Service Quality Gap Model: An

Prior to
1980’s there existed not effective model which could capture the value of
customer satisfaction in terms of the degree to which a service conformed to
the expectations of the customer. In mid 80’s a team of three researchers,
Parasurman, Berry and Zeithaml, developed a model that measured a customer’s
expectancy-confirmation/disconfirmation of a service with respect to the
perception of the quality of the delivered service. The beauty of this tool was
that instead of only measuring the final outcome — the delivered service,
forming the perception and analysing the gap between this perception and a
customer’s expectation, the model extended to the whole process of service
development, starting from the management’s perception up till the service was
finally provided to the customer.

Procedure: Identifying the Gaps

model identifies five gaps that can exist across the whole process from
conceptualizing the idea of the particular service, its development and final delivery.
The smaller the gaps the better will be the quality of the service. These gaps
are highlighted in the following diagram and are described as follows:


The first gap identified by the
model is between managements perceptions of what a customer would expect for
the service and the actual expectations of the customers themselves. It might
well be the case that the management’s understanding of the customer expectations
is quite erroneous, resulting in poor service quality. The larger the gap the
more will the customer be likely to experience a resulting unpleasant shock.


The second gap is between the
management’s perceptions of what a service should be like in order to satisfy
the customers and the way service is actually designed. Again a larger gap
means the actual service has drifted away from the envisioned standards and
does not incorporate the value that the management aimed to offer through the service.

c)      Gap 3

The third gap is between the
service design including the ideal characteristics put into it and the way the
service is actually delivered. The greater the gap the more the service
delivery is off the mark.


The fourth gap identified in the
model is between the way service is practically delivered and the way it is
communicated about. For example if the advertised qualities of a service are
absent in the actual delivery of that service, it is a major gap.


Finally the fifth gap is between
the customer’s expectations of a service and the perception that the customer
developed after receiving the service. The expectations of customers are shaped
by various factors such as word of mouth, needs, past experiences and
communication about the service whereas the perceptions about the delivered
service are shaped by the sense that they get out of the way service is
delivered to them.

Recording the
Customers’ Input/Feedback

internal part of the gap analysis can be done within the service providing
organization but the exercise cannot be meaningful until the customers’ input
is taken into consideration. All the gaps described above can be identified
only when customer’s feedback is sought and analyzed in some way. A structured
questionnaire is a useful tool in order to have a meaningful analysis of the
customers’ feedback. The questionnaire records the gaps between customer’s
expectations and perceptions of the service along five dimensions of
reliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy and responsiveness (Berry, Parasuraman, Zeithaml,


model is a useful research tool that a service provider can use to assess the
quality of its service on a comprehensive level as well as along multiple dimensions.
The findings can be used to enhance the process of service design and delivery
resulting in a better quality service for the customer. Another advantage of
using this model is that the customers can be segmented into different
categories based on their feedback.

Some Managerial

a)      Better Market Reputation

The exercise of closing the gap
between managements perception of what the customers would expect of the
service and the actual expectations of the customers results in a better reputation
of the service provider. When customers’ expectations about the service
received are affirmed by the experience they have, they are naturally inclined
to trust the service provider.

b)      Process Optimization

 When the gap is eliminated between management’s
idea of how the service should be like and the way the service is actually
designed, it optimizes the whole process of service development from
conceptualization to design.

c)      Better Quality of Communication

Once management has a clear
understanding of the whole exercise of gap analysis, it adjusts its
communication in a way so as to reflect the true features of the service that
were not only the guiding principles when the idea of the service was conceived
but were also ingrained into the process of service design and delivery. The
resulting high quality communication automatically coveys to the customers
exactly what they would get, leaving no grey areas in the process.



Berry. L, Parasuraman. A, Zeithaml. V. (1985). A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and its Implication for Future
Research (SERVQUAL)

Hart M.C. (1996) Improving the dissemination of SERVQUAL by using magnitude scaling. In:
Kanji G.K. (eds) Total Quality Management in Action. Springer, Dordrecht




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