by telephone, showing a response rate of 70 percent. Data was collected using a questionnaire based on the SERVQUAL model and adjusted by the researcher in order to be relevant to the commercial real estate industry. The questionnaire comprised two sections each with 22 questions divided into the five determinants of service quality, which are service tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. The first section of 22 questions was on customer expectations of service while the second section of 22 questions was on customer perceptions of service quality received and factor rating at the end. Factor analysis of survey response data was used to analyze the data and draw conclusions. The study findings are that commercial real estate service quality determinants match those in other industries except for rank and order. In general, service quality was found to be below customer expectations and commercial real estate firms need to work on ways to improve it. The study is limited to the specific settings of customers of property brokers in the Durban commercial real estate market. It is uncertain as to whether the findings can be generalized to other areas.