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Technology’s Impact on the Gaps Model of
Service Quality
Mary Jo Bitner
W. P. Carey School of Business
Arizona State University

Valarie A. Zeithaml
Kenan-Flagler School of Business
University of North Carolina

Dwayne D. Gremler
College of Business Administration
Bowling Green State University

This chapter presents a foundational framework for service science – the Gaps Model of Service Quality. For over two decades the model has been used across industries and worldwide to help companies formulate strategies to deliver quality service, to integrate customer focus across functions, and to provide a foundation for service as a competitive strategy. It was developed at a time when most services were delivered interpersonally and in real time without the advantages (and sometimes disadvantages) of technology infusion. In the intervening years, technology has profoundly changed the nature of service(s) and at the same time it has influenced strategies for closing each of the service quality gaps. Thus, this chapter has a dual purpose: to provide a general overview of the Gaps Model of Service Quality and to demonstrate how key aspects of the model have changed and evolved due to advances in technologies. We begin with background on the Gaps Model and a discussion of the role of technology and services in general. We then discuss strategies for closing each gap in the model and illustrate the influence of technologies on these fundamental management strategies.

P.P. Maglio et al. (eds.), Handbook of Service Science, Service Science: Research and Innovations in the Service Economy, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-1628-0_10, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

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M.J. Bitner et al.

Introduction
Few would argue with the fact that services dominate the economies of the world’s most advanced nations. In the U.S., services represent over eighty percent of our GDP and labor force. Further, it is apparent that services are increasing as an economic force in countries such as China, India, and other fast-growing and developing nations (Bitner and Brown, 2008). The growth of service(s) is a relentless, global phenomenon that is shaping the world’s economies and profoundly affecting people’s lives. Yet, despite the economic domination of services, there is relatively little formal focus within companies, governments, and universities on service excellence, service research, and service innovation compared to the focus on tangible goods and technologies (see IfM and IBM, 2007). Within this context of unabated growth of service economies, academics and business practitioners have pointed to the need for tools, techniques, frameworks, and metrics to support excellence and innovation in services across industries. While some already exist, many more are still to be developed. These tools and frameworks will be integral foundations for service science.

This chapter presents and expands one such framework – the Gaps Model of Service Quality - that has provided a strategic foundation for organizations that wish to deliver service excellence to their customers. The Gaps Model was first introduced in 1985 (Parasuraman et al., 1985; Zeithaml et al., 1990). For nearly twenty-five years it has been used across industries and worldwide to help companies formulate strategies to deliver quality service, to integrate customer focus across firm functions, and to provide a strong foundation for service excellence as a competitive strategy.

We believe that the Gaps Model of Service Quality can be a strong foundation for service science going forward. Thus, this chapter has a dual purpose: to provide a general overview of the Gaps Model of Service Quality and to demonstrate how key aspects of the model have changed and evolved due to advances in technologies. We begin with background on the Gaps Model and a discussion of the role of technology and services in general. We then discuss strategies for closing each gap in the model...
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