Service Quality Gap Model: AnIntroductionPrior to1980’s there existed not effective model which could capture the value ofcustomer satisfaction in terms of the degree to which a service conformed tothe expectations of the customer. In mid 80’s a team of three researchers,Parasurman, Berry and Zeithaml, developed a model that measured a customer’sexpectancy-confirmation/disconfirmation of a service with respect to theperception of the quality of the delivered service. The beauty of this tool wasthat instead of only measuring the final outcome — the delivered service,forming the perception and analysing the gap between this perception and acustomer’s expectation, the model extended to the whole process of servicedevelopment, starting from the management’s perception up till the service wasfinally provided to the customer. Procedure: Identifying the GapsThemodel identifies five gaps that can exist across the whole process fromconceptualizing 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 gapsare highlighted in the following diagram and are described as follows:a) Gap1The first gap identified by themodel is between managements perceptions of what a customer would expect forthe service and the actual expectations of the customers themselves. It mightwell be the case that the management’s understanding of the customer expectationsis quite erroneous, resulting in poor service quality.
The larger the gap themore will the customer be likely to experience a resulting unpleasant shock. b) Gap2The second gap is between themanagement’s perceptions of what a service should be like in order to satisfythe customers and the way service is actually designed. Again a larger gapmeans the actual service has drifted away from the envisioned standards anddoes not incorporate the value that the management aimed to offer through the service.c) Gap 3The third gap is between theservice design including the ideal characteristics put into it and the way theservice is actually delivered. The greater the gap the more the servicedelivery is off the mark.d) Gap4The fourth gap identified in themodel is between the way service is practically delivered and the way it iscommunicated about.
For example if the advertised qualities of a service areabsent in the actual delivery of that service, it is a major gap.e) Gap5Finally the fifth gap is betweenthe customer’s expectations of a service and the perception that the customerdeveloped after receiving the service. The expectations of customers are shapedby various factors such as word of mouth, needs, past experiences andcommunication about the service whereas the perceptions about the deliveredservice are shaped by the sense that they get out of the way service isdelivered to them.Recording theCustomers’ Input/FeedbackTheinternal part of the gap analysis can be done within the service providingorganization but the exercise cannot be meaningful until the customers’ inputis taken into consideration.
All the gaps described above can be identifiedonly when customer’s feedback is sought and analyzed in some way. A structuredquestionnaire is a useful tool in order to have a meaningful analysis of thecustomers’ feedback. The questionnaire records the gaps between customer’sexpectations and perceptions of the service along five dimensions ofreliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy and responsiveness (Berry, Parasuraman, Zeithaml,1985).Utility SERVQUALmodel is a useful research tool that a service provider can use to assess thequality 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 deliveryresulting in a better quality service for the customer. Another advantage ofusing this model is that the customers can be segmented into differentcategories based on their feedback.Some ManagerialImplications.a) Better Market ReputationThe exercise of closing the gapbetween managements perception of what the customers would expect of theservice and the actual expectations of the customers results in a better reputationof the service provider.
When customers’ expectations about the servicereceived are affirmed by the experience they have, they are naturally inclinedto trust the service provider.b) Process Optimization When the gap is eliminated between management’sidea of how the service should be like and the way the service is actuallydesigned, it optimizes the whole process of service development fromconceptualization to design.c) Better Quality of CommunicationOnce management has a clearunderstanding of the whole exercise of gap analysis, it adjusts itscommunication in a way so as to reflect the true features of the service thatwere not only the guiding principles when the idea of the service was conceivedbut were also ingrained into the process of service design and delivery. Theresulting high quality communication automatically coveys to the customersexactly what they would get, leaving no grey areas in the process.
ReferencesBerry. L, Parasuraman. A, Zeithaml. V.
(1985). A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and its Implication for FutureResearch (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