Explanation of the SERVQUAL Gaps
Parasuraman et al., 1985, (p.41-50) developed a conceptual model of service quality where they identified five gaps that could impact the consumer’s evaluation of service quality in four different industries (retail banking, credit card, securities brokerage and product repair and maintenance). These gaps were:
Gap 1: Consumer expectation - management perception gap
Service firms may not always understand what features a service must have in order to meet consumer needs and what levels of performance on those features are needed to bring deliver high quality service. This results to affecting the way consumers evaluate service quality.
Gap 2: Management perception - service quality specification gap
This gap arises when the company identifies want the consumers want but the means to deliver to expectation does not exist. Some factors that affect this gap could be resource constraints, market conditions and management indifference. These could affect service quality perception of the consumer.
Gap 3: Service quality specifications – service delivery gap
Companies could have guidelines for performing service well and treating consumers correctly but these do not mean high service quality performance is assured. Employees play an important role in assuring good service quality perception and their performance cannot be standardised. This affects the delivery of service which has an impact on the way consumers perceive service quality.
Gap 4: Service delivery – external communications gap
External communications can affect not only consumer expectations of service but also consumer perceptions of the delivered service. Companies can neglect to inform consumers of special efforts to assure quality that are not visible to them and this could influence service quality perceptions by consumers.
Gap 5: Expected Service – perceived service gap
From their study, it showed that the key to ensuring good service quality is meeting or exceeding what consumers expect from the service and that judgement of high and low service quality depend on how consumers perceive the actual performance in the context of what they expected.