Gap Model of Service Marketing

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Introduction
In a competitive market, a business’s main purpose is to create value for customers, because it is basically the consumer who essentially determines what a business is, even the future success of a business (Karl, 2009). For service marketing, which is the form of marketing focuses on processes deeds and performances, service quality is only way for customers to evaluate their experiences (Susamoo, 2012). Hence, the service quality is one of the most important factors that any service organisation should face.

Service quality can be defined as ‘a customers' perception of how well a service meets or exceeds their expectations’ (Seth, Deshmukh & Vrat, 2005). However, many consumers are short of the knowledge to evaluate the service they receive, meanwhile, the providers also lack skills to meet customer’s needs. When the experience does not match the expectation, a gap arises. The gap model of service quality identifies five major gaps that organizations seeking to meet customer's expectations in service delivery process (Turner, Bienstock & Reed, 2010). The purpose of this paper is discussing the gaps can occur in delivery of service quality. Besides, this essay will describe the feasible approaches for closing these service quality gaps, and put forward the examples to support.

Customer Gap
Customer gap is the difference between customer expectations and perceptions (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler, 2006). This gap arises when the customers misinterpret the service quality. The customer expectation is the standards or reference points that customer bring into the service experience, sometimes influenced by their cultural background, lifestyle, personality and so forth. Customer perception is based on the customers’ interaction with service. In ideal world, customer’s expectation world be almost identical to customer’s perception (Talebzade, 2009).

However, actually, even some great companies like Apple seem to be increasing significantly their customer gap. Customers complained that they were squeezed by Apple’s service platform, iTunes, because of the high cost of Apps. The App customers expect was high quality and cost-saving service, but the spending was far outstripped their expectation. It caused customers dissatisfied with iTunes services (Sullivan, 2011).

Therefore, the results of customer gap are quite predictable, the higher the customer gap, the higher the risk of generating customer dissatisfaction and losing loyalty. In order to close the customer gaps, managers should educate customer to see reality of service delivery and clearly understand the customer expectation. IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer used to collect the information about customers’ ideal shopping experience so as to meet customers’ needs before opened its Chicago store. In basis of those feedbacks, IKEA redesigned the store, and made it more appropriate for shopping. Local customers were so satisfied with this store, and rated 85 per cents ‘excellent’ for this store (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler, 2006). Hence, clearly understanding customers’ expectation and perception in advance can help managers to narrow the gap.

Knowledge Gap
Knowledge gap is the difference between customer expectation of service and company understanding of those expectation (Webb, 2000). Service providers who result in knowledge gap sometimes apply inadequate marketing research orientation and lack of communication with employees and customers. Moreover, the factors of lacking company strategies to strengthen customer relationships and inadequate service recoveries are also the critical reasons to cause knowledge gap.

Boeing has been the leader of airplane manufacturing and service providing. However, in 2006, Boeing declared that their cabin broadband access service was suspended, because this service was badly received by passengers. In actual, for passengers, what they want was flights to be on time. Boeing...
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