Customer service quality at selected commercial health and fitness centres in KwaZulu-Natal
Interest in the quality of the health and fitness industry has grown considerably over the last decade. Gymnasiums are increasingly placing greater emphasis on meeting members‟ expectations and needs. As more competition enters this industry, members‟ perceptions of gymnasiums facilities and services are becoming more important. It is apparent that there is a need to measure members‟ expectations and perceptions of service quality at Virgin Active gymnasiums in the greater Durban area. The aim of this study was to investigate customer service quality at commercial health and fitness centres. The four objectives of this study were: firstly, to identify members‟ expectations in terms of the delivered services provided at Virgin Active gymnasiums; secondly, to ascertain the perceptions of members towards the services provided at Virgin Active gymnasiums; thirdly, to measure the gaps between members‟ expectations and perceptions of service quality, using a modified version of the SERVQUAL model, and fourthly, to calculate and measure the score of the SERVQUAL dimensions. The instrument used to assess the members‟ expectations and perceptions of service quality was the SERVQUAL questionnaire, measuring expectations and perceptions according to five quality dimensions. Four hundred and fifty members were surveyed using the SERVQUAL questionnaire. The respondents were selected through non-probability sampling within which convenience sampling was applied. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistical techniques. Conclusions and recommendations were thereafter drawn from the literature and the findings of the study. The study shows that members‟ expectations of service quality exceeded their perceptions on the five service quality dimensions used in the SERVQUAL questionnaire. The smallest dimension gap score proved to be tangibles, while the largest gap score of the study proved to be empathy followed by responsiveness. iv Therefore, it is recommended that Virgin Active gymnasiums in the greater Durban area attend to these gaps and ensure that necessary strategies are implemented so that members receive a high level of service quality in all areas of the service dimensions.