An analysis of the five gap model

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Quality of service has been studied in the area of business management for years because the market is more competitive and marketing management has transferred its focus from internal performance such as production to external interests such as satisfaction and customers' perception of service quality.

Based on this traditional definition of service quality, Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1985) developed the "Gap Model" of perceived service quality.

This model has five gaps:

Gap 1. Consumer expectation - Management perception gap

Gap 2. Management perception - Service quality specification gap

Gap 3. Service quality specifications - Service delivery gap

Gap 4. Service delivery - External communication gap

Gap 5. Expected service - Experienced service

Gap One--Positioning

Between customer's expectation and management's perceptions of those expectation i.e. not knowing what customers expect

This gap occurs when management were either totally unaware of certain critical consumer expectations or were misreading the importance of those expectations to consumers. Therefore, management does not understand how the service should be designed, what support or secondary services the customer requires or what the right quality for the customer is. Besides consumers, employees can be defined as internal consumers as well.

The big problems that for the management is:

We know what they really want (without asking them)

This is related to both consumers and employees, no matter how an intelligent manager you are, you will never know what are your customer and employee want at different levels and different times. So the communication between both external and internal consumers must be kept very well. Lack of marketing research is the most common problem for doing a business. The insufficient upward communication between contact personnel to management is another cause. Maybe there are too many levels between them, reducing the levels between the two departments is essential to increase effectiveness of communication and understanding between the two.

Researching customers' expectations could be done through listening to customer complaints, finding out what customers want in similar industries, researching intermediate customers, conducting key-client studies, and conducting customer expectation and satisfaction surveys. Feedback is essential to continuous improvement. How else would we know if our goals are being reached? These feedback mechanisms may be simple oral or written reports, information systems, or complex automated statistical analyses integrated with our expert systems. The key is to receive the information in time to allow initiating corrective action.

I am working in a hotel as a breakfast waitress, what we do when guests come in, we let them choose a table, and give each guest two slices of fresh toast leave on the table, then ask them if they want tea or coffee. Although we always found untouched toast when we clearing tables, but roles never change until the day we got complained. One guest wrote on the questionnaire: I think it is better to ask if we want toast or not before you sever it. I never eat toast when I am having breakfast but I had this morning because I felt that was such a waste just thrown it in the bin." Then our manager realized at the time that offer more is not always meets customer's expectation, it may make them felt uncomfortable sometimes.

Gaps in service also occur when top management fails to seek, stimulate and facilitate the flow of information from employees at lower levels. These employees are often the most valuable source of real and relevant information about customer service. Related to my example as well, staffs actually noticed about the problem. But our manager did not ask us for recommendations on our job. So this Gap may also occur when too many levels separate top managers, who make critical decisions, from those...
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