What Is the Service Gap Model?

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  • 0:03 Mind the Gap
  • 0:47 What Is the Service Gap Model?
  • 1:55 Understanding the Five Gaps
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Customer satisfaction is the key to business success. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the Service Gap Model and the differences between perceived service and expected service.

Mind the Gap

Terry just pulled up to the hotel where he'll be staying for his weekend conference. He booked the room online based on the website, which showed clean, well-appointed rooms and plenty of amenities. Unfortunately, when Terry enters the hotel, he is less than impressed with what he sees. The lobby offers none of the features he saw on the website, and his room is far from the quality he expected when he booked his reservation.

Customers like Terry expect certain experiences in dealing with different companies. When those expectations don't measure up to the service performance, gaps develop. This makes it essential for a business's employees and managers to narrow any gaps between the expectations and the actual delivery of services.

What Is the Service Gap Model?

The Service Gap Model, sometimes referred to as SERVQUAL, was developed in the mid-1980s by a group of authors as a means for analyzing an organization's service quality performance against customer service quality needs. SERVQUAL uses customers' expectations and perceptions to help businesses identify ways to improve the more important issues. The SERVQUAL model was based on a couple of key dimensions, including:

  • Tangibles: These are things you can see, touch, or observe, such as facilities, employees, and equipment.
  • Reliability: Are you able to deliver the promised service reliably and accurately?
  • Responsiveness: This is the speed and efficiency of your customer service.
  • Assurance: Do your employees have the knowledge and courtesy to instill trust and confidence?
  • Empathy: Your ability to show concern and attention to customers.

In building their strategy, the authors identified five gaps where businesses and consumers have mismatched expectations that can cause customer service problems. Let's learn a bit more about each of those five.

Understanding the Five Gaps

The Service Gap Model is used to identify and close the gaps between customer expectations and the services provided at different stages. The goal is to improve customer service overall. Here's a look at the five gaps they identified:

The Customer Gap

The customer gap is the gap between a customer's expectations and their perceptions. Expectations are the result of background, lifestyle, personality, demographics and advertising, while perceptions are subjective. Perceptions rely on a customer's experience with a product or service. For Terry, what he expected when he arrived at the hotel was not what he perceived he would get, such as clean rooms and extra amenities.

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