Gap Model of Service Quality

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The Gap model of service quality was developed
by Parasuraman, Berry and Zeithaml (1985),
and more recently described in Zeithaml and
Bitner (2003). It has served as a framework for
research in services marketing, including hospitality
marketing, for over two decades. The
model identifies four specific gaps leading to a
fifth overall gap between customers’ expectations
and perceived service.

The five gaps
Customers have expectations for service experiences
and they use them to measure against the
perceived service performance in their judgment
of service quality. It is essential, then, that managers
determine what those expectations are when
designing the service. The first gap in service
quality occurs when management fails to accurately
identify customer expectations. It is referred
to as the knowledge gap. Specifically, it is the difference
in customer expectations and management’s
perception of customer expectations. Hotel managers,
for instance, must know and understand
what their guests expect from their stay, including
all tangibles (the room, amenities, lobby features)
and intangible components (availability of additional
services, ease of check-in and check-out
procedures). The size of the gap is dependent on
the extent of upward communication (from customers
to top management), the number of layers
of management, the size of the organization, and
most importantly, the extent of marketing
research to identify customer expectations.
The second gap is referred to as the design gap.
It is measured by how well the service design
specifications match up to management’s perception
of customer expectations. The extent of this
gap is dependent on management’s belief that
service quality is important and that it is possible,
as well as the resources that are available for the
provision of the service. A restaurant manager
may understand customer expectations for being
served within 20 minutes of ordering, but may
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