ARCHSECRET: a multi-item scale to measure service quality within the voluntary sector

E. Vaughan, E.M.K. Shiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides an overview of the application of SERVQUAL reflecting the theoretical criticisms concerning disconfirmation model, process orientation, role of expectations and portability. The original SERVQUAL framework was found to be inappropriate for services that had no close analogue with the private sector. A qualitative research study was undertaken to establish the sector-specific criteria used by customers to evaluate service quality. The study identified 40 potentially unique features of the service as perceived by service recipients. These features were developed into a pilot survey instrument that comprised 40 questions, covering expectations, perceptions and importance. A pilot study was undertaken to test the instrument among disabled customers and their carers across the main centres of a national voluntary organisation. Analyses of the pilot survey data resulted in a set of 27 distinct statements across ten hypothesised service quality dimensions. These are Access, Responsiveness, Communication, Humaneness, Security, Enabling/Empowerment, Competence, Reliability, Equity, and Tangibles, giving rise to the acronym ARCHSECRET. The ARCHSECRET instrument is potentially a powerful diagnostic tool for managers in their pursuit of continuous quality improvement within voluntary sector organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • disconfirmation model
  • process orientation
  • expectations
  • portability
  • customer service
  • quality
  • voluntary sector


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