Service Quality in Community Pharmacy: an Exploration of Determinants

26 May 2014

BACKGROUND: Although various instruments have been developed to measure customer satisfaction with community pharmacy services, there is limited research regarding pharmacy staffs’ understanding of service quality and its determinants. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explore the perceptions of pharmacy staff regarding the factors which constitute a high level of service quality using the service quality determinants proposed by the Conceptual Model of Service Quality. METHODS: Structured interviews were conducted with 27 pharmacy assistants and 6 pharmacists in three community pharmacies in Sydney. The interview questions focused on the participants’ perceptions of consumer expectations, the translation of these perceptions into service quality specifications, the actual service delivery and the communication to customers. RESULTS: From the pharmacy staff perspective, service quality is significantly limited by insufficient organisation-internal communication and control processes which impede role clarity and the resolution of conflicting role expectations among customer service staff. Participants indicated that these problems could be alleviated through the implementation of more transparent, realistic, measurable and accepted quality specifications by pharmacy management. CONCLUSIONS: The study indicates that the extent and quality to which pharmacy management sets, maintains and communicates service quality specifications to staff directly affects role clarity, role conflict and organisational commitment among customer service staff, which in turn directly influence the level of service quality provided to customers.