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Differentiation by improving quality of services at the last touch point: The case of Tehran pharmacies
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Industrial Marketing and Industrial Economics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. (Internationalization)
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Industrial Marketing and Industrial Economics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2012 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, Vol. 4, no 4, 345-363 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess the quality of Tehran pharmacies' services and their impacts on the pharmaceutical firms, to highlight forces behind the current situation and suggest some improvements. This provides the means for pharmaceutical companies to differentiate themselves by quality of services, in the forefront of dealing with the customers, so-called the last “touch point”.

Design/methodology/approach – After a comprehensive literature review, SERVQUAL model was chosen to be used in this study. A combination of quantitative and qualitative (integrative) methods was used for data collection and analysis. The quantitative data were gathered by questionnaires, including 22 pair items measuring expectation and perception, followed by qualitative data, including 32 in-depth interviews. Furthermore, the views of our expert panel consisting of nine experts have been identical to the study. For statistical treatment of quantitative data, SPSS software was used.

Findings – The study reveals that Tehran community pharmacies are facing serious service quality problems. The results of quantitative data show negative gaps in perceptions and expectations of customers in all 22 SERQUAL statements and all dimensions: Information, Reliability, Empathy, Appearance and Time commitment. Comparatively, appearance dimension is ranked as the highest quality and the lowest rank belongs to information dimension. The findings show that the generic SERVQUAL scale does not properly measure the quality of pharmacies' services; therefore, the authors recommend an industry-based scale; called PHARMA-SERVQUAL. The findings show the reasons for low quality services are: low education of pharmacists' assistants, lack of proper regulation and control, pharmacies' economic problems and cost of quality improvement, the culture of blaming others and accusing pharmaceutical firms, government and social security organization. In short, pharmacists transfer their service problems to pharmaceutical firms, which have largely neglected this last touch point with the customer. The study also suggests some quality improvements and academic as well as managerial implications.

Originality/value – The study provides empirical evidence regarding the service quality of pharmacies in a developing country (Iran) and adds depth to the understanding of the reasons behind the quality problems. This research contributes to the understanding of how pharmacies' qualities of services enhance/change the customers' perception of the pharmaceutical companies' product qualities. It suggests that the firms should differentiate themselves at the pharmacies as the “last touch point” dealing with the end-users. The study sheds light on the necessity of modifying the SERVQUAL items and dimensions to fit pharmacies' services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012. Vol. 4, no 4, 345-363 p.
Keyword [en]
Assessment of service quality, Consumer behaviour, Customer satisfaction, Customer services quality, Developing countries, Differentiation, Iran, Pharmaceuticals industry, Pharmacies' quality of service, PHARMA-SERVQUAL, SERVQUAL
National Category
Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-89560DOI: 10.1108/17566691211288331OAI: diva2:608250
Internationalization, MBA ProMA
Available from: 2013-02-26 Created: 2013-02-26 Last updated: 2013-03-08

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Dadfar, HosseinBrege, Staffan
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Industrial Marketing and Industrial EconomicsThe Institute of Technology
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