The Quality of Service Declines in First Quarter

Customers see a decline in quality across a broad number of service industries, according to the American Society for Quality (ASQ) first-quarter 2005 Quality Index.

Airlines, wireless communication services, hospitals, hotels and fast-food chains led the decline in perceived quality of service, according to the ASQ.

In a brief report, the Milwaukee-based ASQ noted that cellular telephone manufacturers scored higher in customers' assessments than many cellular phone service providers. This is the second year that cell phone manufacturers are being included in the Quality Index.

The ASQ says it believes quality will grow in importance as service industry businesses mature and gain competitors, and cited slight gains in the perceived quality of electrical power utilities as an example. The gains for electrical power utility companies were derived from the effects of deregulation and technological advances that combined to increase competition.

The declines in service industries were led by a 7.7% decline in perceived quality, primarily due to low ratings for wireless communications systems, the lowest rated industry for perceived quality.

The airline industry was the second lowest rated industry for perceived quality, and the ASQ said it appears that customers have not reduced their expectations as rapidly as the airlines have reduced their service.

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