Service Service Gaps and SERVQUAL

SERVQUAL is methodology, which defines five dimensions of service quality. · · · · · Reliability – doing what they say they will do, on time and to specification Assurance – possession of the required skills to perform the service and also convey trust, confidence and security. Tangibles - which include the physical appearance of people and facilities Empathy – showing an understanding of customer needs and provide and individualised service Responsiveness – willingness to help and respond to individual requirements

SERVQUAL helps to identify customer perceptions of service quality.

Gap Analysis
A gap analysis takes this further and helps to identify the causes of service quality shortfalls in each or all of the dimensions. Customers build an expectation of the service to be received depending on four factors. These are, · · · · word of mouth communications obtained from friends and acquaintances, personal needs, past experience plays a part and, communications put out by the service company create their own expectations.

These individual factors are evaluated as follows: Gap 1 results from a difference between what customers expect and what management perceives these expectations to be. This can occur, as a result of insufficient research or communication failures. Gap 2 results from a difference between management perceptions of what customers expect and the specifications that management draws up, detailing the service quality delivery actions required. This can result from · · · · inadequate management commitment and interest, a perception that the company cannot actually meet customer requirements, a failure to specify in detail what is required, or a failure in the way in which the company sets its goals in relation to customers.

Gap 3 results from a mismatch between the service delivery specifications required by management and the actual service that is delivered by front line staff. There are many possible causes such as inappropriate technology, staff or training, poor teamwork, and inappropriate control measures. Gap 4 results from a difference between that actual service that is delivered and messages that are put out to customers about what to expect. Clearly a major reason for this is poor internal communication and lack of familiarity with operations. There is also the often-found propensity to “over-promise”. Clearly it is more desirable to under-promise and over deliver.

Last updated on 16/06/2003

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A fifth gap, ‘Gap 5’ may be identified as the overall difference between the expected service and the perceived service experienced. Gap 5 results from the combination of Gaps 1 to 4.

Using SERVQUAL, service quality is determined by the overall gap between what was expected and what was delivered. This means that · · · · · service quality is relative not absolute, different customers may perceive the level of service quality differently, quality is determined by the customer who has “ all the votes”, not by the service provider; service quality can be achieved by either meeting or exceeding expectations, or by changing expectations.

Extracts taken from: The Quality 60 (A Guide for Service and Manufacturing) printed by Moreton Press, by kind permission of the author John Bicheno.

Further reading
Valerie Zeithaml, A. Parasuraman and Leonard Berry, Delivering Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations. Publisher: Free Press; New York, March 1990. ISBN: 0029357012 Dick Schaaf, Keeping the Edge : Giving Customers the Service they demand, Plume Penguin, New York,1997. ISBN: 0452271916

Internet resources
www.freequality.org/beta%20freequal/fq%20web%20site/ training/GapAnalysis%5B2%5D.ppt

Last updated on 16/06/2003

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