oa Journal of Contemporary Management - Managers’ perspectives of service quality and customer loyalty in small clothing retail businesses

Volume 16 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



In a highly competitive service environment, the quality of service offered by businesses can mean the difference between success and failure. In this regard, the role of customer loyalty cannot be disregarded. The constructs of service quality and customer loyalty are however intangible and complex and therefore difficult to come to grips with. This is more so, because their precursors can be subject to context-specific nuances. This fuels the impetus of the study to investigate the determinants of service quality and the basis for assessment of customer loyalty in small clothing retail businesses. Most studies tend to explore the concepts from the customer’s perspectives; however, this study focuses on the managers’ perspectives. The study utilised a descriptive qualitative research design and respondents were selected using a homogenous purposive non-probability sampling technique. Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with owners or managers of small clothing retail stores. Findings indicate that price, race and personalised service are critical determinants of service quality. On the other hand, credible inference of the existence of customer loyalty may be made on the premise of enhanced business image, improved communications, increased trust and repeat patronage. While repeat patronage is arguably the best indicator of customer loyalty, the other issues provide reasonable grounds to make a reliable inference of the state of customer loyalty to the business. It is imperative for managers of small clothing retail businesses to strive to position their businesses favourably in the minds of the customers, cultivate a business culture that enables more effective communication while concurrently building trust with customers.

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