Scales in services marketing: a critique and way forward

Audrey Gilmore, Rosalind McMullan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the use of measurement scales and to illustrate some of the drawbacks of using scales for measuring service quality without due recognition of the limitations and rigidity of such scales, especially when they are applied to the complexity of service marketing situations and contexts.Design/approach – A review of the most widely used scales in services measurement, including SERVQUAL and SERVPERF is provided, along with some of the conceptual issues surrounding scale design and use in service contexts. Then some qualitative research techniques are considered in terms of their adaptability and flexibility for carrying out research regarding the complex nature of services.Findings – Measurement scales are evaluated and discussed. The key criticisms of the most well known scales used for services situations are presented. Then consideration is given to what might be a ‘best practice’ scenario for measuring and assessing service related issues in a service context. Originality/value – The discussion draws attention to the importance of recognising the most suitable research method for a service specific research problem/question rather than imposing a well known measurement scale or technique that may not suit the purpose.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)640-651
    JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
    Issue number5/6
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2009


    • Keywords – measurement scales
    • service marketing
    • quantitative techniques
    • qualitative techniques.


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