Use this framework to align customer expectations and your offer
The SERVQUAL model was developed by three academics, Parsu Parasuraman, Valarie Zeithaml and Len Berry, following research they carried out between 1983 and 1988.
Service quality, shortened to SERVQUAL, is a model designed to find out the match between a company’s service performance and customers’ expectations. It is a sort of gap analysis.
The SERVQUAL model is based around five service dimensions which make the acronym RATER:
Responsiveness – these are questions about the importance and satisfaction on factors such as speed of response to enquiries, ease of doing business etc.
Assurance – these questions examine to what extent customer service and sales staff are knowledgeable and courteous.
Tangibles – these questions determine physical aspects such as cleanliness of the delivery vehicles, appearance of the staff etc. (Note that SERVQUAL is a service orientated model and so the tangible factors that are of interest are related to service delivery and not to the product itself).
Empathy – these questions test the importance and satisfaction of the service provided by such as sales representatives.
Reliability – these questions examine the importance and satisfaction of meeting promises such overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend etc.
Mostly, but not always, expectations are higher than the service that is received which leads to the identification of gaps in meeting expectations. The identification of service quality gaps enables a company to take action and better meet customers’ needs. The gaps that can be identified through SERVQUAL are:
Gap 1 - The knowledge gap. This is the gap between the management’s belief about what they think customers want and what they actually want.
Gap 2 - The standards gap. This is the gap between the standards that the company has designed for the customer and what the customer actually expects.
Gap 3 - The delivery gap. This is the gap between customers’ expectations and what they receive.
Gap 4 - The communications gap. This is the gap between the promises that are made and the meeting of those promises.
Gap 5 - The customer satisfaction gap. This is the gap between the satisfaction of the customer and their expectations.
These are shown in the figure below.
Gaps between expectations and perception are due to a number of factors:
The supplier may not know what customers expect.
The supplier offers the wrong service quality standards (usually too low) for customers.
The supplier has employees who are unsuited or unskilled in providing the service.
The supplier has an offer that does not meet expectations.
The supplier makes promises that are not met.
Using the SERVQUAL results, managers can minimise gaps. They can lift the service levels where necessary and ensure that they don't overpromise. They can train staff to provide suitable levels of service and they can be more effective with communications.
Service is a crucial factor in delivering satisfaction. Customers have become increasingly demanding in their expectations of service. Comparisons of your company will be made by customers who enjoy high service delivery in unrelated areas but this nevertheless influences their expectations. Using the SERVQUAL results, managers can minimise gaps. They can lift the service levels where necessary and ensure that they don't overpromise. They can train staff to provide suitable levels of service and they can be more effective with communications.
Some things to think about:
Service is a crucial factor in delivering satisfaction.Customers have become increasingly demanding in their expectations of service.Comparisons of your company will be made by customers who enjoy high service delivery in unrelated areas but this nevertheless influences their expectations.
Delivering good service needs a service “mind-set”. Ask yourself “Do we employ the right people to delivery service?” “Do we train our people to deliver the very best service?” “Do we give our people the right resources to allow them to delivery superb services?”.