Customer costs of service quality: A critical incident study

William Youngdahl, Deborah L. Kellogg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The involvement of customers in the production of service has led some researchers to suggest that customer costs should be explicitly considered when applying quality cost categories to service operations. Traditional quality cost categories of prevention, appraisal, internal failure and external failure capture companies' quality costs, but this classification may not account for the specific actions taken by customers in their quests for service satisfaction. Given the significance of customers' satisfaction-seeking behaviors to the fields of services marketing and management, this study derives categories of customer costs of service quality by employing the Critical Incident Technique. Specifically, customers reported their own satisfaction-seeking actions taken during service encounters. These actions were then categorized according to both the traditional cost of quality scheme and a new classification scheme that was determined by the actual data. Comparisons of the traditional categorization with the new data-driven classification provide insight into the nature of customers' efforts to obtain satisfaction. Some of these customer efforts, or customer costs of service quality, may help us gain a deeper understanding of the satisfaction assurance role that the customer plays in service co-production. Implications for research and practice are drawn from this insight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-173
Number of pages25
JournalAdvances in Services Marketing and Management
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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