The research investigates the customers’ (parents’) perception of service quality in the Irish childcare context, where new research could contribute theoretical value. The conducted research explored key quality perception triggers for the parents, described the relationship between childcare service quality and parents’ satisfaction, described the relationship between parents’ satisfaction and loyalty to providers, identified how parents’ satisfaction impacts positively on loyalty to Irish childcare providers, and identified the quality improvements desired by parents within the Irish context.
Both primary and secondary data collection tools were employed to gather information. The primary data collection involved keeping a researcher’s diary and conducting semi-structured interviews on a purposive sample of eight customers of Fife childcare service, and then analysing collected data via thematic analysis. The research findings revealed that curriculum & activities, physical facility and staff were the main triggers of the parents’ perception of childcare service quality. It found that there is a strong relationship between the childcare service quality perception, parents’ satisfaction and loyalty. It further revealed, that the higher the level of parents’ satisfaction, the higher their level of loyalty, regardless of the recent “Breach of Trust” documentary.
However, it found that though the participants were satisfied with the current provision, they desired and recommended some quality improvements. The research (though small scale) has implication for Irish childcare service providers, by equipping them with the information to aid/improve their provisions of care and education services – hence a new conceptual framework is proposed. Author keywords: Service quality, customer perception, childcare providers