2.1.2 Railway station
In late 19th century, rail transport had been built along the coast of Malaya to facilitate the transportation process of tin between tin mining pond and port; while coming to 21st century, rail transport is one of the most vital transport mode in Malaysia. (Ministry of Transport (MOT), 2016). Rail transport in Malaysia is categorized into heavy rail which is mostly used for intercity passenger and freight transport, and light rail transit (LRT) which is used as urban public transport and transporting passengers between airports (Masirin, Salin, Zainorabidin, Martin & Samsuddin, 2017). In Klang Valley, rail transport are mostly LRT which has a high coverage with a total distance of 224.6km and 162 station across 8 different rail lines (Oon, Karim, & Yusoff, 2014; KL City Guide, 2017). Most railway station in Klang Valley are equipped with common facilities for the ease of passenger. These common facilities includes waiting area, vehicle access and circulation, rubbish bin, toilet, pedestrian facilities, operating system and information system.
2.1.3 Customer Satisfaction
According to Rust and Oliver (1994), satisfaction is defined as the fulfillment response of a customer where customers judge services by emotion-based response. Customer satisfaction required monitoring and management like physical asset, as retaining customers could bring more profit than attracting new customer (Naik, Gantasala & Prabhakar, 2010). Gitomer (1998) stated that satisfying customer cost ten times lesser than attracting a new customer. Building customer satisfaction can increase customer loyalty, they will share their delighted experience through positive word-of-mouth, indirectly, it can brings a good perception to new customer. Guirao, Garcia-Pastor, and Lopez-Lambas (2016) implied that improvement of passenger perception towards service quality can encourage repeat usage of public transport usage.
Based on Bailey and Pearson formula (1983), customer satisfaction is determined by the combination of customers’ positive and negative impression. Maister (1985) had express that two essential elements of customer satisfaction are customer expectation and customer perception; in terms of formula, Customer Satisfaction = Customer Perception – Customer Expectation. Gronroos (1988) implied that passenger satisfaction is developed by comparing pre-travel expectation and post-travel experience. Passenger is said to be satisfied when the post-travel experience exceeding the pre-travel expectation; passenger is dissatisfied when the post-travel experience is below the pre-travel expectation.
Kilibarda, Nikolicic, and Andrejic (2015) stated that customer satisfaction can be altered by the quality of service deliver. Aydin, Celik, and Gumus (2017) also mentioned that analyzing service quality is the primary factors to improve customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction and service quality can be improved by assessing the transportation system (Mardani, Zavadskas, Khalifah, Jusoh, & Khalil, 2016). In the context of railway transport, the perception of passengers may positively impacted by the railway stations quality (Givoni & Rietveld, 2017). Passenger may feel delighted and enjoyable when sufficient services and facilities is provided during the travel journey by railway transport (Dash, Dash & Pradhan, 2012). According to Geetika, Ghosh, Ojha and Kumar (2016), service provider should ensure more facilities available at platforms to meet passenger expectation. Hence, railway management should focus on operation of train services as well as provision of great quality waiting platform or station to maximize customer satisfaction.
According to Rao (2011), services are intangible as they cannot be seen, tasted, felt heard and smelt; therefore, customer are uncertain of the outcome. However, tangibles are heroic factors in appraisal of service quality (Ali & Fazili, 2016). Parasuraman et. al. (1988) defined tangibles as the physical facilities, equipment, personnel and the way of communication associated with the services. According to Ogle (2009), the vital factors that led to customer satisfaction and a prime consideration for repeat purchase are the physical aspects and tangible dimensions of the environment. As passenger of rail transport could not determine the outcome of the services, they will take the surrounding environment of the railway station as first impressions to determine the quality of services they received.
According to tangibles research conducted by Prasad and Shekhar (2010), hygienic ambiance of the station, overall appearance of staffs, and clarity of information provided are an essential elements to be tested. In another research conducted by Maruvada and Bellamkonda (2010) examined on the applicability of RAILQUAL had listed that the surrounded facilities like lighting, seating and toilets also a vital factors that contributed towards a tangible research. Based on the studies done by the Gallup Organisation (2011), the majority of passengers are unsatisfied with quality of facilities, and cleanliness of station facilities.
According to Ghosh, Ojha and Geetika (2017), the three out of top five amenities that required an upgrade or improvement are regarded to cleanliness and hygiene. Cleanliness possesses highest positive impact towards service quality of railway station (Aydin, Celik & Gumus, 2015). According to dell’Olio, Ibeas and Cecin (2011), cleanliness are defined as the vital factors that contribute good service quality. Findings from the past research had showed that cleanliness and hygiene of the surrounding environment will contribute to the first impression of services quality.
According to Dimanoski, Stojic, and Vrtanoski (2016), tangibles is the most important dimension of SERVQUAL which can be determined in terms of the appearance of the physical buildings, equipment and staff. Maruvada et al. (2010) also emphasize that a visually appealing timetable and display boards can empower the quality of station. Clear and precise timetable, signage, map, and announcement boards allow customer to read and understand easily can improve the customer experiences throughout the travel experience. Hence, it’s important for the service provider to ensure the tangibles elements of the railway station are well maintained and provided.
Empathy is defined as the degree of caring and individualized attention provided to the customers (Parasuraman et al., 1988). Parasuraman et al. (1988) also stated that quality of service perceived by customer is strongly influenced by the empathy shown from service provider. According to Vanniarajan and Stephen (2008), the level of satisfaction is found significantly influenced by empathy. In others word, service provider can affects customers emotional idea by showing empathy in the form of listening, understanding and show enthusiasm in helping customers’ needs. Emotions can classified into negative and positive feelings (Chebat & Slusarczyk, 2005). Positive feelings towards service quality of railway station can contribute to customer satisfaction; whereas, negative feelings towards service quality of railway station may dissatisfied customers.
According to Kilibarda et al. (2016), empathy can be shown by giving attention to every user either by company or staff, understand the specific needs of customers, and suitable business hours for all users. Ghosh, Ojha and Geetika (2017) recommended that staff should be well trained in terms of soft skills to deliver services in a more empathy manners especially when responding to passenger queries. All in all, operating system either vending machine or service counter, the services provided there should be courteous, user-friendly and helpful to the customer.
Futhermore, Prasad and Shekhar (2010) emphasizes that dealing with customer in a caring way can improvise service quality. For instance, provision of ramp walk and staff to assist aged and physically challenged passengers, and willingness of staff to address passenger queries can contribute to customer satisfaction (Ghosh et al., 2017). Service provider provided these facilities are perceived as empathy towards customer. Hence, empathy by being honest, caring and courteous towards customer is vital in order to improve customer satisfaction.
Parasuraman et al. (1988) defined that responsiveness in terms of SERVQUAL is willingness to help customers and provide quick service. Railway transport in India has loss of market share due to lack of customer responsiveness (Geetika et al., 2016). Besides that, Taskin and Durmaz (2010) explained that responsiveness have greater impact on cost reduction. Prasad et al. (2010) stated that responsiveness are needed to be taken care of as this have direct influenced to service quality. It can be observed that good customer responsiveness level can gain customer satisfaction.
According to Schweikhart, Strasser, and Kennedy (1993), quality management should emphasize on the process of handling complaints. Effective complaint handling process can encourage customer retention who had faced service problems (Hart, Heskett, & Sasser, 1990). In the context of rail transport, Ghosh et al. (2017) identified that staff service for customer requests, adequate response to passenger queries and on time availability of staff is relatively important. Furthermore, willingness to help and prompt service should be available all the time throughout the journey of rail transport (Prasad et al., 2010).
According to Kilibarda et al (2016), company should provide precise and accurate answer to the user, time for service recovery, also have sufficient staff that readily to help users at any time and always feel free to answer the request of the users. According to Geetika et al. (2017), customer wants a service to be done fast and expect not to wait too long for services delivery. These factors allows service recovery process to be smooth and fast. Thus, effective service recovery can satisfied customer and generate positive word-of-mouth (Richard, Gillbert, Robert, and Mackoy, 1995).