Objective: To evaluate the use of an adapted customer service quality questionnaire as a management tool in the delivery of an undergraduate phantom head course.
Design: Two questionnaires, based upon an industrial definition of quality service, were devised and distributed for completion by second year dental students attending the management of dental caries course. These were applied to the academic years 1997/98 and 1999/2000. The first questionnaire was prospective, administered prior to course commencement, and sought to ascertain the level of importance attached to each dimension of course delivery. The second was retrospective and measured the level of satisfaction with course delivery. By comparing the 1997/98 responses for both questionnaire types, areas requiring improvement were identified. Where these areas were emphasised prospectively as important by the 1999/2000 students' improvement measures were introduced. Their effect was assessed by the subsequent retrospective satisfaction questionnaire.
Results: In all cases the questionnaire return rate was 100%. Although across the academic years overall student expectations did not differ significantly (P> 0.05) the emphasis of different components was found to vary according to academic year.
Conclusion: The application of this technique assists the course organiser to make objective decisions on improving course delivery based upon the shortfalls of the previous year and the pre-course expectations of the following academic year. The industrial model thus translated well to an educational context and should prove useful in continually improving course delivery.