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Regional bias when benchmarking services using customer satisfaction scores

Brint, Andrew and Fry, John (2019) Regional bias when benchmarking services using customer satisfaction scores. Total Quality Management and Business Excellence. ISSN 1478-3363

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Abstract

Regional monopoly service organisations such as electricity, gas and water distributors, health trusts, public transport, and local government are subject to regulatory oversight. A common element in this is benchmarking an organisation against similar organisations based in different regions. Customer satisfaction is often an important part of this competitive benchmarking. However, if people from different regions give a different average satisfaction score for the same experience, then this disadvantages some companies. Therefore, regional satisfaction was investigated in an environment where differences in customer service levels are controlled for. The average online satisfaction ratings people from different regions of the UK gave to the same overseas holiday hotels were investigated. The 24,154 ratings were analysed using linear mixed effects and ordinal models. The average ratings given by people from the London region were significantly lower than those from elsewhere. Regional correction factors are developed and applied to published satisfaction ratings for electricity distributors. The adjustment was sufficient to move the London distributor from the penalty category to a borderline position. Hence, customer satisfaction ratings should be used cautiously when benchmarking regional organisations. This investigation of the potential for regional bias contributes to the large literature on customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions.

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