Zone of Tolerance in Service Quality Expectations
An important factor that needs to be considered when assessing customer perceptions and expectations on service quality is the Zone of Tolerance. The zone of tolerance cannot be understood without distinguishing two levels of service quality
- ADEQUATE SERVICES: the level of service quality that is considered to be acceptable according to consumers. It must be mentioned here that 'adequate service' is partly based on what the consumer expects the service to be, which is also referred to as the 'predicted service'.
- DESIRED SERVICES: this type of service relates to the level of expectations of a particular service in terms of quality. In other words, it refers to what level of service quality the consumer hopes to receive.
These two levels differ across consumers and situations and they can be altered over time as well. The zone of tolerance
represents the space between the desired service and the adequate service, and reflects the expectations in relation to services. The more important the service attribute to the consumer, the smaller the space between desired and adequate services and thus the lower the zone of tolerance.
Source: Campos, D.F. And Nobrega, K.C. (2009) 'Importance and the Zone of Tolerance of Customer Expectations of Fast Food Services: The Flagship Research Journal of International Conference of the Production and Operations Management Society