Service quality delivery through web sites: A critical review of extant knowledge


Evidence exists that service quality delivery through Web sites is an essential strategy to success, possibly more important than low price and Web presence. To deliver superior service quality, managers of companies with Web presences must first understand how customers perceive and evaluate online customer service. Information on this topic is beginning to emerge from both academic and practitioner sources, but this information has not yet been examined as a whole. The goals of this article are to review and synthesize the literature about service quality delivery through Web sites, describe what is known about the topic, and develop an agenda for needed research.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adams, Dennis A., R. Ryan Nelson, and Peter A. Todd. 1992. “Perceived Usefulness, Ease of Use, and Usage of Information Technology: A Replication.”MIS Quarterly, June, 227–247.

  2. Alba, Joseph, John Lynch, Barton Weitz, Chris Janiszewski, Richard Lutz, Alan Sawyer, and Stacy Wood. 1997. “Interactive Home Shopping: Consumer, Retailer and Manufacturer Incentives to Participate in Electronic Marketplaces.”Journal of Marketing 61 (3): 38–53.

  3. Ariely, Dan. 2000. “Controlling the Information Flow: Effects on Consumers’ Decision Making and Preferences.”Journal of Consumer Research 27 (2): 233–248.

  4. Bakos, Yannis. 1997. “Reducing Buyer Search Costs: Implications for Electronic Marketplaces.”Management Science 43 (12): 1676–1692.

  5. Chen, Qimei and William D. Wells. 1999. “Attitude Toward the Site.”Journal of Advertising Research 39 (September/October): 27–37.

  6. Cowles, Deborah. 1989. “Consumer Perceptions of Interactive Media.”Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 33 (Winter): 83–89.

  7. — and Lawrence A. Crosby. 1990. “Consumer Acceptance of Interactive Media in Service Marketing Encounters.”The Service Industries Journal 10 (July): 521–540.

  8. Culnan, Mary J. 1999.Georgetown Internet Privacy Policy Study. Retrieved from

  9. — and Pamela K. Armstrong. 1999. “Information Privacy Concerns, Procedural Fairness and Impersonal Trust: An Empirical Investigation.”Organization Science 10 (1): 104–115.

  10. Dabholkar, Pratibha A. 1996. “Consumer Evaluations of New Technology-Based Self-Service Options: An Investigation of Alternative Models of SQ.”International Journal of Research in Marketing 13 (1): 29–51.

  11. Davis, Fred D. 1989. “Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, and User Acceptance of Information Technology.”MIS Quarterly, September, 319–340.

  12. —, Richard P. Bagozzi, and Paul R. Warshaw. 1989. “User Acceptance of Computer Technology: A Comparison of Two Theoretical Models.”Management Science 35 (8): 982–1003.

  13. Eastlick, Mary Ann. 1996. “Consumer Intention to Adopt Interactive Teleshopping.” MSI Working Paper, Report No. 96-113, Marketing Science Institute, Cambridge, MA.

  14. Friedman, Batya, Peter H. Kahn Jr., and Daniel C. Howe. 2000. “Frust Online.”Communications of the ACM 43 (December): 34–40.

  15. Griffith, D. A. and R. A. Krampf. 1998. “An Examination of the Web-Based Strategies of the Top 100 U.S. Retailers.”Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice 6 (3): 12–23.

  16. Hanrahan, Timothy. 1999. “Pride Isn’t Everything: Companies Scramble to Make Sure Customer Service Doesn’t Get Lost in Cyberspace.”Wall Street Journal, July 12, p. R20.

  17. Hendrickson, Anthony R., Patti D. Massey, and Timothy Paul Cronan. 1993. “On the Test-Retest Reliability of Perceived Usefulness and Perceived Ease of Use Scales.”MIS Quarterly, June, 227–229.

  18. Hoffman, Donna L. and Thomas P. Novak. 1996. “Marketing in Hypermedia Computer-Mediated Environments: Conceptual Foundations.”Journal of Marketing 60 (July): 50–68.

  19. ——, and M. A. Peralta. 1999. “Building Consumer Trust Online.”Communications of the ACM 42 (4): 80–85.

  20. Hoque, Abeer Y. and Gerald L. Lohse. 1999. “An Information Search Cost Perspective for Designing Interfaces for Electronic Commerce.”Journal of Marketing Research 36 (August): 387–394.

  21. Jarvenpaa, Sirkka L. and P. A. Todd. 1997. “Consumer Reactions to Electronic Shopping on the World Wide Web.”International Journal of Electronic Commerce 1 (2): 59–88.

  22. Keil, Mark, Peggy M. Beranek, and Benn R. Konsynski. 1995. “Usefulness and Ease of Use: Field Study Evidence Regarding Task Considerations.”Decision Support Systems 13: 75–91.

  23. Li, Hairong, Cheng Kuo, and Martha G. Russell. 1999. “The Impact of Perceived Channel Utilities, Shopping Orientations and Demographics on the Consumer’s Online Buying Behavior.”Journal of Computer Medicated Communication. Retrieved from www.ascusc.or. cmc/vol5/issue2/hairon.html

  24. Liu, Chang and Kirk P. Arnett. 2000. “Exploring the Factors Associated With Web Site Success in the Context of Electronic Commerce.”Information and Management 38 (1): 23–34.

  25. Lociacono, Eleanor, Richard T. Watson, and Dale Goodhue. 2000. “WebQualTM: A Web Site Quality Instrument.” Working Paper. Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

  26. Lohse, Gerald L. and Peter Spiler. 1998. “Electronic Shopping.”Communications of the ACM 41 (July): 81–88.

  27. Lynch, John G. and Dan Ariely. 2000. “Wine Online: Search Costs Affect Competition on Price, Quality and Distribution.”Marketing Science 19 (1): 83–103.

  28. Mick, David Glenn and Susan Fournier. 1995. “Technological Consumer Products in Everyday Life: Ownership, Meaning, and Satisfaction.” Working Paper, Report No. 95-104. Marketing Science Institute, Cambridge, MA.

  29. — and —. 1998. “Paradoxes of Technology: Consumer Cognizance, Emotions, and Coping Strategies.”Journal of Consumer Research 25 (September): 123–147.

  30. Montoya-Weiss, Mitzi, Glenn B. Voss, and Dhruv Grewal. 2000. “Bricks to Clicks: What Drives Customer Use of the Internet in a Multi-Channel Environment.” Working Paper. Caroline State University.

  31. Mulvenna, Maurice D., Sarabjot S. Anand, and Alex G. Buchner. 2000. “Personalization on the Net Using Web Mining.”Communications of the ACM 43 (August): 123–125.

  32. Nielsen, Jakob. 2000.Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publisher.

  33. Novak, Thomas P., Donna L. Hoffman, and Y. F. Yung. 2000. “Measuring the Customer Experience in Online Environments: A Structural Modeling Approach.”Marketing Science 19 (1): 22–42.

  34. Quelch, John and Lisa Klein. 1996. “The Internet and International Marketing.”Sloan Management Review 15 (Spring): 60–75.

  35. Palmer, Jonathon W., Joseph P. Bailey, and Samer Faraj. 1999. “The Role of Intermediaries in the Development of Trust on the www: The Use and Prominence of Trusted Third Parties and Privacy Statements.”Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. Retrieved from www.

  36. Parasuraman, A. 2000. “Technology Readiness Index (TRI): A Multiple Item Scale to Measure Readiness to Embrace New Technologies.”Journal of Services Research 2 (4): 307–320.

  37. Parasuraman, A. and Charles Colby. 1997. “Correlates and Consequences of Consumer Attitudes Toward New Technologies: Implications for Marketing Technology-Based Services.” Paper presented at the 1997 Frontiers in Services Conference, October, Nashville, TN.

  38. — and —. 2001.Techno-Ready Marketing: How and Why Your Customers Adopt Technology. New York. Free Press.

  39. —, Valarie A. Zeithaml, and Leonard L. Berry. 1985. “A Conceptual Model of SQ and Its Implications for Future Research.”Journal of Marketing 49 (Fall): 41–50.

  40. ——, and —. 1988. “SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Service Quality.”Journal of Retailing 64 (Spring): 12–37.

  41. Rice, M. 1997. “What Makes Users Revisit a Web Site?.”Marketing News 31 (6): 12–13.

  42. Rust, Roland, Anthony J. Zahorik, and Timothy L. Keiningham. 1994.Return on Quality. Chicago: Probus.

  43. Schlosser, Ann E. and Alaina Kanfer. 1999. “Interactivity in Commercial Web Sites: Implications for Web Site Effectiveness.” Working Paper. Vanderbilt University.

  44. Segars, Albert H., and Varun Grover. 1993. “Re-Examining Perceived Ease of Use and Usefulness: A Confirmatory Factor Analysis.”MIS Quarterly, December, 517–525.

  45. Spiller, Peter and Gerald L. Lohse. 1997–1998. “A Classification of Internet Retail Stores.”International Journal of Electronic Commerce 2 (Winter): 29–36.

  46. Subramanian, Girish H. 1994. “A Replication of Perceived Usefulness and Perceived Ease of Use Measurement.”Decision Sciences 25 (5–6: 863–874.

  47. Swaminathan, Vanitha, Elzbieta Lepkowska-White, and Bharat Rao. 1999. “Browsers or Buyers in Cyberspace? An Investigation of Factors Influencing Electronic Exchange.”Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 5 (2). Available from http://www.ascusc.og/ jcmc/vol5/issue2/swaminathan.htm

  48. Szymanski, David M. and Richard T. Hise. 2000. “e-Satisfaction: An Initial Examination.”Journal of Retailing 76 (3): 309–322.

  49. Van den Poel, Dirk and Joseph Leunis. 1999. “Consumer Acceptance of the Internet as a Channel of Distribution.”Journal of Business Research 45: 249–256.

  50. Venkatesh, Alladi. 1998. “Cybermarkets and Consumer Freedoms and Identities.”European Journal of Marketing 32 (7–8): 664–676.

  51. Wolfinbarger, Mary F. and Mary C. Gilly. 2001. “Shopping Online for Freedom, Control and Fun.”California Management Review 43 (2): 34–55.

  52. ——. 2002. “comQ: Dimensionalizing, Measuring and Predicting Quality of the E-tail Experience.” Working Paper No. 02-100. Marketing Science Institute. Cambridge, MA.

  53. Yang, Z., R. T. Peterson, and L. Huang. 2001. “Taking the Pulse of Internet Pharmacies.”Marketing Health Services, Summer, 5–10.

  54. Zeithaml, Valarie A. 1988. “Consumer Perceptions of Price, Quality and Value: A Means-End Model and Synthesis of Evidence.”Journal of Marketing 52: 2–22.

  55. —, Leonard L. Berry, and A. Parasuraman. 1988. “Communication and Control Processes in the Delivery of SQ.”Journal of Marketing 52 (April): 35–48.

  56. —, A. Parasuraman, and Leonard L. Berry. 1990.Delivering Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations. New York: Free Press.

  57. ——, and Arvind Malhotra. 2000. “e-service Quality: Definition, Dimensions and Conceptual Model.” Working Paper. Marketing Science Institute, Cambridge, MA.

  58. Zeithaml, Valarie A., A. Parasuraman, and Arvind Malhotra. 2002. “An Empirical Examination of the Service Quality-Value-Loyalty Chain in an Electronic Channel.” Working Paper. University of North Carolina.

  59. Zellweger, Paul. 1997. “Web-Based Sales: Defining the Cognitive Buyer.”Electronic Markets 7 (3): 10–16.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Valarie A. Zeithaml.

Additional information

Valarie A. Zeithaml is the Roy and Alice Richards Bicentennial Professor and Area Chair at the Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She obtained an M.B.A. and doctorate from the University of Maryland and has devoted the past 20 years to researching and teaching the topics of service quality and services management. She is the author of three service books:Delivery Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations, Driving Customer Equity, andServices Marketing, a textbook now in its second edition. She has won numerous teaching and research awards, including the Ferber Award from theJournal of Consumer Research, the Maynard Award from theJournal of Marketing, the Jagdish Sheth Award from theJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and the O’Dell Award from theJournal of Marketing Research. She has consulted with more than 40 service and product companies.

A. Parasuraman (D.B.A., Indiana University) is a professor and holder of the James W.McLamore Chair in Marketing at the University of Miami. He has received many distinguished teaching and research awards. In 1988, he was selected as one of the “Ten Most Influential Figures in Quality” by the editorial board ofThe Quality Review. In 1998, he received the American Marketing Association’s “Career Contributions to the Services Discipline Award.” In 2001, he received the Academy of Marketing Science’s “Outstanding Marketing Educator Award.” Dr. Parasuraman has published numerous articles in leading scholarly and managerial journals. He has served as editor of theJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science for a 3-year term (1997–2000). He has authored or coauthored several books, the most recent of which isTechno-Ready Marketing: How and Why Your Customers Adopt Technology (2001).

Arvind Malhotra is an assistant professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has conducted award-winning research on how companies exploit information technology to reinvent themselves for e-business. He teaches e-commerce strategies to executive M.B.A.s and strategic use of information technology to M.B.A. students.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zeithaml, V.A., Parasuraman, A. & Malhotra, A. Service quality delivery through web sites: A critical review of extant knowledge. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 30, 362 (2002).

Download citation


  • Service Quality
  • Customer Service
  • Recovery Service
  • Technology Readiness
  • Market Science Fall