The Impact of Service Quality of Public Sports Facilities on Citizens’ Satisfaction, Image, and Word-of-mouth Intention

 

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to find the impact of the service quality of public sports facilities on citizen’s satisfaction, image, and word-of-mouth intention. To accomplish the purpose of this study, 354 citizens using a public skating rink were surveyed by means of the revised questionnaires from the prior studies (Hur, 1997; Jang & Bae, 2003; Kang et al., 2002; Lee & Shin, 2004). The content validity and reliability of the questionnaire were determined by conducting a pilot study. The reliability coefficient for the questionnaire was found to be α=.670-.786. The questionnaire utilizing a five-point Likert scale was employed to measure the degree of satisfaction, image, and word-of-mouth intention. The statistical methods in this study included frequency analysis, factors analysis, t-test, one-way ANOVA, and multiple regression analysis. For all the analyses, statistical significance was set at an alpha level of .05. The major findings obtained from this study were as follows: First, it was found that there was a significant difference in the perception of service quality of public sports facilities according to demographic characteristics, such as gender, marital status, educational level, age, occupation, and household income. Second, the operating service, event and program service and safety service had significant effects on citizen satisfaction. Third, the operating service, event and program service, safety service and use service had significant effects on their image. Finally, the results of this study also indicated that the operating service and safety service had significant effects on their word-of-mouth intention.

Introduction

With the growing demand and the importance of healthy lifestyles, many public sports facilities have been constructed over the last two decades in an effort to improve residents’ health and welfare and overall quality of life. Public sports facilities have played a very important role in promoting physical activity and participation in leisure sports activities. Therefore,there have been significant efforts to continue to improve the image of leisure sports and pursue the amelioration of service quality of public sports facilities.

However, it has been consistently found that the quality of service provided by many public leisure sports facilities still fail to meet citizens’needs (Kang, Kim, & Lee, 2002; Lee & Shin, 2004). Some studies reported that many public sports facilities operated by national or local government are mismanaged due to the lack of specialized user-centered operations management(Kim, 2003; Lee, 2000). Therefore, many public sports facilities have the low level of participation due to their failure to provide good quality service. The purpose of this study was to find the impact of the service quality of public sports facilities on citizens’ satisfaction, image, and word-of-mouth intention. To accomplish the objective, this study conducted a survey with 354 citizens using the Seoul Square Skating Rink located in Seoul, South Korea.

The following are research hypotheses which were formulated as the basis for the purpose of this study.

Hypothesis 1. There will be significant difference in the perception of service quality of public sports facilities according to demographic factors as gender, marital status, educational level, age,occupation, and household income.

Hypothesis 2. The service quality of public sports facilities will have a significant effect on citizens’ satisfaction.

Hypothesis 3. The service quality of public sports facilities will have a significant effect on image.

Hypothesis 4. The service quality of public sports facilities will have a significant effect on their word-of-mouth intention.

Background

Research on the service provision of public sports facilities (Song, Hur,& Ahn, 1998; Gronroos, 1978), the relationship between the service quality of public sports facilities and customer satisfaction (Kim, 2003; Jang & Bae, 2003), and the management plan according to the type of resident satisfaction (Kim & Yun, 2004) was conducted. These studies suggested the service quality of public sports facilities as a series of tangible as well as intangible service activities, which are provided by facility employees to customers, and emphasized the importance of satisfaction of customers, the citizens in this case, using the service quality of public sports facilities.

At length, the degree of satisfaction with the service quality of public sports facilities has the characteristic that the environment, processes,people, service and products are determined through their mutually combined dynamic state (Parasuman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1990). Therefore, the satisfaction level of customers with service quality has a significant meaning because it can effectively be used as judgmental data for strategic inroads into the target market (Choi K, 2002; Choi J, 2002; London & Bitta, 1984). In this context, a study conducted by Kang, et al., (2002) on the service quality and customer satisfaction of the Taereung International Skating Rink suggests that by improving differentiated service quality, it is possible to activate the Skating Rink that can be said to be the flower of winter leisure sports in a country with typically long winters.

Studies on the behavioral intentions of citizens using public facilities are extensive. Oh (2001) conducted the study on the effect of the service quality of public sports facilities on consumer satisfaction, intention to repurchase and word-of-mouth intention. Jang & Bae (2003) conducted a study on the relationship between the service quality of sports centers and consumer satisfaction. In addition, studies on the effect of service quality at public sports centers regarding word-of-mouth intention and the intention to revisit were conducted (Kim & Yun, 2004; Jeong, Kim & Kwon, 2004).

Also, it has been reported that there is an organic association between the service quality of public sports facilities and customers’ behavioral intention through Lee & Shin’s (2004) study on the relationship between public sports center customers’ emotional responses and consumer behavior as well as Baek’s (2005) study on the effect of the service quality of public sports centers with respect to intention to repurchase and word-of-mouth intention.

These studies present the need for effective service quality improvement and management of public sports facilities largely used by citizens to improve citizens’ better leisure life and quality of life as studies on company-wide management for the efficient operations management of public sports facilities(Lee, 2002; Song, 2000) emphasize. And they present the need to develop the differentiated plan of comparative advantage in each field that can build up the capability of the public sports facilities whose value may be recognized as the public service product that attempts the healthy development of the locality in depth and creates the improvement of citizens’ welfare.

Research Method

Subjects

There are approximately 3,000 citizen users using the Seoul Square Skating Rink per day located in Seoul, South Korea. By using a random sampling method,a total of 400 questionnaires were distributed the concession areas around the rink, and 354 questionnaires were collected and used for the final analysis.

After explaining the research purpose and received a verbal consent of participation from potential participants, they completed the questionnaires by utilizing a self-administered method. The reason why this study selected the Seoul Square Skating Rink was that it had its significance in that it was both the facility using the Square of City Hall for the first time at home and the facility opened to activate citizens’ winter leisure sports activities by the nature of this country’s long wintertime. The characteristics of respondents are presented in Table 1.

Table 1

Measurement Instrument

To identify the effect of the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink on citizens’ satisfaction, word-of-mouth intention and intention to revisit, this study conducted the questionnaire research as the measurement instrument. The questionnaire was made up of demographic characteristics, the service quality of the rink, satisfaction, image, word-of-mouth intention and the like. The 16 items relating to the service quality of the rink were made up by considering the followings: the scale rating used on the service quality and customer satisfaction of the Taereung International Skating Rink conducted by Kang et al., (2002) in relation to the items on the service quality of the rink; and the items used by Lee & Shin (2004), Hur (1997), Jang & Bae(2003) to study the service quality of public sports facilities. They were taken into consideration to correspond with the characteristics of the Seoul Square Skating Rink and finally advice from specialized managers and professors related to the service quality of public facilities was considered. These items secured their construct validity through exploratory factor analysis, and the varimax factor analysis of diagonal rotation revealed that those items were classified into such factors as operating service (4 items), food &beverage service (F&B) (3 items), event and program service (3 items),safety service (3 items), use service (3 items).

And items relating to public facility customers’ satisfaction, image and word-of-mouth intention were employed by considering the items used to study the effect of the service quality of public sports centers on customer satisfaction, image and word-of-mouth intention (Kim & Yun, 2004; Oh, 2001; Baek, 2005). First, the item on visiting citizens’ satisfaction was ‘I am satisfied with the rink facility’ and ‘I am satisfied with the service offered by the rink’. And the item on the word-of-mouth intention was composed of ‘I consider inviting my neighboring people to visit this Skating Rink.’ and I consider telling my neighboring people about this Skating Rink.’ And the item on the intention to revisit was composed ‘I consider visiting this Skating Rink next time.’ and ‘I will visit any place similar to this Skating Rink if any.’ The multiple-choice question in the questionnaire was asked to complete in a self-administered way using the five-point scale rating system.

It was found that the inter-item confidence coefficient to confirm whether the combination of attributes within the factor category of the item on the service quality of the rink had internal consistency wasα=.670-.786. In addition, it was found that the confidence coefficient was α=.870 between items on citizens’ satisfaction,α=.854 between the items on image and α=.790between the item on the word-of-mouth intention.

Data Processing

Empirical analysis was conducted to test the set research model and hypotheses. For data from the questionnaire, frequency analysis and exploratory factor analysis were conducted using Windows for SPSS. As shown in Table 2, Cronbach’s α test was conducted to confirm internal consistency of the test variables, and the reliability coefficient for the questionnaire was found to be α=.670-.786. And t-test and one-way ANOVA were conducted to test the difference between five factors of the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink and visiting citizens’ demographic characteristics, and multiple regression was conducted to analyze their effect on visiting citizens’ satisfaction, image and word-of-mouth intention.

Table 2

Research Results

The Type of Factor Combination and Reliability Analysis

An attempt was made to make a factor analysis of the service quality perceived by citizens using the Seoul Square Skating Rink, and as a result it was found that it had five attributes. These attributes were defined as operating service, F&B service, event and program service, safety service,and use service. As shown in Table 2, the reliability coefficient on the questionnaire was found to be α=.670-.786.

The Test of the Difference by Type of Satisfaction with Service Quality According to Demographic Characteristics

An attempt was made to conduct the t-test and one-way analysis of variance to analyze the difference in the perceived service according to demographic characteristics. The results are presented in Table 3.

Table 3

First, it was found that there was a significant difference in F&B service (t=3.827, p<.01) and use service (t=3.903, p<.001) according to gender, that there was a significant difference in operating service (t=-3.375,p<.01) and event and program services (t=-4.729p<.001) according to marital status and a significant difference in event and program service(F=3.662, p<.05) according to educational level.

It was found that there was a significant difference in operating service(F=3.445, p<.01) and event and program service (F=3.294, p<.05) according to age, that there was a significant difference in operating service (F=3.237,p<.05) and F&B service (F=3.271, p<.05), safety service (F=3.727,p<.01) and use service (F=4.699, p<.01) and that there was a significant difference in use service (F=3.758, p<.05) according to monthly income.

The Effect of the Service Quality of the Rink on Visiting Citizens’ Behavior

1) The Effect of Service Quality on Satisfaction An attempt was made to conduct multiple regression analysis to identify satisfaction with the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink. The results are presented in Table 4. It was found that service quality variables such as operating service(t=12.112, p<.001), event and program service (t=2.520, p<.05), and safety service (t=3.651, p<.001) had a significant effect on visiting citizens’ satisfaction.

Table 4

2) The Effect of Service Quality on Image An attempt was made to conduct multiple regression analysis to identify the image of the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink. The results are presented in Table 5. It was found that service quality variables such as operating service (t=3.541,p<.001), event and program service (t=2.937, p<.001), safety service(t=5.242, p<.001) and use service (t=2.451, p<.05) had a significant effect on visiting citizens’ image on it.

Table 5

3) The Effect of Service Quality on the Word-of-mouth Intention An attempt was made to conduct multiple regression analysis to identify the word-of-mouth intention of the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink. The results are presented in Table 6. It was found that service quality variables such as operating service (t=9.876, p<.001) and safety service (t=4.378, p<.001)had a significant effect on visiting citizens’ word-of-mouth intention.

Table 6

Discussion

It was found that there was a significant difference in F&B service and use service according to gender and that there was a significant difference in operating service and event and program services according to marital status. And it was revealed that there was a significant difference in event and program services but that there was a significant difference in operating service and event and program service according to age. Finally it was found that there was a significant difference in use service according to total monthly household income.

These findings are consistent with those of previous studies on the relationship between the types of perceived service quality and overall service quality of public sports facility consumers (Kang, Kim & Lee, 2002; Kim& Hur, 1999).

At length, citizens using the Seoul Square Skating Rink showed the similar behavior pattern according to their demographic characteristics.

For this reason, it is necessary to attempt to engage in intensive service marketing that can enhance male consumers’ level of satisfaction to gear the operating time to the time zone when they largely use the rink. And it is necessary to develop the snack corner at the adjacent space or provide information on diverse food & beverage establishments licensed by Seoul City Government. In addition, it is important to secure the more efficient space for the effective traffic line, attached facilities, installation of supplies, and watching and participation for convenience’s sake.

On the other hand, female consumers have a high interest in operating and safety services prepared because they are sensitively responsive to their accompanying children’s satisfaction. Therefore, it is necessary to make exhaustive preparation for the operation of the rink so in order to enhance their level of satisfaction at the time zone of daytime when they largely use it. In addition, it is necessary to attempt the specialized program which family members can get together because they have a high interest in the educational value.

And it is necessary to develop the event and programs tailored to the taste of young, unmarried women in their 20s because they have a high interest in event and programs. For example, the fantastic event could be hosted by presenting the fantastic rink for one couple selected from the random application of those couples dreaming of the meaningful proposal of a marriage.City Government can easily secure the sponsoring company that intends to get the effect of public relations with no charge.

In addition, it is necessary to create the program for the alienated strata and carry forward with the event by investing in it. The program whose timezone is set for the handicapped can accomplish the original function of the square for the members of society. And the elderly, self-employed men and housewives have a high interest in operating services. It is necessary to make thorough preparation for employees’ kindness, manners, countenance, and convenience for use and ice management in order to enhance their level of satisfaction. Especially, students and housewives have high concern for safety services, and so it is necessary to reinforce the placement and service of the employees that can enhance the image of safety at the time zone when they largely use the rink.

Like this, it is necessary to continue making efforts to develop and improve the service quality that can reinforce the psychological and social satisfaction of the citizens using the Seoul Square Skating Rink according to their demographic characteristics.

Second, it was found that the service quality variables of the Seoul Square Skating Rink such as operating service, event and program service and safety service and the like had a significant effect on visiting citizens’ satisfaction. In addition, it was revealed that operating service, safety service and the like had a significant effect on visiting citizens’ word-of-mouth intention. And it was found that operating service, safety service and the like had a significant effect on visiting citizens’ intention to revisit.

These findings are consistent with those of previous studies that analyzed the effect of the service quality of public sports facilities on behavioral intention such as consumers’ satisfaction, image and word-of-mouth intention(Kim & Yun, 2004).

At length, it is necessary to prepare and inspect operating and safety services among other things so as to enhance visiting citizens’ level of satisfaction by ameliorating the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink. That is, many citizens using the Skating Rink can feel satisfied and enjoy themselves by receiving fun from employees’ kindness, good countenance and manners, convenience in use, good ice rink condition management and the preparation of personnel and equipment, the admission of the optimal number of persons, comfortable latrine and the like, which enable them to enjoy themselves.

And to enhance the word-of-mouth intention of visiting citizens who can create the surest public relations effect, it is necessary to reinforce the service related to operation and safety as well. In particular, it is necessary to consider the management plan that can give diverse, careful consideration and benefit to induce their positive word-of-mouth intention because it was found that the transmission of information through the word of mouth by family members, friends and neighbors was most influential.

Because the level of quality service provision enhancing the level of satisfaction may raise people’s word-of-mouth intention and enable them to be indifferent and badly responsive, the plan to captivate their mind should continue to be considered. And seeing that operating service, event and program service , safety service and use service had a significant effect on the image,it is necessary to keep on raising their operation and preparation in a more systematic, sustained way.

At length, the level of using the Seoul Square Skating Rink should be maximized by raising consumer satisfaction with its service quality through the specialized, systematic operation of facilities, equipment and manpower and through the provision of quality service (Lee & Lee, 2002). And it is necessary to guarantee consumers convenience and safety through the periodic inspection and repair of the rink facility, especially to take action to prevent skaters from any injury prone to arise from the blunting of the skate blade. In addition, it is, among other things, important to provide for the system for identifying diverse service needs quickly and reflecting the identified contents quickly.

And active urban marketing oriented towards citizen satisfaction should contribute to raising equity as well as enhancing citizen satisfaction and profitability (Park, 2000). Hotels around the Seoul Square Skating Rink attempted to engage in active marketing in relation to food & beverage services, which received good responses from citizens, and hotel business came to be spurred as they made practical use of marketing with the use of the Seoul Square. This is because thousands of people thronged to the Seoul Square Skating Rink every day, which resulted in the surging sales of food and beverage shops as it came to a forefront as the space for leisure and play.

On the other hand, needs for popular snack corners were high, and the need for them came to be emphasized among youth and housewives. It is necessary to develop and operate the snack corner that can become harmonized with the environment of the Seoul Square while accommodating their diverse needs.

Conclusion

This study attempted to investigate the effect of the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink on visiting citizens’ satisfaction, image and word-of-mouth intention. Ultimately, this study aimed to present the suggestion for effective management plan lovable to citizens.

First, it was found that there was a significant difference in food &beverage service and use service according to gender and that there was a significant difference in operating service and event and program services according to marital status.

It was found that there was a significant difference in event and program services according to educational level and that there was a significant difference in operating services, and event and program services according to age. And it was found that there was a significant difference in operating service, food & beverage services, and event and program services according to occupation and that there was a significant difference in use service according to total monthly household income.

Second, the examination of the effect of the service quality of the Seoul Square Skating Rink on visiting citizens’ behavior showed that its attributes such as operating service, event and program services, safety service and the like had a significant effect on citizen satisfaction. And it was found that operating service, event and program services, safety service and use service had a significant effect on their image and that operating service and safety service had a significant effect on their word-of-mouth intention.

In consequence, it is suggested that it is necessary to improve and reinforce the services related to operation and safety first so that the Seoul Square Skating Rink may be positioned as the noted place appealing to citizens.In addition, it is necessary to select the representative object through the public subscription of the specialized event and program capable of accommodating the needs of diverse social strata and to plan and progress it so that people may share in impression and sympathy.

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