Service quality expectations and perceptions held by CIBA vision's customers.
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The contact lens market in the United States is a multi-billion dollar market and data indicates that almost 13% of all Americans wear contact lenses (Beales, 2003:paragraph 3). Beales (2003: paragraph 3) states that there are four major manufacturers of contact lenses (e.g., Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb, CIBA Vision and Cooper Vision) and their channel of distribution is through eye care practitioners (optometrists). Since contact lens companies offer similar products their differentiating characteristic is their service element, service quality in the contact lens industry is important as Wong (2001: paragraph 3) mentions that the contact lens market is about a $2.8 billion industry, with an annual growth of about 6%. Wong (2001: paragraph 4) further states that there is a large international opportunity for contact lens companies and that penetration into this market is much less overseas than it is in the U.S. It is estimated that about one in 5 vision-corrected Americans are wearing contact lenses, in Japan it is about one in 8, in Europe it is roughly one in 15 and in developing countries it is estimated to be one in 100 (Wong, 2001: paragraph 8). Coo ley (2001 paragraph 3) claims that the eye-care industry offers a significant market opportunity as roughly 60% of the American population (164.2 million people) requires vision correction at present and it is estimated that in the longer term virtually everyone will require some form of vision care. The key in this market would be to provide the appropriate product that creates value and addresses the consumer's needs. Weinstein and Johnson (1999:4) mention that "great" companies do not just satisfy the needs of their customers but instead strive to delight and "wow" them by continually creating business experiences that exceed customer expectations. Hence contact lens companies need to find ways to adequately assess customer service perceptions and expectations in order to be competitive. This research sets out to measure service expectations of optometrists with regards to the service that they receive from contact lens suppliers as well as measure service perceptions of optometrists with regards to Ciba Vision. The study also set out to establish the SERVQUAL gap, which causes unsuccessful service delivery (Gap 5) and examine the dimensions i.e. the tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy which contribute to Gap 5. The study found that on average customers have their high expectations in the responsiveness dimension and their highest perceptions in the assurance dimension. The study also found that gaps resulted in all five of the SERVQUAL dimensions with reliability contributing the most to gap 5.