The Gap Model of Service Quality also known as Customer Service Gap Model or the 5 Gap Model) is a method used by Big Brands like Amazon, Flipkart etc to better understand customer satisfaction.
When you are doing things on a bigger level, It’s hard to fulfil and maintain consumer satisfaction, then GAP Model was introduced.
What is GAP Model? How it is evolved and what are its applications! The GAP Model was first proposed by A. Parasuraman, Valarie Zeithaml and Leonard L. Berry in 1985.
The GAP Model of Service Quality: In-Service Industry, the GAP Model is widely used to understand the various deviations that are occurring in the process of service delivery to potential customers.
GAP Model creates a roadmap for the overall service delivery process and identifies the gap between the processes so that the complete model works in an efficient and effective way. This helps the service providers to map the inefficiency that is occurring in the service delivery process.
The GAP Model of Service quality helps to identify the gaps between the perceived service and the expected service. There are five Gaps that occur in the Service Delivery Process. They are:
- Gap between Customer Expectation and Management Perception
- Gap between Service Quality Specification and Management Perception
- Gap between Service Quality Specification and Service Delivery
- Gap between Service Delivery and External Communication
- Gap between Expected Service and Experienced Service.
what’s in for me?
Gap 1: Gap Between Customer Expectation and Management Perception.
This gap arises when the management or service provider does not correctly analyze what the customer wants or needs. It also arises due to insufficient communication between contact employees and managers. There is a lack of market segmentation. This Gap occurs due to insufficient market research. For Instance- A café owner may think that the consumer wants a better ambience in the café, but the consumer is more concerned about the coffee and food they serve.
Gap 2: Gap Between Service Quality Specification and Management Perception.
This gap arises when the management or service provider might correctly comprehend what the customer requires, but may not set a performance standard. It can be due to poor service design, Inappropriate Physical evidence, Unsystematic new service Development process.
An example would be restaurant Managers who may tell the waiters to provide the order of the consumer quick, but do not specify “How Quick”.
Gap 3: Gap Between Service Quality Specification and Service Delivery.
This gap may arise in situations existing to the service personnel. It may occur due to improper training, incapability or unwillingness to meet the set service standards. It can be due to inappropriate evaluation and compensation systems. Ineffective Recruitment is the main cause of this gap.
The failure to match the supply and demand can create this gap. There is also a lack of empowerment, Perceived Control, and framework. An example would be a restaurant having very specific standards of the food communicated but the restaurant staff may not be given proper instruction as to how to follow these standards.
Gap 4: Gap Between Service Delivery and External Communication.
Consumer Expectations are highly influenced by the statements made by the company representatives and advertisements. This gap arises when these assumed expectations are not fulfilled at the time of Delivery of Service.
An example would be a restaurant that has printed on its menu that it serves 100% Vegetarian Food but in reality, it serves Non-Vegetarian Food as well. In this situation, consumer expectations are not met.
Gap 5: Gap Between Expected Service and Experienced Service.
This gap arises when the consumer misunderstands the service quality. For Instance, A Restaurant Manager may keep visiting their consumer to ensure quality check and consumer satisfaction, but the consumer may interpret this as an indication that something is fishy or there is something wrong in the service provided by the restaurant staff.
Improving Service Quality and Productivity
What is Service Quality?
Service Quality is defined as an evaluation of how well the delivered service matches consumer expectations. It is done to assess the deviations that are occurring while delivering the services to potential customers.
Businesses that meet or succeed expectations are considered to have high service quality. Service Quality defines the retention power of the company with respect to its customers. Customer Retention is the best measure of Service Quality.
The Five Dimensions of Service Quality
Reliability– It is the ability to perform the set service dependably and accurately. It focuses on providing the services right the first time and maintaining error-free records.
Assurance– It is the Knowledge and Courtesy of Employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence. Employees who instill confidence in customers and Make Customers feel safe in their transactions.
Tangibles– It contains Physical Facilities, Modern Equipment, appearance of personnel, Visually appealing materials associated with service.
Empathy– Caring, Individual Attention a firm provides to its customers. Convenient business hours, Having the customer’s best interest at heart.
Responsiveness– Willingness to help customers and provide prompt services. Readiness to respond to customers’ inquiries.
Servqual is a survey research instrument developed by Zeithmal to measure customer satisfaction with various aspects of service quality. This Scale contains 22 items that reflect five dimensions of Service Quality.
It is based on an assumption that consumers evaluate a firm’s service by comparing:
- Their perceptions of service actually received.
- Their prior expectations of companies in a particular industry.
Respondents complete a series of scales that measure their expectations of companies in a particular industry on a wide array of service characteristics.
They are asked to record their perceptions of a specific company whose services they have used.
When the perceived performance ratings are lower than the expected service, it will be termed as Poor Quality and Vice-versa.
The 22 items that are contained in the scale are:
T1: Clean and Comfortable work environment.
T2: Modern and Advanced work equipment.
T3: Office area clearly marked.
T4: Staff with neat and professional appearance.
L5: Staff working time and intensity are appropriate.
L6: Hospital is interested in solving the problems at work.
L7: Hospital is reliable.
L8: Working Processes are clear and concise.
L9: Welfare benefits promised by the hospital can be realized.
S10: Hospital can satisfy the staff’s working needs.
S11: Hospital is willing to help staff to solve working problems.
S12: Hospital can process the staff’s complaint in a timely fashion.
S13: Hospitals can process the staff’s major and unexpected events actively.
A14: Hospital is reliable.
A15: Staff feel comfortable at work.
A16: Staff are friendly and polite to each other.
A17: Hospital pays attention to the training of the staff’s professional knowledge and skills.
E18: Hospital can show concern for individual staff.
E19: Hospital can give personalized care to staff.
E20: Hospital knows staff’s needs.
E21: Hospital pays attention to staff’s Interests.
E22: Hospital pays attention to staff’s needs.
How to Overcome these Gaps?
The GAP Model has various Prescriptions to overcome the Gaps which are occurring in services.
These prescriptions are:
Gap 1: Knowledge Gap: The service provider has to understand what a customer wants or expects. He needs to focus on the behavior of customer for a particular product. A customer can have different objectives for taking a particular service.
Gap 2: Standards Gap: The service quality standards should be specified that will reflect expectations.
Gap 3: Delivery Gap: It ensures that service quality delivered to meet the set standards.
Gap 4: Internal Communications Gap: It ensures that the communication delivered is realistic.
Gap 5: Perceptions Gap: It helps in educating the customers to see the reality of service quality delivered.
Measuring and Improving Service Quality
There are two measures which help in improving service quality. Improving the quality of Service helps in delivering the desired services to the consumers efficiently and effectively.
- SOFT MEASURES
These measures are not easily observed and should be observed while talking to customers, employees or others.
It provides the right direction, guidance and feedback to employees on the techniques to attain customer satisfaction.
It can be quantified by measuring customer perceptions and beliefs.
For Example Servqual, surveys and customer advisory panels.
- HARD MEASURES
These measures can be counted, timed or measured through audits. It is typically operational processes or outcomes.
Standards are often set with reference to the percentage of occasions on which a particular measure is achieved.
For example, Control Charts are useful for displaying performance over time against specific quality standards.
TOOLS TO ANALYZE AND ADDRESS SERVICE QUALITY GAPS
The service quality gaps can be measured and controlled by using several performed techniques by the experts and these techniques are very helpful in bridging the gaps between the Service Quality.
These tools are used widely by the service quality experts in the industry to bring efficiency and effectiveness in their service quality process.
The tools which help to control these gaps are:
- Fishbone Diagram: The Fishbone Diagram also known as The Cause and Effect Diagram is a visual tool to show the potential causes of a specified event. It enables the managers of the firm to analyze the causes for imperfections, variations, defects and failures.
2.Pareto Chart: Pareto Chart is a chart which has both bars as well as line graphs. When there is number of problems in a process, then to analyze that process, Pareto chart is used. It is a statistical technique widely used in decision making process for the selection of a limited number of tasks that produce significant overall effect.
- Blueprinting: Blueprinting is a process of identifying points where failures are most likely to occur. It is the visualization of service delivery. A Service Blueprint is a technique used for service innovation. They are used at the design and re-design stages of service development.It is a pictorial representation that displays the service system so that individuals who are involved in the process can understand it and deal with it in an efficient and effective way.
4.TQM (Total Quality Management): TQM is the process of eliminating or reducing the faults or errors that occur in manufacturing, streamlining supply chain management, improving customer experience and ensuring that employees are up to speed with training. It focuses on ensuring that internal guidelines and process standards reduce errors.
- Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a technique or a statistical tool used by companies to improve the quality of process output by identifying and eliminating the causes of defects that occur in manufacturing processes.
6. ISO 9000: It is a set of international standards on quality management and quality assurance developed to help companies effectively document the quality system elements to be implemented to maintain an efficient quality system
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